Knights say they believed all along they’d get this far
By AARON COE
MUKILTEO — When Dan Mack talked about a return to the playoffs before the season started, some wondered if the Kamiak football coach had taken too many hits in his playing days.
After all, three players had moved on to play for Pacific-10 Conference teams, including quarterback Ryan Kanekeberg, who holds every major Kamiak passing record. Only two starters were back, and folks figured the Knights would return to the middle of the Western Conference 4A pack.
Yet here they are, back in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs, same as last year.
"I guess I’m always the optimist," Mack said. "We knew we were young, but we believed all along we could do this."
The Knights are 10-1, which means Mack is no longer an optimist. He is a realist. A victory tonight over Tahoma on Kent’s French Field would put Kamiak in its first-ever state semifinal game.
Surely this Mack madness couldn’t have spread to his players. They couldn’t possibly have believed they’d be back, right?
"We really thought we could go further than last year," running back Reid Wilson said. "Our coaches always remind us of last year’s team. Our goal is to have our coaches not mention them any more."
To go where no Knight has gone before, Kamiak will have to get past a tough 10-1 Tahoma team that is making its first trip to the state playoff since 1995. Tahoma actually lost two games on the field, but one was turned into a victory when it was learned that top-ranked Kentwood had used an academically ineligible player in its 15-13 victory.
The Bears are led by twin brothers Casey and Randy Robbins in an offense that features the run with an occasional pass mixed in. Both are running threats who have combined for more 1,000 yards rushing. Fullback Casey Robbins gets the bulk of the carries, and quarterback Randy Robbins can run and throw. Tahoma lines up three running backs in a line behind the quarterback, a formation the Knights have never seen.
"They have a pretty creative offense, and they’re dangerous," Mack said. "They have three guys who can get a ton of yardage."
The Knights counter with Wilson and Justin Washington in the backfield, a duo that has combined for nearly 1,400 yards. Quarterback Ryan Jones has put up similar numbers to Kanekeberg’s 1999 totals. His favorite target is senior Mike Boyle, who was second in the conference in receptions in only his first year of high school football.
The Knights may not have had a recognizable cast of characters at the season’s beginning, but people are learning. Wilson hopes to burn his name and his teammates’ in Kamiak history with a few more victories.
"I think we can go far," Wilson said. "We’re already headed on our way."
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