Nooksack Valley’s Colton Lentz (9) runs with the ball during a game between Granite Falls and Nooksack Valley at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. Nooksack Valley won, 56-0. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Nooksack Valley’s Colton Lentz (9) runs with the ball during a game between Granite Falls and Nooksack Valley at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. Nooksack Valley won, 56-0. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Granite Falls’ bid for state berth crushed by Nooksack Valley

The Tigers fall 56-0 to the Pioneers in a winner-to-state bi-district crossover games.

GRANITE FALLS — The Granite Falls High School football team needed a near-perfect effort and likely a few breaks if it was going to upset Class 1A power Nooksack Valley.

Neither came to fruition, and the Tigers’ season and bid for a state tournament berth ended in a dismantling at the hands of the Pioneers.

Granite Falls allowed touchdowns on Nooksack Valley’s first eight drives en route to a 56-0 loss in a winner-to-state 1A bi-district crossover game Friday night.

“They’re very well-coached,” Tigers coach Brandon Davis. “They have clearly put the work in during the offseason. They are a great football team and I’m not surprised that they’re as good as they are. I’m sure they’re going to have a great rest of the postseason.”

Nooksack Valley (7-2) piled up 327 rushing yards on just 24 carries in a dominant effort on the ground. Junior Colton Lentz rushed for 179 yards and one TD and senior Skyler Whittern ran for 137 yards and three scores.

Senior Joey Brown completed his first nine passes and finished 9 of 10 for 181 yards and two TDs and added short TD run. Junior Cory Olney caught both TD passes and had a game-high 96 receiving yards on six catches.

Senior Kaden LaPlaunt completed 21 of 35 passes for 197 yards and one interception for Granite Falls (7-3). Senior Johnathan Roberts pulled in seven receptions for 70 yards.

Granite Falls’ Kaden LaPlaunt (8) runs with the ball during a game between Granite Falls and Nooksack Valley at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Granite Falls’ Kaden LaPlaunt (8) runs with the ball during a game between Granite Falls and Nooksack Valley at Granite Falls High School in Granite Falls, Washington on Friday, Nov. 3, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)

Granite Falls opened the game with a promising drive and converted three straight third downs as it marched inside the Nooksack Valley 10-yard line, but a fumble on first-and-goal ended the scoring threat.

The Pioneers proceeded with a 90-yard TD drive that took just five plays. Brown connected with a wide-open Olney for a 31-yard score to go up 7-0.

Nooksack Valley piled up six more TD in the first half without a drive over six plays and led 49-0 at the half.

Whittern busted a 52-yard TD run on the first play from scrimmage in the second half to go up 56-0, and the Pioneers closed out the game with their second unit on the field.

Granite Falls, the runner-up in the Emerald Sound Conference, was in search of its second state playoff berth in three years after breaking a 31-year drought in 2021. The Tigers’ seven victories this season matched the 2006 and 2021 teams as the most for the program over the past two decades and marked a five-win improvement from 2022.

“We have an incredible group of guys that have really turned it around and showed that Granite Falls football is meaningful and doing something special,” Davis said. “I think you’ve seen our 14 seniors really set the precedent for what football should be.”

Nooksack Valley, which finished as the runner-up in the rugged 1A Northwest Conference, is returning to the state tournament after reaching the 1A semifinals last season. The Pioneers’ two losses this season came by a combined three points to 1A powers Lynden Christian and King’s, who both qualified for state and won league championships this season, and they hold a victory over 3A Greater Saint Helens League champion Mountain View, which can qualify for the 3A state tournament Saturday.

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