SEATTLE — Jesse Lewis picked a heck of a time to have his best game in a Lake Stevens High School football jersey.
The senior receiver/defensive back proved the ultimate difference maker in the Vikings’ 31-6 victory over the Graham-Kapowsin Eagles on Saturday night at Husky Stadium, as Lake Stevens claimed its second straight Class 4A state championship.
Lewis caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Kolton Matson, and he also had several pass break-ups on deep balls to Graham-Kapowsin star receiver Malachi Durant.
Lewis was good for the Vikings on both sides of the ball all season long. But on this occasion he took center stage.
“In my opinion it was my best game I ever had,” Lewis said. “My coach gave me a job to guard (Durant) — he’s an amazing receiver, by the way — and (defensive coordinator Eric) Dinwiddie told me if he does not have a deep ball we’re winning the game, and I did not let him have a deep ball. I guess it worked.”
On offense Lewis helped the Vikings get going after a sluggish start. Lake Stevens struggled to get receivers open down field through the first quarter-plus of the game. So on third-and-1 from the Graham-Kapowsin 26, the Vikings ran a play where they faked to the left, then threw a screen pass to Lewis on the right. Lewis found a running lane and rumbled into the end zone to give Lake Stevens a 10-6 lead early in the second.
Lewis’ second touchdown broke the game open in the third quarter. Lake Stevens faced third-and-10 from its own 39. Matson rolled out to his right and found Lewis, who faked a block before leaking out, uncovered as he angled from left to right. Matson hit Lewis in stride, and Lewis raced 61 yards to make it 24-6.
But Lewis was equally important on defense, as the Eagles targeted the speedy Durant deep down the right sideline on multiple occasions. Lewis stayed right with Durant, making pass breakups on two separate drives in the second quarter to preserve the 10-6 lead. Lewis also finished the game as Lake Stevens’ second-leading tackler with seven.
“It was a wonderful game,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said about Lewis’ performance. “Defensively he shut down (Durant), who’s an absolute stud for Graham-Kapowsin. Offensively he caught the ball, ran good routes, got some (yards after contact), blocks his butt off when he doesn’t get the ball. He performed extremely well tonight. But honestly, it doesn’t surprise me, he’s been doing those kind of things all year long. It’s just that we’re so balanced that one week it’s Jesse, the next week it’s Steven Lee, the next week it’s Gabe Kylany, the next week it’s David Brown. We’ve got enough guys that if you leave somebody open, we’re going to make you pay for it.”
Stopping the quarterback run
Lake Stevens’ defense had an excellent game, and a big part of it was taking away the designed quarterback run.
Graham-Kapowsin quarterback Daveon Superales is a dual threat, as the senior came into the game with 3,473 yards passing and 706 yards rushing. Superales found success early in the game on designed quarterback runs, gaining 43 yards on three rushes and scoring on a 2-yard run off right tackle during the first-quarter touchdown drive that gave the Eagles a 6-3 lead.
But the Viking made adjustments that took the quarterback run away. Early in the second quarter Superales had 68 yards on six carries. He had seven yards on nine carries the rest of the way.
“Our inside linebackers (Mason Turner and Keagan Howard) started keying him a little bit more,” Tri explained. “We also cut our splits down a little bit in the box. We started keying him. We wanted to see if they were going to give the ball to someone other than the quarterback, and we were daring them to give it to the running back or somebody else. We knew if we were going to win the game we had to stop (Superales).”
Matson had a big game with his arm, throwing for 231 yards and four touchdowns. However, the junior quarterback/punter also had a big game with his legs — in more ways than one.
First, Matson showed off his running ability. When Graham-Kapowsin’s secondary covered up Lake Stevens’ receivers early in the game, Matson was able to scramble to keep plays alive. The Vikings also called a couple designed quarterback runs that were successful. Matson finished with 43 yards on four carries (when removing his one sack). Not bad for a quarterback who isn’t known for his running ability.
“He’s an athlete,” Tri said. “We’ve known all year long he can run the ball, we just haven’t run him because he’s our quarterback and we want to keep him healthy and fresh. He’s got such a beautiful arm and such good feet that we don’t want him to get banged up. But in the last game of the year we were going to take some chances, so we ran him a little more than we usually did, and you got to see kind of what he can do when we do run him.”
But that wasn’t all. Matson also was a huge factor in the first half with his punts. Matson, lining up on fourth down in the shotgun before taking a few steps back for a pooch punt, had punts of 63 and 48 yards, which played a big role in switching field position. His 48-yarder late in the half, which pinned the Eagles at their own 12-yard line, ultimately led to Lake Stevens scoring a touchdown with 19 seconds remaining to take a 17-6 lead into halftime.
“I’ve never punted like that in my whole history of football,” Matson said. “I was pretty proud of them. I’ve been really trying to put in work on punting during the week, and those punts gave our defense momentum.”