MOSES LAKE — In the Quilcene football team’s recent run of success, the Rangers do great in the postseason until they run into one of the powerful eastern Washington 1B schools.
In 2021, this is another hill the Rangers have conquered. They not only beat one of those eastern state teams, they are headed for their first 1B state football championship after walloping a strong Odessa team 36-12 on Saturday in the semifinals held at Lions Field in Moses Lake.
“The kids are super excited. The kids were excited before the game, and they were excited after the game,” said coach Trey Beathard.
Quilcene qualified for the state championship game to be held Saturday against another east state powerhouse, Almira-Coulee-Hartline.
Saturday’s championship game will be held at noon Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School, a relatively short commute for Quilcene fans.
How big was this win for Quilcene? Odessa was the 2019 and 2018 1B state champion and in 2018 the Tigers beat the Rangers 65-6 in the semifinals.
Odessa’s only other loss this year was to ACH by a score of 50-20. ACH was the 2017 and 2015 state champion as these two eastern schools have dominated the 1B championship game for several years now, actually breaking a near-stranglehold on the title that Neah Bay and Lummi had for several years.
ACH made it to the championship game by beating Naselle 68-32 in the other semifinal.
Odessa came in to Saturday’s game averaging 61.8 points a game. Beathard credited his coaches Byron Wilson and Darren Dotson for coming up with a good gameplan on defense.
“And our scout team did a great job of running the Odessa offense,” Beathard said. “If we gave up a big play, it was because we made a mistake, not because we were tricked or surprised.”
Odessa got on the board first in Saturday’s game, gashing the Quilcene defense on the team’s opening drive for some big runs to score just three minutes into the game. The Tigers’ 2-point conversion attempt was no good.
The Rangers responded by methodically moving the ball down the field on 5- and 6-yard runs by Bishop Budnek, who finished with 240 yards rushing on 37 carries, with four touchdowns. Budnek ground out all those yards without any genuine big plays. His longest run of the game was 16 yards.
“He can’t run full speed,” Beathard said. “He ran hard. He showed great effort. He’s still hard to tackle.”
Budnek scored on a 5-yard run with 3:44 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 6-6.
In a play that gave the Rangers all the momentum early in the second quarter, the Tigers went for it on a run up the middle on a fourth-and-1 at the 36-yard line. The referees measured and the Rangers held, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Rangers quickly scored on a series of runs by Budnek and Kevin Alejo, with Budnek punching it in from 8 yards out to make it 12-6 with 3:14 left in the half.
Odessa went for it again on a fourth down deep in its own territory and the Rangers held a second time, getting a golden opportunity to score before the end of the half with a first-and-10 from the Odessa 20-yard line. Quilcene quickly scored on a 15-yard scamper by Budnek with 51 seconds left in the half. Quarterback Nathan Kieffer threw to Alejo for a two-point conversion to make it 20-6 going into the half.
The Rangers got the ball first at the beginning of the half and eighth-grader Jayden Love erupted for a 55-yard kick return to shock the Tigers at 26-6. The Tigers had tried an onside kick and it backfired. Budnek added a two-point conversion to give the Rangers a commanding 28-6 lead early in the first half.
Odessa tried to get back in the game with a quick drive, scoring on a short run to make it 28-12 with still a lot of time left in the game at 7:50 in the third.
In a huge play a couple of minutes later, possibly the biggest play of the game, Odessa scored on a 40-yard pass, potentially getting to within one score of the Rangers, but the touchdown was called back as Quilcene defensive lineman Dominick Smith drew a holding penalty on the Tigers. Odessa never recovered from that call and never seriously threatened to score again.
Quilcene tacked on a final touchdown on a Budnek 9-yard run. Budnek added another two-pointer. He scored 28 of the Rangers’ 36 points.
Beathard said that in three postseason games, Budnek has rushed for 866 yards and has scored 16 touchdowns. He missed roughly half the season with a broken bone in his hand.
Deakon Budnek had 14 tackles and a fumble recovery for the Rangers, while Ashton Johnston had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery. Dominic Smith and Alejo each had quarterback sacks.
Beathard said Quilcene (10-1) has never played ACH (11-0) and he doesn’t have a lot of information on this team. He was able to see some of ACH’s win over Naselle.
“They have some big kids and they’re really fast,” Beathard said.
Quilcene 36, Odessa 12
Odessa 6 0 6 0 — 12
Quilcene 6 14 8 8 — 36
O — 1 run (PAT failed)
Q — B. Budnek 6 run (PAT failed)
Q — B. Budnek 8 run (PAT failed)
Q — B. Budnek 16 run (Kieffer pass to Alejo)
Q — Love 55 kick off return (Budnek run)
O — 2 run (PAT failed)
Q — B. Budnek 9 run (Budnek run)
Rushing — Q: B. Budnek 37-240, Alejo 9-29, Kutler 3-8, Kieffer 4-(-1), Love 1-(-3).
Passing — Q: Kieffer 2-4-17, INT.
Receiving — Q: Alejo 2-17.