(Auburn, WA) The 2016 High School Football season kicked off Thursday night and ESN was up and on the air at Auburn Memorial Stadium where the Auburn-Riverside Ravens hosted the North Thurston Rams. It was also the debut of 2 of the newest leagues in the State. The Rams, formerly of the now defunct Narrows League is now in the new South Sound 3A conference while the Ravens are in the newly re-organized North Puget Sound 4A League.
North Thurston’s new Head Coach William Garrow was also debuting his new look Rams. Ravens Head Coach Bryant Thomas is entering his 4th season and looking to take the next step with the Ravens after struggling the past 2 seasons.
The game began with an 8 and half minute drive by Auburn-Riverside that was extended with a couple of big plays including a 17-yard run by punter Andy Starkel to keep the drive alive. The 2nd big play a key 4th down pass from Tiano Malietufa to Jaden Robinson down to the 2 giving the Ravens a 1st and goal. Malietufa then ran it in on the next play and Starkel added the PAT to take a 7-0 lead.
The Rams would go 3 and out and the Ravens would take over and finish the 1st quarter with 11-minutes of possession. Auburn-Riverside would turn it over on a punt and looked like they may pin Thurston deep in their own territory facing a 3rd and 10. Clayton Christian would toss a swing pass to Ross Sherer who snagged it just short of the ball hitting the ground. Sherer then broke free and was off to the races getting caught from behind at the 2-yard line completing an 88-yard catch and run. Christian then took it in from the 2 and Wesley Krall knocked through the extra point to tie the game 7-7.
The Ravens counter punched right back with another long drive going nearly 80-yards all on the ground. A-R drove down the field with great run blocking up front and running from Malietufa along with running back Sam Braboy and slot man O’Darious Shaw picked up chunks of yardage in 7, 8 and 9 yards at a time. Shaw pounded it in from the 3 to give the Ravens a 14-7 lead.
North Thurston would not back down and with just 2:34 left to play in the half took over possession. On the 2nd play from the 40-yard-line Christian dropped back to pass and dropped a perfect pass over the top of the Ravens defense into the hands of Devin Santos hitting him in stride and ran into the endzone untouched. The PAT was added and the game tied for the 2nd time as they went to halftime.
The Rams would receive the 2nd half kick-off and didn’t waste anytime putting on an impressive drive to take their first lead in the game. Clayton Christian would strike again this time hitting Gavin Millsap in the endzone and North Thurston would go up 21-14.
Auburn-Riverside hung right with the Rams and came firing right back. Malietufa would drop in a beautiful pass over the Rams defense to Isaiah Prescott who strolled into the endzone. Starkey added the extra point and it was 21-21 midway through the 3rd quarter.
The two teams would remain in check and with time running out A-R was driving with the ball just outside the 20. Malietufa ran the ball with time running out and no time outs left when the ball got punched out and North Thurston recovered. This would send the game to overtime.
North Thurston would get the ball first in the Kansas tie breaker starting from the 25. Sherer would gain 8 on 1st down and then broke free and on 2nd down running it into the endzone for the touchdown. Krall added the extra point and North Thurston took a 28-21 lead forcing the Ravens to have to score.
On A-R’s turn it would take a few more play but Sam Braboy would eventually pound it across the goal line from the 6-yard line for the touchdown and now were just a point away from sending it into a 2nd OT. Rain had been falling for most of the 4th quarter but both teams had done a good job hanging on to the ball. Other than the late fumble by Malietufa but that was due to the defense punching out the loose ball and not the rain.
The rain may have finally caught up with the Ravens because on the snap for the PAT it came out low and the holder could not dig it out. The Rams defense swarmed and did not allow the Ravens to even get off an attempt or a lateral and snuffed out the play for the 28-27 win.
The Rams begin the season 1-0 and the Ravens start off 0-1. Our Tommy Lowe of the Greene Realty Group Players of the Game went to the Rams’ Ross Sherer and to the Ravens’ Tiano Malietufa. Our Pro-Active Physical Therapy Play of the Game went to the Rams defense for killing the PAT in overtime securing the win.