The Lyle/Wishram/Klickitat eight-man football team played the role of barnstormer last week in pursuit of a spot in the eight-team WIAA 1B state tournament field.
In all, the Cougars traveled east on Tuesday and north last Saturday for play-in games against Garfield-Palouse and Entiat, respectively. They won both by a combined score of 115-38 to earn a state tournament berth.
The Cougars (8-2) will again be on the road this Saturday when they travel to Woodland HS to take on the Naselle Comets in a neutral site quarterfinal game. Kick off is set for 4 p.m. The winner moves on to the semifinal round on Nov. 24.
Last Saturday in Wenatchee’s Apple Bowl, junior tailback Brandon Montoya scored six touchdowns (four rushing, two receiving) to lead an LWK offense that tallied 22 first-quarter points and led 40-16 at halftime and 69-22 after three quarters.
Kurtis Billette also played a prominent role in getting the ball into the end zone for the Cougars. The senior quarterback threw five touchdown passes and scored two himself (one rushing, one receiving from senior fullback Sam McCullough). His five passing touchdowns represented a career single-game high.
LWK never trailed. The Cougars kicked off, stopped the Tigers, then posted the first points on the board when Montoya scored on a 57-yard run with 9 minutes remaining in the first quarter. Montoya’s run for the 2-point conversion made it 8-0.
The Tigers (8-3) evened the score at 8-8 after scoring on an 84-yard pass and completing a pass for the 2-point conversion. The closest Entiat got the rest of the way was 28-16 on a 53-yard pass with 5 minutes left in the first half.
“Our defense was on point, shutting down any run game Entiat had, so they were left throwing,” Cougars Coach Antoine Montoya said. “They did well, but on a few big plays.”
LWK countered Entiat’s second TD pass with a 45-yard run by Montoya. The Cougars thought it was a touchdown but officials marked him down at Entiat’s 1-yard line.
No worries. Billette scored on a quarterback sneak on the ensuing play to make it 34-16 with just under 5 minutes to go before halftime.
“Entiat’s defensive line lined up without a nose guard and we punched it in up the middle,” Montoya said.
Last Tuesday, the Cougars overcame a 16-14 first-quarter deficit to lead 20-16 at halftime en route to a 38-16 victory that kept their state tournament hopes alive and ready for another road test.
The second-half defensive effort came against a Vikings team that had averaged 52.7 points per game to go 9-1 during the regular season. The LWK offense, meanwhile, exploited a defense that had given up an average of 34 ppg.
Montoya, who scored four touchdowns on runs of 54, 80, 55, and 20, paced the LWK offensive attack on a cold, dry night on the Palouse.
The first quarter went back and forth. Montoya put LWK ahead 6-0 with a 54-yard scoring run with 3 minutes gone in the game.
LWK took the lead again on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Billette to DeSean Leslie at the 4-minute mark. Montoya’s run for the conversion made it 14-8.
The Cougars went into their locker room at halftime sporting a 20-16 lead, thanks to Montoya’s 80-yard sprint for paydirt midway through the second quarter.
A pair of Montoya touchdowns in the third quarter doubled LWK’s lead to 32-16.
McCullough broke through for a 45-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes left in the game to seal the deal for the Cougars.
Coming up: The third-seeded Naselle Comets bring an 8-1 record and an eight-game win streak into Saturday’s state quarterfinal game in Woodland.
The Comets, from Pacific County, scored 499 points (55.4 ppg) and allowed 178 points (19.8 ppg) during their regular season. They haven’t played since Oct. 26, when they pinned a 54-22 loss on Neah Bay, on the road.
The Cougars seeded sixth, have won three in a row since losing at home on Oct. 18 to St. Paul, Ore.
Their offense has scored 471 points (47.1 ppg) while their defense has yielded 182 (18.2 ppg) in 10 games to date (three at home, seven away).
In neutral site games, LWK is 1-0 and Naselle is 0-1.
The winner of Saturday’s game will play either second-seeded Almira/Coulee-Hartline (10-1) or seventh-seeded Crescent (11-2) in a semifinal game on Nov. 24.
The WIAA 1B state championship game will be played on Dec. 1, starting at 4 p.m., in the Tacoma Dome.