Kalama dominates second half to beat Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in state quarterfinal

Top-ranked Kalama ends game with 44

KALAMA — Even after a textbook 14-minute display of ball-control football, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley couldn’t keep Kalama’s high-octane offense off the field forever.

Quarterback Alex Dyer sparked a concluding run of 44 unanswered points as top-ranked Kalama thumped the Titans, 50-15, in the state 2B football quarterfinals Friday night at Chinook Stadium.

Kalama (12-0) advanced to a semifinal showdown with reigning state champion Napavine next weekend in a rematch of an early season contest won by the Chinooks in overtime.

Southwest Washington 2B Coastal Division champion Pe Ell-Willapa Valley concluded its season with a 9-3 record.

Particularly adept at fitting deep passes into tight spaces, Dyer passed for 317 yards and two touchdowns while also running for two scores. Tucker Wetmore and Jacob Herz, his favorite targets, combined for five TDs, with each scoring on a kick return. Both were very effective running after receptions.

Few contests in recent memory ended more differently than it started.

For more than a quarter, the Titans succeeded magnificently in their objective to control the ball and the clock. They had possession for 31 of the game’s first 34 scrimmage plays.

With Max Smith and Peter Hamilton ripping off 5-to 9-yard runs almost at will behind an offensive line of Bradley Prestegord, Adam Smaciarz, Jeremiah Yost, Wyatt Bush and Kobe Hoffman, PWV had outgained Kalama 164-minus 2 in building a 15-6 advantage at the 9:58 mark of the second quarter.

But Herz’s 84-yard kickoff return and a Chinook goal-line stand prevented the Titans from building a more commanding lead. And when Dyer took his team 55 yards in 33 seconds, eventually scoring on a 1-yard run, in the final minute of the second quarter, Kalama stunningly owned a 19-15 lead at the end of a first half that PWV had largely dominated.

“Our offensive line came out with a lot of intensity,” PWV head coach Josh Fluke said. “Our goal was ball-control. They were going to score on us, they’re too damn fast. If we had come out in the second half and gotten a few first downs and scored, it (might) have been a different game.”

Instead, Herz scored on a 7-yard fly sweep on the opening possession of the third quarter and Dyer found Wetmore on 20-yard TD pass moments later to make it 33-15.

Unable to duplicate their ground success after the Chinooks switched to a six-man defensive front, the Titans were unable to answer as Kalama pulled away.

Smith finished with 119 yards on 24 carries, while Hamilton logged 96 yards on 21 carries.

Both were much in evidence on the game’s first series. After Yost recovered Kalama’s attempt at an opening onside kick, the Titans marched 51 yards in 10 plays, with Hamilton punching it in from 2 yards out. Carson Cox kicked the conversion.

Herz returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards to the house, but the PAT attempt was blocked.

The Titans increased the lead to 9-6 in the early stages of the second quarter when Hoffman led a blitz that sacked Dyer in his end zone for a safety.

Pe Ell-Willapa Valley needed only five plays to score again after the ensuing free kick. Smith covered 26 yards on a sweep to set up Hamilton’s 7-yard TD over right guard.

The Chinooks needed less than two minutes to respond, with Wetmore hauling in Dyer’s 10-yard scoring strike, then moved in front to stay on their final drive of the first half.

Hamilton had 11 tackles and Ryan Shepherd 10 for the Titans.

Despite extensive graduation losses from the previous season, the Titans earned a third successive league title. With the bulk of a sophomore-laden team returning, they have cause for future optimism.

”It was a (crappy) game, but it was still a good season,” Fluke concluded.

(Photo by Larry Bale) Peter Hamilton finds some running room at midfield. He gained 96 yards on 21 carries.

(Photo by Larry Bale) Peter Hamilton finds some running room at midfield. He gained 96 yards on 21 carries.