Emerald Ridge 36, Puyallup 23
(Puyallup, WA) The Emerald Ridge Jaguars made it to the State Semi-Finals last season before getting eliminated from the tournament by Kennedy Catholic falling short of the school’s 1st ever state Championship game. Coach Adam Schakel did lose some key players from last year’s squad but he has some big play-makers coming back and had a huge transfer who paid dividends in their 1st game against cross-town rival Puyallup.
The Jags returned QB Jake Schakel and wide receiver Geo Kafentzis, TE Tony Harste and 4 O-L senior linemen. But they also added Sr running back Navarre Dixon who transferred from Lincoln. Dixon has given coach Schakel a huge new weapon but let’s start from the beginning.
Puyallup came into the game also with high hopes for the season with a huge number of players returning starting with their QB Kaden Rolfsness. At 6’3 215 Rolfsness is an imposing figure who has a gun for an arm and can run over you just as well. Coach Brian Grout also has senior TE and DE Kia Richardson back along with RB Ty Balzarini and LB Drew Cody.
Both teams went 3 and out in their 1st possession. The Jags in their 2nd chance of the game took over on their own 18 and drove it down to the 5 yard line with a lot of help from Vikings penalties, 35 yards worth and E-R made them pay with a 5-yard TD pass from Schakel to Kalon Babcock. The Vikings then jumped offsides on the PAT and E-R sent back in the offense with Dixon plowing in for the 2 point conversion and they led 8-6 with 5:59 to go in the 1st.
The 2 teams would exchange possessions and the Vikings would get it with 56-seconds to go in the 1st on their own 20. They go 4 plays which pushed the game into the 2nd quarter and they had picked up 2 1st downs and got to their own 40. Rolfsness then dropped back and unloaded a deep throw to Nick Neil who got behind the defense and while Rolfsness was taking a big hit he got the pass off and Neil ran under and scored to make it 8-6. Puyallup tried a little trickery with the PAT and the old swinging gate but the Jags did not fall for it and the conversion failed so E-R held the 8-6 lead with 10:44 to go into the half.
The next big play would easily have been our play of the game as E-R went 3 and out and Puyallup had grabbed the momentum and began on their own 40. Rolfsness dropped back and the Viks were setting up a middle screen. It was a sea of white Puyallup jerseys except for one unnoticed black shirt with the number 79 on it and Jesse Maines played the screen brilliantly, jumped up and the big DT grabbed the pass for a huge interception. Had Puyallup converted the pass they had a ton of green in front of them with a trio of blockers, it would have been a huge play.
Instead not only did Maines pick it he had some moves and ran it back to the Puyallup 36 yard line setting up the Jags offense. It looked like the offense wasn’t going to take advantage, after some penalties and good defense by the Vikings it was 4th and 7 from the 33 and E-R went for it. Schakel dropped back and found Isaac Syph underneath who had plenty of room for the 1st down and more as he scampered all the way to the end zone for the score. Asa Lemanu added the PAT and it was 15-6 with 5:42 to play.
Puyallup would go 3 and out and punt the ball down to the E-R 6 with 3:11 to play. The Jags ran a couple of plays that didn’t go far and on 3rd and long Puyallup called a time-out thinking they cold get the ball back with about 2 minutes to play and in good field position. But again E-R came up with a big play as Schakel hit Babcock for a huge 1st down. The Jags then drove down to the 31-yard line of Puyallup and with 34-seconds left Schakel his Kafentzis down the near side for a 31-yard TD pass. The PAT was good and they went to the half with the Jaguars up 22-6.
Puyallup would start with the ball in the 3rd and needed to come out and put some points on the board to set a new tone. On the 1st play from the 20 they got the play they wanted with 68 yard run by Rolfsness on a keeper right up the middle. However, the Vikings sputtered with a penalty and ended up settling for a 30-yard field goal by Luke Faccone to make it 22-9.
Puyallup would be stymied and Emerald Ridge would put the game away with a drive late in the 3rd beginning on their 45 with a 4 play drive that would end on the 1st play of the 4th quarter when Dixon busted one up the middle and into the end zone from the 10-yard-line. Schakel then hit Harste for the 2 point conversion to make it a 21 point game 30-9.
The Vikings would answer and punch in a 2-yard TD run by Rolfsness with the PAT to make 30-16 but just 2:11 left to play. Puyallup elected to kick it off deep and Emerald Ridge got it on their own 20-yard line. The Jags kept it on the ground and they would drive it down to the 1 and have 1st and goal with 47-seconds to play but instead of just kneeing the ball to secure the win the Jags handed it off to Dixon who would plow in for the score. The PAT missed but at 36-16 it’s a certain win.
However, Coach Schakel may rethink running that last play from now on, despite the 36-16 lead on the following kick-off Kyson Douglas returned it to the house on an 85-yard return for the Viks. The extra point was good by Faccone to make it 36-23 with 30-seconds to play. Faccone would kick a great onside kick but it was well defended by the Jags and then the offense kneed it one time to get their 1st win of the season 36-23.
Dixon led the offense with 150 yards rushing and 25 receiving on 1 catch for a total of 175 yards and 2 TD. Schakel went 15-22 for 213 and 3 TD and an INT. Kafentzis had 2 catches for 48 yards and a TD, Babcock 4 catches for 39 and a score, Syph 1 catch for 33 yards and a TD. Jesse Maines had an interception for the Jag defense. Emerald Ridge finished the night with 381 total yards.
For the Vikings, Rolfsness ran for 127 yards and a TD and was 9-13 through the air for 135 yards and a TD and had the 1 INT. Nick Neil had the 1 catch for 60 yards and a TD and Douglas returned the kick-off for 85 yards and a score. Faccone ended the night with the 30-yard field goal and 2 PATs.
Our MVP of the game went to Navarre Dixon who ran for 100 of his 150 yards in the 2nd half and scored twice. So when the Jags needed or wanted to run the clock and keep the drives alive Dixon came up big along with the big fellas up front who opened up some big holes for Dixon. An MVP tip of the hat to the Jags O-line of David Brown, Brody Martin, Ryan Murphy, Logan Putnam, Kaden Thompson and any other of the big guys who rotated in during the game.
Emerald Ridge is 1-0 and will travel to Olympia next Friday to face the Bears, Puyallup will host Graham-Kapowsin on Friday night in a 2nd big early showdown for the Vikings.
If you’d like to watch the replay you can do so on the NFHS Network but you do need to have a subscription. You find the game on this link.
ESN talks with our MVP Navarre Dixon
ESN talks with Emerald Ridge Coach Adam Schakel
Puyallup pulls within 2 in the 1st half
E-R’s Jesse Maines with a huge INT
E-R pushes the lead late in the 1st half
E-R gets a huge score on the 1st play of the 4th
The Vikings refuse to give up with a big K-O return