Prep football: Graham-Kapowsin 42, Monroe 17

SPANAWAY — The beauty, and the agony, of playoff football is one team moves on, and one team sees its season come to an abrupt end.

Friday night at Art Crate Field, it was the Graham-Kapowsin Eagles who lived to play another game, besting the Monroe Eagles 42-17 in a game that was harder fought than the score suggests.

The Eagles now prepare to take on the Narrows League 4A champion Gig Harbor Tides in the state playoffs, while the Bearcats are left to wonder what could have been.

It was hard not to feel just a little bit bad for the Bearcats. Facing a powerful Graham-Kapowsin team that finished the regular season 8-1 on its way to second place in the SPSL South, injuries for Monroe turned what would have likely been a competitive contest into clear mismatch.

Bearcats’ freshman quarterback Kainalu Batongbacal was given a particularly tall task, making his first varsity start in his team’s biggest game of the season. Filling in for sophomore signal caller Zack Zimmerman, who was injured in practice during the week and could only watch from the sideline, Batongbacal’s night certainly had its moments ­— including a gorgeous 84-yard touchdown strike to senior receiver Shanden Mixayphone down the visitors’ sideline in the first quarter.

But in the end, the strength of the Eagles simply proved too much for the undermanned Bearcats to keep up with.

“I’m just proud of them,” said first-year Monroe coach Brett Jay of his team. “We play this game to learn something about ourselves, and to grow as men, and we did that. … This is the best game there is. It puts you in tough situations that you have to overcome, and we overcame a lot of adversity this year, and never blinked an eye.”

The Eagles, meanwhile, rode many of the same things that have carried the team for much of the season — strong offensive line play, tough running, and timely passing from quarterback Trevor Asbjornsen. Senior speedster Shannon Edwards was particularly effective, as usual, finishing with 151 yards and four touchdowns on 27 carries. Edwards’ 32-yard touchdown scamper down the sideline with just over seven minutes left in the fourth quarter effectively sealed the game for Graham-Kapowsin.

“Monroe played hard. They got after it. Their kids played with intensity, and we had to match that,” Graham-Kapowsin head coach Eric Kurle said. “Now, we’ve just got to keep playing better every week. Everybody’s going to get better and tougher. We’ve got some great teams coming up.”

At Art Crate Stadium

Monroe 10 0 7 0 —17

Graham-Kapowsin 21 0 14 —7

GK—Shannon Edwards 2 run (extra point good)

Mon— Shanden Mixayphone 84 pass from Kainalu Batongbacal (Tanner Ohlson kick)

GK—Dan Lorenze 1 run (extra point good)

GK—Kobe Meriweather 13-yard (extra point good)

Mon—Ohlson 38 field goal

GK—Edwards 24 run (extra point good)

GK—Edwards 2 run (extra point good)

Mon—JJ Jerome 2 run (Ohlson kick)

GK—Edwards 32 (extra point good)

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