Kennewick, Kamiakin earn 1st-round state football playoff victories

Exactly half of this region’s playoff football teams will continue this weekend in the WIAA state playoffs.

The Mid-Columbia region began the Washington state playoffs with 10 teams. Now we’re down to five.

Those teams still alive are Kamiakin in Class 4A, Kennewick in 3A, Royal in 1A, River View in 2B, and Liberty Christian in 1B.

Only Liberty Christian didn’t play this past weekend. The Patriots had a bye in the 1B first round by earning a No. 4 seed.

Meanwhile, Chiawana and Richland lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs, as did Othello in 2A, Connell in 1A, and Tri-Cities Prep in 2B.

So here are the quarterfinal matchups involving local teams:

  • Class 4A: Kamiakin (9-2) at Mt. Si (8-3), Mt. Si High School, 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18;

  • Class 3A: Kennewick (10-1) vs. Eastside Catholic (8-2), Memorial Stadium, Seattle, 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18;

  • Class 1A: Omak (7-4) at Royal (10-0), Royal High School, Royal City, 6 p.m., Friday, Nov. 17;

  • Class 2B: River View (10-1) vs. Napavine (9-1), Tenino High School, 5 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18;

  • Class 1B: Neah Bay (8-2) vs. Liberty Christian (9-0), Fran Rish Stadium, Richland, 1 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18.

The big games last weekend were Kennewick’s 27-12 win over Mountain View of Vancouver on a windy Saturday, and Kamiakin’s exciting 36-35 overtime victory over Emerald Ridge of Puyallup.


The two teams battled 28-mph gusts that blew in from the west through Lampson Stadium, changing the game plan for both squads.

“We talked about this before the game,” said Kennewick coach Randy Affholter. “We wanted the football in the first and third quarters going with the wind, so if we could get ahead we would put some pressure on them. We also knew special teams were going to be big.”

He was right. The teams failed to get much offense going for the first 24 minutes, and the visiting Thunder led 6-3 at intermission.

Kennewick running back Alexander Roberts in the 3A football state quarterfinal game in Yelm in 2022.
Kennewick running back Alexander Roberts in the 3A football state quarterfinal game in Yelm in 2022.

But Lions sophomore Cooper Near jump started things in the third quarter when he grabbed the opening kickoff and — running with the wind — returned it 78 yards for a touchdown. It gave Kennewick a 9-6 lead, and the Lions would never trail again.

“I didn’t think I was going to return it,” said Neer, who was the upback on the return team. “Everyone was blocking down on the right side, so I took it left and to the outside. I felt super slow out there. And about the 30 or 20, I thought they were going to catch me.”

As a ninth grader, Neer played running back last fall on the Kennewick freshman team. Those rushing skills came in handy.

As a varsity linebacker, the sophomore dominated on defense. Neer had six tackles (1 for loss), and a forced fumble.

“I did my job — my 1/11th — on the defense,” Neer said. “Everybody did their job. I just love how everyone loves each other on this team.”

The Lions played without regular starting quarterback Ambrose Driver, who tore his ACL in the 38-0 crossover win Nov. 4 over visiting Mercer Island.

He’s done for the season, and so Affholter called on Driver’s younger brother, Dominic Driver, to run the offense against Mountain View.

Affholter even put running back Alex Roberts in the Wildcat formation to take some snaps and take some pressure off of the younger Driver.

It worked.

“In the fourth quarter, Dominic did a great job of running the offense,” Affholter said.

Canaan Hays led the Lions with 103 yards rushing on 19 carries; Roberts added 17 carries for 77 yards. Each running back also scored a touchdown.

Roberts also stepped up on defense with two tackles (1 for loss), a fumble recovery, and an interception.


Kamiakin led this game 21-14 entering the fourth quarter on Friday night at Lampson Stadium.

It was still that way with 4 ½ minutes to play.

