FORKS — Big-play potential turned into big-play reality as Napavine senior quarterback Laythan Demarest zoomed for 226 rushing yards and two TDs on 22 carries to hold down Forks 34-19 in a Class 2B Southwest League contest at Spartan Stadium on Friday.
“Hats off to their coaching staff and offensive line,” Forks coach Trevor Highfield said. “They did a tremendous job with their blocking scheme, staying with their blocks. And [Demarest] is a shifty, elusive player no question, he gets loose and he’s dangerous. I go back to their offensive line, they did a really nice job on us.”
Demarest also runs even smaller than his listed 5-foot-10, making him a hard target to tackle.
“We talked about it all week and we practiced it all week, roll tackles to try and take him down,” Highfield said. “It just didn’t translate onto the field like we wanted to and the way we thought it would in regards to tackling low and wrapping him up.
“I’m not going to say that our guys didn’t give their best, I thought they did, I also think that kid is very, very good, very talented.”
This will be a tough watch on film for Forks as the Spartans had opportunities.
Forks started strong as Tony Hernandez-Flores returned the opening kickoff 88 yards up the home sideline to the Napavine 2-yard line and Hayden Baker plunged across for an early 6-0 lead.
Demarest had the quick response, a 75-yard scamper and score on the Tigers’ first offensive play.
Forks regained the lead at 13-7 when Carter Windle put the Spartans inside the redzone with a 23-yard QB read run and Baker rumbled in up the middle from 19 yards out. The senior finished with 21 carries for 97 yards and the two scores.
Down 21-13 just over halfway through the second quarter, Forks had a miscue offensively on a fourth-down run to turn the ball over near midfield. Spartans’ senior defensive end Trey Baysinger made a perfect read on a Tigers’ screen pass attempt but couldn’t haul in the interception and likely touchdown. Napavine capitalized on the next play as Demarest hit Evander in stride for a 50-yard strike.
“[That stretch] was tough,” Highfield said. “Momentum is a huge thing in all sports, but especially in high school football. Those singular plays can make a huge impact.”
Forks also wasn’t able to create scores on its own big plays.
Windle hit Hernandez-Flores for a 37-yard pass play deep into Napavine territory in the second quarter but the drive stalled due to a holding penalty.
Hernandez-Flores also recovered a first-half fumble and Logan Olson made a diving interception in the fourth quarter — both plays coming on the Tigers’ side of the field — but neither takeaway netted points.
“I think about causing turnovers. Our defense has been great at creating them and we’ve been great at capitalizing on offense on those turnovers and tonight they did a great job of stopping us when we had those opportunities, so again there’s momentum,” Highfield said.
“We caused those turnovers, we’re there, we’re right there to be able to punch it in and we stall on offense.”
Forks was improved defensively in the second half, allowing a Tigers’ TD on the opening drive of the third quarter, but making the stops it needed to keep themselves in the game the rest of the way.
“Our seniors Tyler Ellis, Hayden Baker, Trey and Derrick [Beebe] did some good things up front. [Junior] Hayden Queen had some plays.”
“It was a team effort in the second half in terms of making adjustments.”
Forks made it interesting on the scoreboard when Windle found Duncan for a 17-yard corner route TD early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t put together scoring drives to pull any closer.
Highfield’s biggest takeaway was how his team competed.
“I’ll say this the biggest thing I am proud about is our character,” Highfield said. “They continued to play hard through adversity and they finished strong and finished with class.
“We talk about this: the coaches No. 1 job is to love our players and the players No. 1 job is to love each other. I was proud they were loving each other and taking care of each other at the end of the game.”
Napavine 34, Forks 19
Napa. 14 13 7 0 — 34
Forks 13 0 0 6 — 19
F — Baker 2 run (kick missed)
N — Demarest 75 run (Osborn kick)
F — Baker 19 run (Perez kick)
N —Low 8 run (Osborn kick)
N —Demarest 1 run (Osborn kick)
N — Evander 50 pass from Demarest (kick missed)
N — Parker 8 run (Osborn kick)
F — Duncan 17 pass from Windle (kick missed)
Passing — Napavine: Demarest 2-5-58, INT. Forks: Windle 7-27-128, TD.
Receiving — Napavine: Evander 2-58. Forks: Duncan 5-79; Hernandez-Flores 1-37; Olson 1-12.
Rushing — Napavine: Demarest 22-226; Parker 20-128; Low 11-42; Dahl 4-15. Forks: Baker 21-97; Ellis 1-11; Dahlgren 1-(-2); Windle 13-(-6).
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or [email protected] news.com.