TACOMA — A whole bunch of 8-man football experience went a long way for Neah Bay in a 66-26 thrashing of Class 1B newbie Tacoma Baptist in a state quarterfinal matchup at Mount Tahoma High School.
With Thursday’s win, the No. 3 Red Devils (9-1) advance to a semifinal matchup against No. 1 Lummi (11-0), the eighth consecutive season Neah Bay will face the Blackhawks in the postseason and fifth-straight time the team’s will meet in the semifinals.
“We played a lot better [than last week’s 58-22 win against Taholah],” Neah Bay coach Tony McCaulley said of the win over Tacoma Baptist.
“We came out with lots of energy, got a stop on defense and went from there.”
The Red Devils rolled out to a 24-0 lead after one quarter.
Cole Svec scored on the team’s third offensive play, taking a pitch to the left sideline and racing in from 29 yards out for an 8-0 lead.
After forcing another punt defensively, Neah Bay put together a 73-yard drive that ended with Rwehabura Munyagi Jr. rolling out to his left and finding Cameron Buzzell for a 14-yard TD pass and a 16-0 lead.
Svec strolled 63 yards to put the Red Devils inside the red zone on Neah Bay’s next drive.
Munyagi then used his 4.5 40-yard dash speed to beat all Crusaders’ defenders to the left pylon on 4th-and-5 for another first-quarter score.
“Cole got it going for us,” McCaulley said of the senior running back and linebacker. Svec finished with 213 rushing yards on just 13 carries. He also caught two passes for another 44 yards and returned a kickoff 67 yards for the final score of the game.
“Our defense played pretty well in that first quarter and we were able to get up three touchdowns on them and it kinda shellshocked them. They weren’t expecting it. They hadn’t played Lummi or any of the other higher-ranked teams this season.
It was the first season playing 8-man football for Tacoma Baptist (10-1) after going 0-9 in 2014 and 2-7 in 2015 in the 2B ranks.
“They hadn’t been playing 8-man that long, hadn’t been to the playoffs in a while and it turns out that the postseason is a different place,” McCaulley said.
Munyagi added a pair of TD runs in the second quarter and Neah Bay led 38-6 at halftime.
“Everybody played pretty good,” McCaulley said.
“Not one person didn’t come to play, so this was pretty much a team effort.”
McCaulley said his team was focused on containing Tacoma Baptist quarterback PJ Talen.
“I wanted to stop their speed,” McCaulley said.
“Their QB was shifty, and they had a pretty tough, fast running back, so we were concerned about their speed and I think we matched it better than anybody else did this year.
“They just had a hard time dealing with our speed on defense. Their QB wasn’t used to having guys in his face like that.
It was hard for McCaulley to not single out every player for praise.
“Cole played good, Cam covered well, Ben Greene had an outstanding game at defensive end,” he said.
“Tommy Tyler, I could go on and on, they all played well defensively.”
Now the Red Devils must go on the road to face Lummi in the state semifinals.
And just where that game will be played is still a matter of discussion.
The WIAA moved the state semifinals out of the Tacoma Dome this year, where westside final four games have been played since 1984, citing rising rental rates for the facility.
Now, westside semifinals will be played outdoors on neutral fields.
McCaulley didn’t know where or when the game would be played as of Saturday morning.
Potential sites may include Bellingham’s Civic Field, Everett’s Memorial Stadium, Oak Harbor High School or the Edmonds School District’s stadium. And he wasn’t sure if the game would be played Friday or Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter where we play it,” McCaulley said.
“It doesn’t matter the day. We’ve played the day after Thanksgiving and the Saturday after Thanksgiving and it’s tough for both teams.”
McCaulley went to scout the Blackhawks’ 56-16 quarterfinal win over Naselle and came away impressed.
“It will be a real good football game. Lummi’s as good as ever, they put up 35 in the first quarter against Naselle. They have a good group of kids. It will come down to a few points like it always does.”
Lummi owns a two-game winning streak against the Red Devils having beaten Neah Bay 36-30 in September and 26-20 in the state semifinals last season.
Neah Bay 66, Tacoma Baptist 26
Tac. Baptist 0 6 6 14— 26
Neah Bay 24 14 14 14— 66
NB—Svec 29 run (Svec run)
NB—Buzzell 11 pass from Munyagi (Svec run)
NB—Munyagi 6 run (Munyagi run)
TB—Stone 14 pass from Talen (run failed)
NB—Munyagi 23 run (run failed)
NB—Munyagi 1 run (Svec run)
NB—Tommy Tyler 1 run (run failed)
TB—Lirazan 20 pass from Talen (pass failed)
NB—Munyagi 7 run (Tyler run)
NB—Buzzell 56 fumble return (run failed)
TB—VonBarnauSythoff 48 run (run failed)
TB—Leaman 2 run (Leaman run)
NB—Svec 67 kickoff return (Munyagi run)
Rushing—NB: Svec 13-221; Munyagi 10-96; T. Tyler 5-36; P. Greene 1-3; N. Tyler 1-3; Buzzell 1-0; Soeneke 1-0; Halttunen 2-(-1).
Passing—NB: Munyagi 5-10-1, 101, 1 TD.
Receiving—NB: Buzzell 3-57; Svec 2-44.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]