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Cats beat Camas, make quarterfinals
Going into last weekend's state playoff game against Camas, the Mount Si Wildcats' football team was enjoying what is quickly turning into the greatest season in Mount Si football history. But the floods of last week and the obvious questions about focus and whether the fans would turn out in strong numbers with the game being so far away from home threatened to put a quick end to the run.
The defense, particularly the line, answered any potential doubts early and often and the strong play of senior leader Dan Reeves in a critical second half helped lift the Wildcats last Saturday, Nov. 11, to a wonderful 28-7 victory. The win was met with strong approval from the large Mount Si cheering section. A standing-room only crowd of several hundred, including students, parents and the band, made the trek down, and their support was crucial. A number of students celebrated with the team on the field following the game.
Things started off a bit slow for the Wildcat offense. The lone touchdown of the first half was scored on a 5-yard run by running back Brandon Yakaboski late in the first quarter, and Mount Si was up 7-0. The defense took over, led by the absolutely stellar play of lineman Cary Purchase, who took part in the effort throughout the game. "I just knew I had to step up today. My good friend Jeff Chapman, on the other side of the line, got hurt and I knew I had to have a big game and I just came to play," Purchase said.
Wildcat coach Charlie Kinnune said Purchase's play was key. "There's no doubt about it. Cary had a monster game. He was first-team all conference, chosen by the coaches unanimously and he just celebrated today with an outstanding game," Kinnune said.
The Papermakers couldn't get much of anything going offensively until the start of the third quarter when they marched down all the way to inside the Mount Si 20-yard line, but a turnover ended things for the champs of the Greater St. Helens League.
The Wildcats suffered a bit of a scare late in the third quarter when Yakaboski suffered a concussion following a short run. Yakaboski did not return to the game and Reeves stepped up to take his place. The senior went to work and ran one in from 32 yards out for a touchdown to give Mount Si a bit of breathing room soon after Yakaboski's injury. At this point the score was 14-0. Reeves credited his offensive linemen for helping him out. "I just had the ball, that's all it is. The line blocked great," Reeves said.
Then came another big run, this courtesy of Dexter Moetului. He took a pass from Ian Atkinson and ran it in for a touchdown from 38 yards out early in the fourth quarter to put the Wildcats in command, up 21-0. After Camas scored to make it 21-7, a sophomore stepped up and recorded his biggest play with Mount Si. Lineman Alex Hiebert picked off a Papermakers pass and took it right back in to the end zone from a few yards out to wrap things up.
"Well, the quarterback just dropped back and I saw the running back go to the line. I read screen and stepped right in front of the pass and ran for a touchdown," Hiebert said.
With this win the Wildcats recorded their first 10-win season in school history and provided a nice lift for a community cleaning up after record floods. "Oh, no doubt about it. We've got a lot of people, including myself, that are ripping down their walls and doing all that kind of stuff and so it was great. It's great for us. I'm really looking forward to coming home and bringing this victory home to our fans," Kinnune said.
Another long trip is in store this weekend as Mount Si heads over to the Tri-Cities to meet Kamiakin of Kennewick. Kamiakin beat Tacoma's Lakes 14-0 last week to advance.