EVERETT — For a Cascade football program coming off two consecutive winless seasons, winning five games a year ago seemed like a big accomplishment.
But what the Bruins are doing this season is even bigger.
Cascade got its seventh victory in eight games by beating visiting Kamiak 28-14 on Friday night, an outcome that clinched the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference South heading into next week’s Wesco crossover game.
Even better, the Bruins clinched a spot in the quad-district playoffs in two weeks.
For Cascade senior Kaleb Dobson, a wide receiver and defensive back, reaching the playoffs “is really special,” he said. “We’ve never accomplished something like this before, so we’re pretty excited about it.”
For fellow senior K.J. Brady, also a wide receiver and defensive back, his first two high school seasons “were rough when we were 0-20. But once the (new) coaches came last year, everything changed. We went 5-5 and you could feel the momentum building, and then this year we just kept it going.
“It’s been a great ride,” Brady added, “and I’m loving every second of it.”
“After losing all the games my freshman year and all the games my sophomore year, I thought I was going to go all through high school without a win,” said Randin Crecelius, a senior lineman. “And coming off those two years, I never would’ve thought we’d be here at this point.”
The Bruins next face Monroe, the Wesco North No. 2, in a game that will determine their opponent in the quad-district playoffs.
“We talk about the playoffs, but not a lot of these guys know what that means,” Cascade coach Joe Cronin said. “In football these guys haven’t been to the playoffs, and a lot of them haven’t experienced that in other sports, either. So for them it’s a whole new experience.”
Against Kamiak, the Bruins started quickly with touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions. The Knights got a TD of their own late in the second period, but Cascade answered promptly with a long kickoff return and a seven-play, 53-yard march for a touchdown with 37 seconds to play before halftime. The score came on a strike from quarterback Josh Smith to Dobson on a deep crossing route.
In the second half, the Bruins suffered turnovers on their first three possessions, and Kamiak turned one into a touchdown to pull within 21-14.
Cascade’s defense, which was stout much of the night, came up with one of the game’s biggest plays with about five minutes remaining. With Kamiak moving toward a possible tying touchdown, the Bruins forced a fumble and recovered to set up a five-play, 63-yard scoring drive for the game-clinching TD with 2:13 to play.
“I thought the kids played hard,” Cronin said. “Their effort was awesome. And even when they made mistakes, they bounced back.”
Cascade finished with a 380-192 edge in total offense, with Smith completing 10 of 14 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns, and carrying 11 times for 59 yards. Running back Malik Rackliff had 14 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Dobson had four receptions for 101 yards and scored a touchdown on a 27-yard, end-around reverse.
“We’ve been really banged up the last three or four weeks,” Cronin said, “but if we get healthy I like our chances. These are great kids, they work hard and their fun to coach.”
Kamiak, meanwhile, advances to a Wesco crossover game against Arlington, the No. 3 team from the North.
Friday’s outcome “is disappointing,” Knights coach Dan Mack said, “but we have to go back to work and get ready for next week. ? Both teams fought hard and we just came out on the short end.”
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Kamiak 0 7 7 0 — 14
Cascade 7 14 0 7 — 28
Cascade—Kendrick 6 pass from Smith (Bowlden kick)
Cascade—Elliot 1 run (Bowlden kick)
Kamiak—Binda 15 run (Menghini kick)
Cascade—Dobson 19 pass from Smith (Bowlden kick)
Kamiak—Webley 4 pass from Becker (Menghini kick)
Cascade—Rackliff 4 run (Bowlden kick)
Records—Kamiak 3-2 league, 5-3 overall. Cascade 4-1, 7-1.