WALLA WALLA — The Quilcene Rangers football team got off to a good start against DeSales, finding itself down just one touchdown late in the first half.
But DeSales scored on two long touchdown passes early in the third quarter and scored 26 points in the third en route to a 54-14 win over the Loggers in the Class 1B State Tournament opening-round game Friday.
“I felt like we played pretty well in the first half, but we didn’t compete well in the second half,” said Quilcene coach Trey Beathard.
The Rangers were without James Miller and lost Deakon Budnek after he was hurt in the second quarter. Budnek managed to gain 126 yards rushing on 17 carries despite being hurt in the first half.
“We were a little bit shorthanded. We only have two seniors and two juniors and only one of them was playing in the second half,” Beathard said.
The loss completes a successful season for the Rangers, who finish the year at 6-5 with a playoff win and a trip to state despite missing a number of players all year and starting the season 1-3. They lost their starting quarterback Jayden Love early in the year to a broken leg, and Miller and Budnek were not both on the team together until midseason.
The Rangers had a lead early in the first quarter after a Budnek 46-yard run set up his short touchdown run. The Rangers’ Dominic Smith added a 33-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to make it 20-14 for DeSales.
But DeSales bounced back with a quick strike to end the half and then scored two more touchdowns in the first two minutes of the second half to pull away.
DeSales quarterback Joe Baffney had 259 yards passing and 119 yards rushing. “DeSales’ quarterback is really good. He’s an exceptional runner and thrower,” Beathard said.
The Rangers will lose Miller and Budnek next year but return a lot of young sophomore and freshmen who got playoff experience this year. That includes Love, who expects to come back.
“He was second on our team in all-purpose yards despite only playing three and a half games,” Beathard said.
Quilcene’s elimination leaves Neah Bay as the only Olympic Peninsula football team still alive in the postseason. Neah Bay, 7-0, got a first-round bye in the Class 1B state tournament. The Red Devils will play at Forks High School either Friday or Saturday against Wellpinit, which is located on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Beathard thinks Neah Bay is a very physical team and has a chance to go all the way. “Neah Bay has a good shot at it,” he said. “They will do well.”