By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
SHORELINE — Once again the King’s football team gets to ride its quarterback into the postseason.
In a 1A tri-district game at Woolsey Stadium Friday night, signal caller Koa Wilkins wore down Eatonville with his arm as well as his legs and King’s cruised to a 30-12 victory over the Cruisers.
The sophomore quarterback had a big night, rushing for 119 yards on 26 carries and passing for 192 yards. He completed 10 of 16 on the game, carrying the biggest load he has all season.
“It’s a good tired,” Wilkins said with a smile after the game that sends King’s into the 1A state playoffs against a road opponent to be determined by other seeding games this weekend.
Next he’ll try to do something his predecessors at quarterback for the Knights never did. Billy Green (BYU red shirt quarterback) and Thomas Vincent (walk on at University of Washington) racked up amazing numbers, but never managed to make it to the 1A state semifinals.
Wilkins watched and learned from Green as a freshman.
“I know Billy was great,” Wilkins said. “A great leader and everything. I looked up to him and I try to be just like him.”
Coach Jim Shapiro thinks Wilkins already has the leadership part of the equation.
“Leadership encapsulates what he’s about,” Shapiro said. “Tonight he grew up. He ran the ball a lot for us … he’s a tough kid he’s a competitor that’s why he won that job as a sophomore.”
But early on Friday night, it didn’t look like the game would go so heavily in the Knights’ favor. The King’s offense sputtered as the team failed on fourth down on its first two drives. The defense picked the team up with a fumble recovery on the Knights own 12-yard line and a four down stop of its own.
“Our defense has been our strong suit all year long,” Shapiro said. “I would say they are one of the better in 1A. Tonight they did exactly what we needed them to do.”
After stuffing the Cruisers on fourth down midway through the second quarter, the Knights went on a four-play drive keyed by a Wilkins’ 35-yard pass to Lucas Swanson, who tiptoed down the sideline. Wilkins punctuated the drive with a 4-yard scoring run that broke the deadlock with 4:40 to go in the first half.
The Cruisers looked to run out the clock and go into half trailing just 7-0, but a holding penalty made it first-and-20 on the Eatonville 9-yard line. Cruiser quarterback Jacob McCormick couldn’t even get into his rollout before the King’s front overwhelmed him for a nine-yard loss and safety.
“There was an emotional momentum behind that,” Shapiro said. “You get that two-point cushion in your favor … that was the tipping point.”
A solid return on the kickoff, put the Knights in Eatonville territory at the 47 with 2:30 to go in the half. On 2nd and 12, Wilkins dropped back and found Jordan Turner running down a seam in the Cruiser zone for a 33-yard score. King’s went from in trouble to in control in under five minutes leading 16-0 at the break
Eatonville lost its starting quarterback and opened with a listed wide receiver under center in the second half. But Caleb Keefer had a brilliant 34-yard TD pass on fourth down to give the Cruisers brief hope. However, Wilkins and company controlled the clock the rest of the way and he collected his second and third rushing touchdowns of the game.
Eatonville scored a 4th-quarter touchdown against the Knight reserves.
With Wilkins and a monster defense, this team is confident it can break through in the 1A playoffs.
“We had some guys last year that were really good,” Wilkins said. “But this year I think we have the team to take it all the way.”
At Woolsey Stadium
K—Koa Wilkins 4 run (Ryan Fransen kick)
K—Team Safety QB tackled in end zone
K—Jordan Turner 33 pass from Wilkins (Fransen kick)
E—Wyatt Coleman 34 pass from Caleb Keefer (kick blocked)
K—Wilkins 8 run (kick blocked)
K—Wilkins 14 run (Nick Severson run)
E—Patterson 2 run (run failed)