Wind and rain couldn’t stop the Yelm ground game as the Tornados swept through Bishop Blanchet’s defense on their way to a 50-7 win on Friday, Nov. 4, earning them the top spot in the state 3A playoffs.
The win put the team at a perfect 10-0 record and secured the No. 1 overall seed ahead of this week’s game where Yelm will face off against Southridge (Kennewick).
The weather forced each team to focus on its run game. For Yelm, that centered around its trio of seniors. William Carreto, Kyler Ronquillo and Ray Wright all had their share of carries during the contest. Carreto led the Tornados during the district playoff matchup with 201 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, while Wright and Ronquillo combined for 164 yards and four touchdowns.
Carreto was the first player to reach the end zone when he punched in a 10-yard score in the first quarter. The Tornados led 6-0 after a failed two-point try.
Carreto found the end zone again on a 13-yard touchdown run on their second drive, increasing the Tornados’ lead to 12-0 after a missed extra point.
Yelm’s defense forced a quick three-and-out on the next drive behind strong tackles from Isaiah Patterson and quality defensive coverage downfield. After the punt, Yelm started its next drive on their own 44-yard line.
The Tornados were quick to march down the field after they received the punt and Wright found the end zone for his first score of the night. He punched in Yelm’s third rushing touchdown, extending the lead to 18-0.
The Bears, who sported a 4-5 record prior to the game, were able to muster up their best offensive possession of the game at the start of the second quarter. After a six-play drive Bishop Blanchet, the No. 6 seed from the Metro League, scored on a six-yard pass to bring the score to 18-7.
Yelm responded with a touchdown drive of its own, capped off by a 22-yard Wright rushing touchdown, his second of the night. Ronquillo converted a two-point conversion to give the Tornados a 26-7 lead.
The Tornados continued their scoring ways in the second quarter when Ronquillo found the end zone for his first touchdown of the evening, which was good for 22 yards. Aalona ran into the end zone to convert Yelm’s two-point try with a score of 34-7.
Late in the second quarter, junior wide receiver Marius Aalona scored on a 68-yard rushing touchdown. The junior was lined back to punt and the snap was short. Marius Aalona scooped the muffed snap and took off for the score. After a successful two-point run by Wright, the Tornados led 42-7.
The final score of the contest was an eight-yard touchdown by Ronquillo. Wright punched in another successful two-point try to extend the Tornados lead to 50-7.
The Tornados’ offense dominated on the ground throughout the entirety of the contest, with their stout offensive line paving the way for 475 total rushing yards.
“Mental toughness played a huge part for us last weekend,” junior offensive and defensive lineman Landen Barger said. “We went into the game believing we would dominate the line, but also dominate the mental game. We didn’t let them get into our heads and weigh us down.”
Barger said he expects another stout performance from the offensive unit going into the matchup with Southridge.
When asked if there was any pressure about being the No. 1 seed, Barger said he believes his team will benefit from it.
“I think the pressure makes us better,” Barger said. “Diamonds are created from pressure and we’re built for moments like this.”
Aside from Carreto, Ronquillo and Wright bulking the majority of the carries, junior Anthony Kiamco tallied six carries for 23 yards, and sophomore Neeko Taylor added another 11 yards on four carries.
Quarterback Damian Aalona was three of four for 47 yards during the contest. His long completion was a 40-yard pass to Ronquillo.
Defensively, Wright led the Tornados with eight tackles and one tackle for loss, followed by Patterson, who had seven tackles, one sack and a tackle for loss. Junior Onyx Carter collected six tackles and one tackle for loss during the contest as well. Senior defensive back Pavaan Bankston had an interception.
Following the dominant 50-7 victory over Bishop Blanchet in the district playoff round, the Tornados will host No. 16 seed Southridge at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at home.
Southridge (7-3) beat Auburn 41-20 on Nov. 4 to secure a berth to the state playoffs.
Tickets to the game must be purchased online.
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