Vikings tumble to Napavine Tigers in 2B state playoff clash

In a nail-biter of a game, the Vikings football team lost out in their bid to play in the state championship, falling to the Napavine Tigers 27-8.

The Vikings had their work cut out for them from the start.

Defending 2B state champions Napavine, who shares an identical season record with Orcas this year of 8-2, won last year’s state championship against Asotin, 28-24.

But the Vikings have handily trounced their last seven opponents, not only beating but shutting out league teams Darrington, Concrete, and La Conner in their last weeks of league competition.

The two teams started off head to head. Napavine picked up yardage for first downs early on but the Orcas defense held them. The ball turned over to Orcas and Napavine made quick work of ball-carriers Taylor Diepenbrock and Robby Padbury, but then the Vikings got a great break midway through the first quarter. Padbury intercepted it off a tip by Tyler Nigretto, and picked off a Tiger toss for an interception. The fortuitous turnover gave the Vikings the advantage, but they couldn’t gain the yardage to maintain their momentum. Scoreless, the Vikings kicked off to the Tigers, and late in the second quarter with only two minutes left to go after a body-slamming struggle in the Viking endzone, the Tigers slipped in for a touch down.

In the second half the Vikings came out hungry and looking to score, but Tiger wide receiver Micah Brown, running back, picked it off from the Vikings and the Tigers made quick work of their advantage. Tiger quarterback Marty Cozart connected with Tiger wide receiver Matthew Waltenberg and that put more points on the board for the Tigers. Their kick was good, which made the score 14-0, Napavine.

“I am very proud of this team. They’re smart, well-prepared players,” said Coach Dennis Dahl, who was recently named high school coach of the week by the NFL.

In the third quarter, just as the Vikings were beginning to move the ball for positive yardage, QB Padbury fumbled and the Tigers recovered and got the ball down into the Vikings’ territory and into the endzone, but the potential touch down was called back on a blocking in the back penalty against the Tigers. The Tigers kept up their march and finally the Tiger ball-carrier found daylight through the Vikings defense and just pushed it across the line. The kick wasn’t good, and now the score was 14-0, Tigers.

With four minutes left to go in the fourth quarter, Padbury’s arm found Alan Coe for a 10-yard gain. Jacob Hansen caught a 21-yard pass, and Nigretto picked up a 9-yard toss from the QB. Padbury himself ran the ball in for a Viking touch down, breaking the point drought. Scoring the PAT for the Vikings was Hansen, who ran it around the Tiger defense to score the extra two points.

The Tigers had a total gain of 360 yards for the game, while the Vikings had 64 yards rushing and 53 passing.

“I felt like our offensive line was outmatched and outsized,” Henri Bredouw, defensive end and tight end for the Vikings, said.

But it was over, scoring-wise, for the Vikings. With 1:48 left in the fourth quarter Tiger QB Cozart nailed wide reciever Waltenberg who leapt up to snag a 29-yard bullseye that put more points on the board for the Tigers. Their kick was good, which made the score 20-0, Napavine. With less than two minutes left to go, the Vikings had to put it in the air to gain time and yardage, but that put them at risk. Again, Brown intercepted Padbury’s pass to Nigretto and it was over. The Tigers’ offense intentionally grounded the ball with less than 48 seconds left on the clock, and with the passage of time the Vikings’ endeavor to make it all the way to the state championships went as well.

Slideshow Helen Sanders photos.