In the first round of the 3A state playoffs, the No. 1 seed Tornados hosted the No. 16 seed Southridge Suns in what transpired to be yet another blowout win for Yelm, who secured a 51-7 victory on …
In the first round of the 3A state playoffs, the No. 1 seed Tornados hosted the No. 16 seed Southridge Suns in what transpired to be yet another blowout win for Yelm, who secured a 51-7 victory on Saturday, Nov. 12.
After winning the opening coin toss and electing to receive, the Tornados started with the ball on their own 21 yardline. On the first play from scrimmage, senior Kyler Ronquillo took the handoff and bolted behind pulling linemen Tyler Blevins and Ami Fakava. Ronquillo carried the ball for 60 yards, before being tackled at Southridge’s 19 yardline.
Ronquillo’s number was called again on the drive, and the senior punched in a seven-yard rushing touchdown, bringing Yelm to a 6-0 score after a failed two-point try.
Strong tackling from senior Ray Wright and junior Landen Barger, and a pass breakup by junior Marius Aalona forced a quick Southridge three-and-out.
Back on offense near midfield, the Tornados were able to connect on a deep pass from junior Damian Aalona to Ronquillo for a 55-yard touchdown. Ronquillo had over 110 total yards of offense in the first quarter. After a successful two point rush by junior Brayden Platt, Yelm led 14-0.
Junior Isaiah Patterson and Platt each added their names to Yelm’s stat sheet. The dynamic junior duo each collected a tackle near the line of scrimmage, and Barger collected another tackle. Yelm forced another three-and-out.
The Tornados then put together a methodical eight-play drive, which resulted in a one-yard Wright rushing touchdown. Yelm added to its lead with a two-point conversion off of a Ronquillo rush, closing out the first quarter with a score of 22-0.
After a big rush on first down, the Sun’s rushing attack was immediately shut down. After three consecutive rushes, they faced fourth and four, and threw an incomplete pass to turn the ball over on downs. Junior defensive lineman Kenji Scanlan pressured the quarterback during the play.
The Tornados had momentum built on a drive killed by penalties. They faced fourth and 18, and punted to pin Southridge on their own 21 yardline. Southridge put together a nice drive, but faced fourth and goal on Yelm’s 10-yard line. The Sun’s quarterback faked a handoff and rolled out to his left to race for the endzone, but was met by senior Aden Schaler, who made the tackle.
Later in the quarter, Yelm’s offense found themselves at the Sun’s one yardline. Platt was able to find the endzone for another touchdown, increasing Yelm’s lead to 30-0 after a Tre Smith conversion.
Senior Pavaan Bankston then intercepted a halfback pass to send both teams to their locker rooms for halftime.
Southridge received the kickoff to start the second half, but quickly turned the ball over on downs after they were stuffed on a fourth and short rush.
On their second play of the drive, Damian Aalona found Ronquillo speeding past his defenders for a 45-yard touchdown, Ronquillo’s third of the game. Yelm led 37-0 after a successful Jameson Patin point after touchdown kick.
Ronquillo continued his electric showing in the fourth quarter, when he collected his fourth and final touchdown of the game on a 23-yard rush. Patin put another kick through the uprights, and Yelm was ahead 44-0.
Southridge was able to score in the fourth quarter against Yelm’s defense, as they collected a 46-yard rushing touchdown, making the score 44-7 after a successful PAT. On the ensuing kickoff, Schaler took the kickoff for 96 yards and a touchdown, extending Yelm’s lead even further and securing the 51-7 victory.
Offensively, Yelm totalled 447 yards with 198 through the air and 248 on the ground. Quarterback Aalona went eight for 13 for 172 yards and two touchdown passes during the contest. Ronquillo led the Tornados in total yards and touchdowns, with 269 total (126 rushing, 143 receiving) and four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving). Platt collected 10 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown, and Wright and Carreto each collected several carries. Junior Onyx Carter had one reception for 22 yards and Wright had one reception for 20 yards.
Defensively, Carreto, Carter and sophomore Chris Hauss led the team with seven tackles each. Three time SSC Defensive MVP Wright had six tackles, and Barger and Patterson each totaled five.
Ronquillo is a firm believer that the work his team puts in prior to their games helps the squad capitalize on opportunities on the field. The former South Sound Conference MVP and two time SSC offensive player of the year knows the importance of preparation during the playoffs.
“(We studied) tons of film in the film room to find errors in Southridge’s defensive alignment and loads of repetitions in practice to ensure we capitalize on opportunities,” Ronquillo said. “(This week), the team and staff will be analyzing film and creating a game plan. Our scout team will replicate the Kennewick offense and defense.”
Following the dominant win against Southridge, Ronquillo credited much of Yelm’s team for playing the role of unsung heroes in the win.
“Damian Aalona performed well, and I’d also say the entire defense really stepped up to the challenge of stopping the wing-T,” Ronquillo said. “The offensive line also did a great job at giving me big gaps to run through upfront.”
Up next, Yelm will host the visiting Kennewick Lions at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19 in the state 3A quarterfinals. This is a rematch from the round of 16 in the 2019 3A state playoffs where Kennewick defeated Yelm, 35-34, in overtime.
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