EVERETT — It’s been quite a journey for the Kamiak High School football team.
The Knights suffered through a brutal stretch of one-win seasons from 2017-19 while losing a combined 25 contests. The second of those seasons was head coach Bryant Thomas’ first year with the program. It was also the freshman season for this year’s senior class.
But all the lumps and bruises from those years have paid off, and losing has become a thing of the past for the Knights as they’ve racked up 10 straight wins since the start of the abbreviated season this past spring.
Unbeaten Kamiak continued to pen its storybook 2021 campaign on Tuesday night against Mukilteo School District rival Mariner at Frank Goddard Stadium.
Standout senior Wesley Garrett showcased his electric playmaking ability with a pair of long TD grabs and two touchdown runs and the Knights secured one of Wesco 4A’s three Week 10 playoff berths with a 41-14 victory.
“These kids who are seniors, they were all playing (varsity) as freshmen — and they were getting beat up by everybody,” Thomas said. “I feel really good for these kids. They have seen the fruits of their labor. What you saw is that hard work that they put in.”
It definitely has paid off.
Kamiak (6-0, 2-0 Wesco 4A) is heading to the Week 10 playoffs for the first time since 2014 when this year’s senior class was in the fifth grade.
“Turning the program around, that’s a huge thing for the culture of this school,” Garrett said.
Achieving the accomplishment in a rivalry game made it even sweeter.
“It’s always nice to get a win against Mariner,” Garrett said. “But a win to go in the playoffs against Mariner, that’s just the best feeling.”
Garrett racked up 160 yards from scrimmage on just 10 touches to go along with his four scores. His long TD receptions of 56 and 61 yards provided the Knights with a big-play ability that proved key. Because Mariner certainly had its chances to hang with Kamiak.
The Marauders (3-4, 0-3) forced a turnover on downs on the first drive of the game that gave them the ball on Kamiak’s 28-yard line. But two plays later a fumbled handoff gave the ball right back.
Freshman Jullian Notoa ripped off a 66-yard run three plays later that appeared to give the Knights an early lead. But Maxim Savchuk made a touchdown-saving play just before Notoa crossed the goal line, punching the ball out from behind and through the back of the end zone for a touchback.
Mariner couldn’t capitalize on that momentum-changing play. A personal foul call after a third-down play put Mariner inside its own 10 and a short punt gave Kamiak the ball at the Marauders’ 19. Garrett scored the first of his four touchdowns on a 1-yard run three plays later.
A 10-yard TD run by Notoa and Garrett’s 61-yard scoring reception made it 21-0 midway through the second. Mariner cut the deficit to 21-7 when quarterback Damien Bagley scored on an 11-yard run with just 43 seconds left in the half.
The Marauders were set to get the ball to start the second half, and they needed to keep Kamiak from busting a big play to get a chance to make it a one-score game.
Garrett had other plans.
The 6-foot, 185-pound all-purpose threat hauled in a pass from quarterback Ben’tre Worthy and weaved through the Mariner defense on his way to a 56-yard score as time expired that gave the Knights a 28-7 lead heading into the break.
“Wes is phenomenal,” Thomas said. “He makes us all really good coaches. The kid has done everything we’ve asked. He’s a leader. He’s just a great athlete. Hopefully he’s opening up some eyes across this country in terms of colleges to come out and see him play and give him an opportunity. He’s a next-level player.”
Bagley cut Mariner’s deficit back to 14 points with 5:27 left in the third. He capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive that spanned 6 minutes, 33 seconds with his second 11-yard score of the night. But that’s the last time the Marauders would put points on the board.
Facing third-and-long on the next posession, Worthy found freshman tight end T’Andre Waverly for a 26-yard connection that kept Kamiak’s offense on the field. Garrett finished the drive with a 25-yard TD run at the 1:32 mark of the third.
Touchdown Kamiak. It's that man again. Wesley Garrett. He takes a reverse 25 yards and into the end zone. PAT good
Q3, 1:32: Kamiak 35, Mariner 14#wafbscores pic.twitter.com/MYjY4furHY— Zac Hereth (@ZacHereth) October 20, 2021
The Knights’ final score came after a turnover on downs handed them the ball at Mariner’s 13 with 50 seconds remaining. Rather than kneeling out the final seconds, Kamiak ran two plays that brought the ball to the 2. The Knights rushed to the line of scrimmage and snapped the ball just before time expired and scored on a 2-yard run by Worthy.
Worthy completed all seven of his passes for 208 yards and two TDs. Waverly had 78 yards on three receptions and Notoa posted a team-best 83 rushing yards on four carries.
Bagley and running back Cartez Williams combined for all but one of Mariner’s 232 yards of total offense. Bagley had a game-high 137 rushing yards on 25 carries and Williams added 92 yards on 2o rushes.
“Our kids played hard,” Marauders coach Mark Stewart said. “I’m proud of the way they played.”
Tuesday’s game was originally scheduled for this past Friday but was moved after being postponed due to COVID-19 protocols within the Kamiak program. The Knights last played on Oct. 1.
Both squads now face quick turnarounds heading into matchups this Friday.
Mariner visits Wesco 3A North leader Arlington and Kamiak visits Class 4A No. 2 Lake Stevens.
“It’s gonna be a tough, uphill battle, but we’ll be ready to play,” Thomas said. “There will be no excuses for us. We want to have the opportunity to play a team like Lake Stevens.”