PREP FOOTBALL: Neah Bay motivated by second-place finishes; state championship game today
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Jeff Halstead/for Peninsula Daily News
Neah Bay’s John Reamer hauls in a touchdown catch during the class 1B semifinals. Reamer is one of the many Red Devils who played on Neah Bay’s football and basketball runner-up teams last year.

By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News

TACOMA — A pair of second-place finishes didn't sit well with the Neah Bay Red Devils.

Neah Bay's football and basketball teams, which mostly are comprised of the same players, achieved the impressive feat of making it the 1B state championship game in both sports.

Both times, the Red Devils lost in similar fashion: They fell behind, came storming back, but couldn't complete the comeback.

Neah Bay football coach Tony McCaulley said last week that the pain he felt for his players after losing in the championship exceeded the joy that came from winning the state title in 2011.

However, McCaulley admitted that the two runner-up finishes created a bit of a coaches dream.

“It's nice for a coach,” McCaulley said prior to the football season.

“They're real hungry.”

Inspired by those past shortcomings, the Red Devils worked even harder during the summer, spending a lot of time in the weight room and keeping in shape.

Many of the players return from last year, and McCaulley has said throughout the season that most of them are bigger, stronger and faster.

Today, they will try to reap the rewards of their work when they face Touchet (12-1) in the 1B football state championship game at the Tacoma Dome at 4 p.m.

It is the Red Devils' third consecutive trip to the state title game, but that alone isn't a satisfying enough of an accomplishment.

Winning it all is what they've worked for.

“It feels awesome. We just can't come up short this year. Last year really hurt,” senior linebacker/fullback Tyler McCaulley said after the semifinal win over Lummi last week.

“I know we'll be fired up to play that game.”

When the top-ranked Red Devils and third-ranked Indians face off today, it will be a battle of two similar teams.

In other words, don't expect anything fancy.

“They're a lot like we are,” Tony McCaulley said.

“They don't run a lot of plays, but they're good at what they do.”

Like Neah Bay (11-0), the Indians run the ball, over and over, to set up the pass.

And akin to the Red Devils, no lead is safe against Touchet.

Neah Bay has overcome 14-0 deficits in its state playoff wins over Cusick and Lummi.

The Indians trailed Rosalia 30-6 in last week's semifinal, only to go on a scoring tear to win 62-36.

“They don't give up,” Tony McCaulley said.

“They're in good shape. They outlasted Rosalia.”

Speaking of shape, Tony McCaulley said the Red Devils enter today's game in better condition than the 2012 championship game.

“Well, I talked about it with the kids [last] week, and I said, 'One of the reasons we lost the state championship game last year is because of Lummi,'” he said.

“Not taking anything away from Liberty Christian, because they played well, but Lummi flat wore us out last year in the semifinals.

“I think we got out pretty healthy [this year].”

Game notes

■ Unlike last week, ROOT Sports will not televise today's game.

The WIAA Network will broadcast the game online, but the live broadcast costs $9.99.

The game will be available for free online within 72 hours.

Go to www.wiaa.com and click on WIAA Network on the right-hand side of the menu bar to access this broadcast.

However, Forks 1490 will again broadcast the game on the radio and online at www.Forks1490.com.

Oly Archibald will call the play-by-play.

■ Scoreczar.org, which uses a mathematical formula to predict high school football games, predicts Neah Bay will beat Touchet 41-28.

Last year, Scoreczar correctly predicted Liberty Christian to win the title game by a slim margin, and the Patriots beat the Red Devils 34-28.

Last modified: December 07. 2013 7:21AM
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