RAYMOND — Exchanging their big-play offense for an an exemplary display of smash-mouth football, Raymond’s Seagulls have ended a 13-year state drought.
Darol Ratsavongsy rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns as the Gulls captured the Pacific League football title with a 26-0 victory over rival Willapa Valley on Thursday night at Raymond.
Tenth-ranked among state Class 2B teams, the Gulls (5-0, 6-2) not only captured the undisputed league title but also earned direct entry into the state 2B playoffs on Nov. 9 or 10. This will be their first state appearance since 2000, when coach Rob Clements was a team member.
The fifth-ranked Vikings (4-1, 7-1) will host Mossyrock in a winner-to-state, loser-out district crossover contest at 7 p.m. Friday.
Ratsavongsy’s 77-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put an exclamation point on this victory. Until then, however, the normally explosive Gulls were content to pound away at the Vikings with a ball-control attack.
With Ratsavongsy, Alex Sida, Marcus Lundy and quarterback Andrew Hamilton dividing the ball-carrying chores, they executed that type of offense to near-perfection, putting together two scoring drives of more than seven minutes.
“A lot of credit (for the shortage of long gainers) goes to Valley, because they took away the edges. They made us play their game,” Clements said. “Our backs did a helluva job and our line definitely controlled the line of scrimmage. That was just grind, grind, grind and it was nice they were able to do that.”
Michael McFadden, James Hamilton, Pedro Villegas, cousins Josh and Grant Camenzind and tight end Hunter Borden were the offensive linemen who opened the holes.
The Gulls were equally impressive defensively, limiting Valley to three first downs and 73 yards of total offense. They constantly forced the visitors into third-and-long situations that the ball-control Vikes were ill-equipped to handle.
“We were shocked,” Willapa Valley coach Greg Wonhoff acknowledged. “We knew they were quick, but I’m shocked that they were that quick. They’re a well-coached team, they’re enthusiastic and they’ve totally bought into what their coaches are feeding them.
“A first down was a victory for us,” Wonhoff added.
Aside from Ratsavongsy’s game-clinching run, Raymond’s biggest play may have come before it even ran a scrimmage play.
After a three-and-out on Valley’s first possession, Raymond’s Carte Bisbee took David Rockett’s punt on his own 31-yard line. Circling to the left, Bisbee got a couple of good blocks at the corner, reversed his field and scampered 55 yards before Rockett hauled him down on the Viking 14.
Ratsavongsy gained three yards on a fourth-and-two run, then found a hole over left tackle for a 3-yard touchdown run at the 8:05 mark of the first quarter. A bad snap foiled the conversion.
The Gulls consumed nearly eight minutes on their second scoring drive, capped by Sida’s 2-yard TD plunge with five minutes remaining in the second period. Hamilton and Lundy each contributed 12-yard runs to the 14-play drive, which also included Hamilton’s 7-yard keeper on fourth and six from the Valley 29. A missed conversion kick left it 12-0 at the half.
Raymond’s third touchdown drive nearly duplicated the second. The Gulls chewed up the opening seven minutes of the third quarter on a 60-yard, 13-play drive. Lundy’s 12-yard sweep, accompanied by a Viking late-hit infraction, took it to the 1-yard line, from where Ratsavongsy pounded it in. Hamilton tacked on the first of two successful conversions.
Ratsavongsy’s 77-yard burst on a sweep to the left and Hamilton’s PAT concluded the scoring. The Gulls were on Valley’s 15-yard line with less than two minutes remaining but Hamilton took a knee three times to run out the clock.
Valley’s only legitimate scoring threat came late in the third quarter. Quarterback Matt Konigsberger’s 16-yard pass to Cody Buchanan gave the Vikes first down on Raymond’s 37, but Konigsberger’s fourth-down pass from the 41 was picked off by freshman Elliott Murdock.
Bisbee turned in his typically stellar defensive game, with Clements also citing the defensive play of the Hamilton brothers, Sida and Ratsavongsy.
Wonhoff wasn’t in the mood to single out standouts, but linebacker Zack Friese was in on several tackles.
WV 0 0 0 0 — 0 Ray 6 6 7 7 — 26
First Downs 3 17
Net Rushing 67 281
Net Passing 6 18
Total Net Yardage 73 299
Passing 4-8 2-7
Had Intercepted 1 0
Fumbles Lost 0 1
Yards Penalized 66 25