ARLINGTON — Last season, the Lakewood football team didn’t win a league game in the ultra-competitive Northwest 2A Sky Division.
This season, the Cougars are going to the state quarterfinals for the third time in program history.
Quarterback Jared Taylor connected with wide receiver Carson Chrisman for three touchdowns, Lakewood’s defense made four stops on fourth down and the Cougars are heading to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2011 after a 38-12 victory over Sequim in a first-round Class 2A state playoff game Friday night at Lakewood High School.
“It’s the second time since I’ve been here that we’ve been to the quarterfinals, so it’s pretty special,” Lakewood coach Dan Teeter said. “It was a very fun, enjoyable game because it was clear fairly early it was a game we should handle. … When you’re one of the last eight teams left in the state, it’s pretty special.”
Lakewood (9-1) will travel to face the winner of Saturday’s first-round playoff game between Ellensburg and Hockinson in the quarterfinals next weekend.
Facing fourth-and-4 from Lakewood’s 34-yard line, Sequim (9-2) elected to go for it, trailing 14-6 during its second drive of the game. The Cougars’ defense stuffed a run up the middle, which set up Taylor’s second TD pass to Chrisman that put Lakewood up 21-6 with 4:03 remaining in the second quarter.
“Their first drive, they just kind of took a few yards here and there and kept going and got a touchdown, so then you’re wondering, ‘Is this gonna be how it goes all night?’” Teeter said. “We got that first stop. … It was a huge encouragement.”
It was the first of Lakewood’s four fourth-down stops, all of which led to scores for the Cougars.
Lakewood forced another turnover on downs with just 1:29 remaining in the first half, and promptly went up 28-6 following a quick scoring drive capped by another Taylor-to-Chrisman touchdown strike.
“Our defense has been fantastic with bend but don’t break and hasn’t given up many points this year,” Teeter said.
The Cougars received a Landen Pruitt rushing TD and Alan Sepulveda field goal after a pair of fourth-down stops in the second half.
TAYLOR TO CHRISMAN
When Lakewood needed a big play through the air, Taylor’s go-to option was clear.
Facing third-and-goal from the Wolves’ 9-yard line on the game’s opening drive, Taylor looked to Chrisman, who hauled in a nice over-the-shoulder grab in the back right corner of the end zone to put Lakewood up 7-0 with 10:16 remaining in the first quarter.
“Whenver I need yards (when) we’re passing, I kind of know who I’m looking for and that’s just how it worked out,” Taylor said. “He gets open no matter what, and he’ll catch anything I throw to him.”
Two drives later, Lakewood was in the red zone again, and Taylor found Chrisman for the 17-yard scoring connection that put the Cougars up 21-6. And the pair hooked up again for a third first-half touchdown strike when Chrisman made a tough diving catch for a 12-yard TD that put Lakewood up 28-6 with just 23 seconds to go in the first half.
“It could be anybody any week,” Chrisman said of his big performance. “We’re all playmakers.”
Sequim came into the evening with a handful of injuries to key players, including starting quarterback Taig Wiker.
Teeter said that was a surprise to Lakewood as the team had been preparing for Wiker all week.
The junior quarterback’s absence handcuffed Sequim’s offense, limiting the play-selection for Sequim coach Erik Wiker, Taig’s father.
“After a little while, we could just mainly do powers and counters and runs inside, and (the defense) is packing the box,” Erik Wiker said. “… It definitely handicapped us quite a bit…on what we could call. I think (backup quarterback Kobe Applegate) did a great job. I think he ran it pretty dang well, made a couple mistakes just like anybody else starting and playing out there and stuff like that. So, happy on the job (the team) did, but I mean it takes half of our play calls away, easy.”
The attrition affected Sequim on both sides of the ball, which caused the Wolves to move at a methodical pace on offense. Applegate waited for the referee’s five-second signal before taking just about every snap in an effort to keep the number of possessions throughout the game to a minimum.
“If we’re gonna go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight, we wanna go one round. We don’t want to go three rounds,” Erik Wiker said. “We wanna go one round and maybe we get a lucky shot, they don’t get as many shots in. It was definitely deliberate. … If you’re gonna box Mike Tyson, do it for a minute-and-a-half. Don’t do it for 10 minutes.”
“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever seen Jared play, for sure this year.” Teeter said. “He had several 300-yard games last year, but we’ve been running the ball a lot more this year, so it was nice to see him come out and chuck it around. And Carson was on fire. He had a great night and neither one of them surprised me. They’re fantastic players.”
BY THE NUMBERS
0 — The number of punts between Lakewood and Sequim.
23 — The number of plays it took the Cougars to score 28 points in the first half.
67.7 — The completion percentage for Lakewood’s Taylor. The senior came into the game with a 51.6 completion rate.
Jared Taylor, Lakewood
The senior quarterback compiled 228 yards of total offense and four first-half touchdowns to lead the Cougars to a big lead early. Taylor completed 10 of 15 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 101 yards and a score on seven carries.
Carson Chrisman, Lakewood
The junior wide receiver provided the Cougars with a reliable threat on the outside as he hauled in seven passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns.
Walker Ward, Sequim
The junior runningback carried the load for the Wolves offensively with hard-nosed run after hard-nosed run on his way to 155 yards and a TD on 35 carries. He added two receptions for 17 yards.