Home USA News Emerald Ridge defeats Eastlake to advance to 4A quarterfinals

Emerald Ridge defeats Eastlake to advance to 4A quarterfinals

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Emerald Ridge running back Logan Lishernes jumps past Eastlake defensive backs Ben Carroll and Colby Marsh (1) during Saturday night's 4A state football playoff game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash., Nov. 12, 2022. Emerald Ridge won the game with by a score of 21-9.

Emerald Ridge running back Logan Lishernes jumps past Eastlake defensive backs Ben Carroll and Colby Marsh (1) during Saturday night’s 4A state football playoff game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Wash., Nov. 12, 2022. Emerald Ridge won the game with by a score of 21-9.

toverman@theolympian.com

Starting in the fourth grade, receivers Tony Harste and Gia Kafentzis lined up for quarterback Jake Shackel. The trio, now in their eighth season together, can’t remember a time when they weren’t on the same team.

“We’re best friends,” Jake Shackle said at Sparks Stadium. “We have such chemistry. We always played together.”

But Saturday night brought both a new experience and a new test. Shackel’s team from Emerald Ridge faced No. 9 Eastlake, the next seed in the 4A bracket. Not only was it the signal caller’s first time in the state playoffs, it was also the Jaguars’ first-ever state appearance.

Early miscues led to some drama in the first half, but the Jaguars’ defense suffocated Eastlake from the second quarter on at Sparks Stadium. Shackel connected with Harste for two touchdowns and Logan Lisherness added a third in a 21-9 first-round win over the visiting Wolves.

The Jaguars are advancing to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history.

“It was a good matchup for us,” Jake Shackel said. “And we delivered.”

Shackell’s first pass of the game was intercepted by Cole Hunt, who lost his balance in desperation on fourth down as the opposing defense sizzled.

“I’ve got good teammates around me,” Jake Shackell said of the first misfire. “I know they’re after me.”

And Eastlake jumped at the chance. Hunt — also a Wolves quarterback — added his interception and hit senior wide receiver Colby Marsh up the middle for a five-yard touchdown on second-and-goal. Eastlake dropped the next point after that, but opened up a six-point lead on the road.

Then another setback from the home Jaguars. Tailback Tayshawn Meeks fumbled on Emerald Ridge’s next play from scrimmage, and Eastlake immediately took over. The Wolves were once again in enemy territory out of a turnover.

Jaguars bent, but did not break. Eastlake’s next couple of offensive drives led to a turnover on long drives and a lost fumble, the latter leading to Harste’s tying touchdown.

Shackel found the junior wide out over center for a 15-yard reception. Emerald Ridge’s point was subsequently tipped on the line, but good nonetheless.

However, the floodgates – for both programs – will remain closed in the second quarter. Instead, there was a frenzy of hitting throughout a scoreless second period.

Neither team entered the red zone in the quarter. Neither one nor the other came close. Eastlake’s only field goal attempt of the first half started at the Emerald Ridge 33-yard line.

“Our defense was incredible,” Jaguars head coach Adam Shackell said. “But you have to give a lot of credit to Eastlake. They are coached so well and they didn’t make many mistakes.

“Fortunately, our defense worked.”

And so the Jaguars, at the home stadium of the Sparks, ran into the locker room at halftime with a one-point lead.

“We just talked about trust and faith,” Adam Shackel said. “That was all. We didn’t talk too much about mistakes. We said, ‘We’ve just got to stick with it, trust ourselves and keep going.’

Lisherness was the tailback in Emerald Ridge, though Meeks offered a change of pace as the Jaguars’ nimble speedster. Harste and Kafenzis, as always, were Shackel’s main weapons.

Perhaps Eastlake’s best scoring opportunity after the first quarter slipped away early in the second half. Lishernes recovered Hunt’s fumble when the signal caller tried to scramble for the extra yard.

But Emerald Ridge failed to benefit from the withdrawal. The Jaguars were forced to punt after a three-and-out, and Eastlake’s ensuing drive led to Alex Dreyer’s 37-yard field goal.

Eastlake led for the first time since the first quarter, 9-7, but their lead lasted just two drives. Shackell drove Emerald Ridge back into the red zone early in the fourth quarter and found Harste for the duo’s second scoring drive, again from 15 yards out.

“If I’m safe, Gio (Kafentzis) is open,” Harste said. “If Gio’s covered, I’m open.”

Up four, the Jaguars went for two, and Eastlake again left Harste wide open. The pass conversion put Emerald Ridge up by six with just a quarter remaining, igniting the mostly packed home crowd in the closing minutes.

Then the explosion of several thousand people present. Lischernes intercepted Hunt’s pass on 4th and 3, putting Emerald Ridge in the driver’s seat.

Shackell and the Offender began a purposefully long drive that led to what would be the decisive moment: Lisheres’ 10-yard rush that made Eastlake’s comeback that much more difficult.

There would be no glorious Eastlake revival – the Emerald Ridge defense held strong, as it had all night.

“Our defense is unreal,” Jake Shakel said. “They’ve been thrown under the radar behind our offense … but our defense, damn it. They are stupid dogs in secondary school.’

Jaguars quarterback Brandon Snell added an interception in the final minutes. The Emerald Ridge defense only allowed Dreher’s second-quarter field goal.

“We got down early, but we didn’t let their momentum carry over,” Harste said. “We came prepared.”

After a one-point loss to Puyallup on opening night, Emerald Ridge rallied on a six-game winning streak in the 4A SPSL to finish third in the league (7-2). Last week’s 41-14 playoff rout of Bothell secured the program’s first-ever state tournament appearance.

Eastlake rode Emerald Ridge to an 8-2 overall record entering state play and finished second in the 4A KingCo. The Wolves’ only league loss came at Skyline on September 16 last year, ultimately crowning league champions Spartans.

However, Eastlake beat Tahoma in the district round last week, 28-0, to secure a spot in the round of 16. The Wolves were hoping to return to the state semifinals, where they defeated Lake Stevens last year, before Saturday. the loss ended his season.

No. 1 seed Chaiwan awaits Emerald Ridge in the quarterfinal round next weekend. The top-ranked Riverhawks remain undefeated after beating No. 16 Sunnyside 49-20 in Saturday’s first round and will host Pasco next weekend.

Adam Shakel cheered: “The road!”

Emerald Ridge became the 16th and final South Sound program to compete in the state competition this weekend. The win pushed the local teams to 8-8 between Friday and Saturday.

All three 4A SPSL teams in the state bracket — Emerald Ridge, Graham-Kapowsin and Sumner — advanced to the state quarterfinals.

“If you guys knew these kids like I do,” Adam Shackel said, “then you’d be rooting for them, too.”

BOX SCORE

E: 6-0-3-0–9

ER: 7-0-0-14–21

Tyler Wicke joined The News Tribune in 2019 as a sports reporter. A 2021 graduate of the University of Washington Tacoma, Wike is involved in sailors, training and duty. Once a near-zero golfer, he’s just happy to break 80 now.

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