And then 36 points were scored.The Braves led 28-20 with 1:31 left when Camden Schmidt — who rushed 23 times for 189 yards and three touchdowns on the night — broke free for a 35-yard touchdown run.

But Jaguars quarterback Jake Schakel marched his team 80 yards — hitting Kajon Babcock with a 30-yard TD strike with 25.8 seconds to play. Schakel would add the 2-point conversion run to tie the game at 28-28 and force the OT.

In the Kansas Plan overtime, Emerald Ridge moved 25 yards in five plays, with Navarre Dixon rushing in from 2 yards out, and took a 35-28.

Kamiakin answered with a four-play, 25-yard scoring drive. Trent Woodhouse connected with Kyler Rutz on a 19-yard TD pass on a 4th-and-4 situation.

Kamiakin quarterback Trent Woodhouse looks downfield for an open receiver during a September 2023 game.
Kamiakin quarterback Trent Woodhouse looks downfield for an open receiver during a September 2023 game.

Then the gutsy play call from Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin came in: the Philly Special (which was run by the Eagles in the Super Bowl in 2018.

Woodhouse took the snap in the shotgun formation, flipped to a receiver in motion running right to left. That receiver pitched to Carter Poland, running left to right. Meanwhile, Woodhouse had run a route to the right side of the end zone, where Poland connected with him for the winning play.

It kept alive the Braves’ season.


The host Bullpups took a page from this year’s Riverhawks’ script by forcing two turnovers into touchdowns — a blocked punt return and a fumble return for scores.

Julian Martinez was 13-for-30 for 147 yards passing for Chiawana, while Brazton Feldmann rushed for 101 yards.

The Riverhawks had been reeling the past 10 days. Chiawana assistant coach Robert Booth passed away Nov. 1 from a medical condition. Yet Chiawana found a way to win at Moses Lake 49-32 two days later in the 4A regional crossover playoffs before falling Saturday in Spokane.


The visiting Bombers stayed with the top-seeded Eagles until the middle of the third quarter, when the Eagles pulled away for the 4A first-round win.

Richland finished the season with a 7-5 record, and played four games in the last 16 days.

Bombers senior QB Josh Woodard capped his senior season by completing 30 of 50 passes for 466 yards and four TD passes.

Brody Bocek was his top receiver, catching 8 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns. Rayce Reeves added 6 catches for 119 yards and a score.


Host Enumclaw built a 28-12 halftime lead and never looked back to eliminate the visiting Huskies in a 2A first-round game.

Othello ends its season with a 7-3 record.


Lance Allred accounted for 380 offensive yards as he led the No. 1-seeded Knights over Eatonville in a 1A state playoff in Royal City on Friday.

Allred was 19-for-21 passing for 328 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 10 times for 52 yards and a score.

Royal’s Case Christensen caught 6 passes for 116 yards and a touchdown, while Jackson Larsen added 6 more receptions for 78 yards and a TD.

Knights middle linebacker led the defense with 15 tackles.


The visiting Eagles (5-6) saw their season end in Blaine on Friday.

Jackson Forsyth finished the 1A playoff game for Connell rushing 29 times for 101 yards and two touchdowns, while Kellen Riner caught 7 passes for 90 yards.

Quarterback Carson Lloyd added 80 yards passing for Connell.

RIVER VIEW 47, ASOTIN 20: The host Panthers advanced out of the first round with a victory over Asotin in the 2B playoffs at Fran Rish Stadium in Richland on Friday night.

The Panthers, now 10-1, led 24-13 at halftime. They outscored the Tigers 23-7 in the second half.

No other details were available.


The visiting Jaguars saw their season end with a loss in the 2B state playoffs.

Toledo led 21-0 at one point before TCP scored two fourth quarter touchdowns — a 19-yard pass from Jarrett Garza to Marcus Hiett, and a 5-yard strike to Jameson Elliott.

Garza finished with 117 passing yards, and he led the Jags with 26 rushing yards.

Prep finishes with a 7-4 record.

Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Tri-City Herald.