Behind Josh Williamson's five touchdowns and 166 yards on 32 carries, Mariner defeated Kamiak 50-22 to clinch a playoff spot in the difficult Wesco 4A South while eliminating the Knights from playoff contention.
"This is amazing," Williamson said. "We went out thinking that this was going to be a good game, but we went out and executed our plays and did what we were supposed to do. They did what they were supposed to do, but we just came out with the win."
After star running back KeiVarae Russell graduated last year, the Marauders might have been overlooked, still, Mariner finds itself back in the postseason.
"That feels great," Williamson said. "Everybody was doubting us from last year, you know, losing a great player. They didn't we think we could do it, but we did it."
As much as everything went right for the Marauders, things went just as wrong for the Knights. Kamiak forced Mariner to punt on its first possession, but fumbled the ball on its first offensive play to turn the ball back over to the Marauders. It took Mariner just three plays before Williamson scored the first of his five touchdowns.
The Knights were forced to punt on their next possession and Kiante Ahmad-Woods made sure the Marauders didn't have much work to do offensively, returning the kick 55 yards to the Kamiak 25-yard line. Four plays later, Woods caught a 19-yard touchdown from quarterback Dan Nadat to give Mariner a 14-0 lead.
The Knights finally showed some signs of life on their next drive, going 73 yards in four plays, capped by a Kyle McMillan touchdown from 10 yards out. McMillan got the score, but Austin Hall did most of the work, rushing for 63 yards on three carries.
In the second quarter, Mariner turned a close game into a blowout. Williamson ran for another touchdown and Nadat threw to Malcolm Manson for a 52-yard score that was followed by a two-point conversion that sent the Marauders into the locker room with a 29-7 lead.
Kamiak coach Dan Mack made an adjustment at halftime replacing quarterback Brett Ludeman with Tyri Bethea and switching to a "Wildcat" formation.
It couldn't have worked any better. Bethea gained 37 yards on three carries on the Knights' first possession in the third quarter and Hall capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run as Kamiak cut the Marauders' lead to 29-14.
Mariner coach John Ondriezek said his defense initially struggled to make an adjustment.
"Yeah we did," he said. "They ended up scoring in about four plays. We needed to make a few adjustments and later on our kids stopped it."
While the defense tried to adjust, the Marauders offense never skipped a beat, answering Kamiak's touchdown with another Williamson touchdown.
"Josh is the guy we go to," Ondriezek said. "You give him the ball and he's eventually going to break it. He's a playmaker. He plays both ways and he hardly ever comes out. He's just a true competitor. He's a good football player that has a bright future ahead of him."
On the Knights next possession, they surprised the Marauders yet again -- this time with Bethea's arm. Bethea connected with Gabe Meshesha on the drive's second play for a 38-yard gain and three plays later Hall scored from 1 yard out and added a two-point conversion to cut the Marauders lead to 36-22.
It was as close as the Knights would get the rest of the way.
Williamson scored two more touchdowns and Mariner found itself in the playoffs.
"The kids are excited about that," Ondriezek said. "They are excited for Mariner High School. It's always fun to get into those games that mean a lot. Right now our kids are really enjoying this victory."
The Marauders rushed for 274 yards in the victory.
"That's the name of our game,' Ondriezek said. "We want to run the football and throw play action. Dan threw two touchdown passes and that's we needed to do. Our plan was to just go in and try to keep them off balance with a lot of motion and unbalanced sets."
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Goddard Stadium
Kamiak 7 0 15 0 -- 22
Mariner 14 15 7 14 -- 50
M-Josh Williamson 5 run (Malcolm Manson kick)
M- Kiante Ahmad-Woods 19 pass from Dan Nadat (Manson kick)
K-Kyle McMillan 10 run (Liam Jouett kick)
M-Williamson 3 run (Manson kick)
M-Manson 52 pass from Nadat (Nadat run)
K-Austin Hall 1 run (Jouett kick)
M-Williamson 1 run (Manson kick)
K-Brett Ludeman 1 run (Hall run)
M-Williamson 1 run (Manson kick)
M-Williamson 2 run (Manson kick)
Records- Kamiak 1-3 league, 3-4 overall; Mariner 3-1, 5-2
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