Yelm football capped off its 2023 regular season as undefeated league champions, averaging 57 points per contest offensively, while allowing just 7.14 defensively through seven South Sound Conference games. In honor of a dominant season, the Tornados saw 16 of its athletes named to the all-SSC team.
All-American linebacker and Oregon commit Brayden Platt was named the conference’s most valuable player. His teammate quarterback Damian Aalona was named the SSC’s offensive MVP, while left guard and defensive tackle Landen Barger was named lineman of the year.
In seven SSC games, Platt totaled 796 yards of offense and found the end zone 17 times. Defensively, Platt totaled 48 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and one interception. His teammate Aalona passed for 1,257 yards and 20 touchdowns to just one interception in conference play.
Lineman of the Year Barger totalled 22 tackles, four sacks and four tackles for loss in SSC play, while serving as a critical member of the Tornados’ offensive line. He served as a dominant force in the middle of Yelm’s offensive and defensive lines.
The Tornados’ triggered a running clock in every league game, and the team’s back-ups and junior varsity teams played in most second halves of league matchups.
Tornados on the first team all-SSC list include senior running back Anthony Kiamco, senior wide receiver Marius Aalona, junior tight end Jacob Tracy, junior offensive linemen Chris Hauss and Shane Creegan, senior offensive lineman Tyler Blevins, senior defensive linemen Kenji Scanlan and Onyx Carter, senior linebacker Isaiah Patterson and senior defensive back Arlo Henderson Jr.
Yelm had two representatives on the second team all-SSC list: defensive backs Mo Williams and Gio Sanchez. Williams, a freshman, has a promising future and already holds a Division I offer from Washington State University.
Senior offensive lineman Kyle Kaaiwela was named Yelm’s only honorable mention.
Timberline’s senior linebacker Darrell Gipson took home the conference’s defensive player of the year award. His efforts for the Blazers in the final weeks of the season propelled the team into the 3A District Crossover round of the playoffs, after Timberline defeated Peninsula and Capital in a “Kansas City tie-breaker” for the final SSC playoff berth.
Capital’s coaching staff was named the conference’s staff of the year, despite missing the playoffs. The Cougars improved from fifth place in 2022 to fourth place in 2023, missing the postseason in both years. In 2023, Capital finished 4-3 in conference play with victories over North Thurston (1-6 in conference), Central Kitsap (2-5 in conference), Timberline (4-3 in conference) and River Ridge (0-7 in conference).
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