Arlington junior Kaid Hunter runs into the end zone for a second quarter score against Ballard during a playoff matchup Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington junior Kaid Hunter runs into the end zone for a second quarter score against Ballard during a playoff matchup Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Arlington lights up Ballard en route to 3A state playoff berth

Caleb Reed piles up 190 yards and Leyton Martin throws for 5 TDs in a winner-to-state rout.

ARLINGTON — Dominant wins have been a long-running habit for the Arlington High School football team this fall, and in a high-stakes winner-to-state setting, the Eagles kept rolling in a Class 3A Week 10 playoff meeting against Ballard.

Arlington delivered a 54-13 beatdown over the visiting Beavers of the Metro Mountain League on Friday, punching a ticket into the state playoffs next week.

“It’s so exciting,” 16th-year head coach Greg Dailer said. “We set it as a goal to get to the state playoffs and win a state playoff game, which we haven’t done since I’ve been here. So, we’re really excited to be there and we just gotta take that next step.”

The Eagles usual high-powered offense shined through again, and junior running back Caleb Reed saved one of his best performances of the season when it mattered most.

Reed bulldozed his way to 190 yards on 20 carries, adding an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Reed’s first-quarter bursts of 20, 22 and 27 yards helped the Eagles (10-0) set up a pair of field goals from senior Aidan Raney from 25 and 44 yards out, and his production on the ground opened up Arlington’s patented passing game as the Eagles lit up the scoreboard in the second frame.

“We felt like we were bigger and better up front,” Dailer said. “And Caleb’s such a strong runner, and the O-line blocked fantastic once we got things going. That first quarter we were stalled a couple of times heading into the redzone.”

Junior quarterback Leyton Martin was at it again, supplying 253 passing yards on a 20-for-28 night. He tossed five touchdown to four different receivers without an interception.

Martin darted a throw to senior Stevie Balderas for a 22-yard catch-and-run for the game’s first TD at the 7:58 mark in the second, capping off a six-play, 85-yard drive to give Arlington a 13-0 lead.

After Ballard struck back on a 21-yard TD pass from Joe Farley to John Henry Boxwell to make it 13-7, Martin found Jake Willis for a 20-yard score with 3:43 before the half. The junior finished with eight grabs for 156 receiving yards.

After forcing a punt, Arlington stormed back on the other end. Martin hit Willis for a 42-yard catch down the sidelines and targeted junior wideout Kaid Hunter for a 12-yard score with 42 seconds before intermission.

After building a 26-7 first-half lead, the Eagles kept their foot on the gas in the second half.

Senior Jeremy Fleming ended a fourth-down try from the Beavers with a sack, and Martin pinpointed Chase Deberry for a 24-yard TD grab as the Eagles took a commanding 33-7 lead with 6:28 left in the third.

Martin found Deberry for his second TD with 10:35 remaining in the fourth period on a 17-yard toss. Reed pushed through for his lone rushing score on the Eagles’ following drive at the 6:48 mark.

“We know Caleb can run and score,” Arlington offensive lineman Willem Van Dongen said. “We just had to come together as a group and trust each other up front, that was the biggest thing. We’ll make the plays, we’ll do what we need to do. … The line is one big family, as long as we all play how we need to play, we should be solid.”

With 5:06 left in the contest, senior defensive back Kaleb Adams gave the Eagles a nice walk-off, corralling a fumble in the red zone and jetting it back 80 yards for a touchdown to put the finishing touch on the victory.

As Arlington awaits its seeding in next week’s round of 16 state playoffs, the competition will get stouter as the Eagles seek a deep postseason run.

“There are no more bad teams left,” Dailer said. “We’re gonna get matched up with a really good team next week and we’re gonna prepare and get ready for ‘em.”

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