Enumnclaw’s Junior Hornets traveled to Tacoma’s Mount Tahoma stadium to take on the always-tough Tacoma Panthers. It was the first rainy game day the entire season, which set the stage for slippery conditions and eventful passing games.
The fourth-grade team took on the undefeated Panthers club and found themselves with poor field position the entire game. The Panthers’ defense suffocated the Junior Hornets and ultimately wore them down with a victory 26-0.
The fifth-grade team was the pride of the Junior Hornets franchise on the day. Shocking the Panthers with a 6-0 victory, the Hornet defense played lights out all day long, flying to the ball and tackling as a team.
Ben Pozun scored the only TD of the game on a 20-yard, end-around play.
The sixth-grade team also played an undefeated Panther group and fell behind 18-0 early in the first half. Refusing to bow down, the Hornets responded in the second half when quarterback Joe Flanigan hit Brandon Howard on a 60-yard touchdown play. Kellen Kranc also threw a touchdown pass to Riley Snyder, making the final score 37-12.
The seventh-grade team shot themselves in the foot, giving up a 55-yard pass bomb for a touchdown on the second play of the game. After settling in, the Hornets’ defense stepped up and started crushing the Panthers’ offense, disallowing any further damage. The Panthers returned the opening kickoff in the second half for a touchdown, accounting for the final score of 13-0.
Tenacious team defense, led by linebacker Kione Gill, repeatedly turned away the Panther offense. Gill had two quarterback sacks and an interception and Jake Gehri had a strong day at linebacker. Wide Receiver Ethan Eilertson caught a 25-yard post pass from Funkhouser to mount a charge, but the team fell short.
The eighth-grade team, led by a nucleus of teammates who have played every level of Junior Hornet football, played their last game as a group.
Hanging tough in the first half, the Hornets capitalized on a touchdown by Zak Carroll, followed up by spirited team defense, and went into the locker room 6-6 at halftime. The second half slipped away fast for the Hornets as nagging injuries and lack of depth caught up with them. The Panthers dominated time of possession and lit up the scoreboard with several touchdowns, making the final score 38-12.
Kidder McKee hit Brandon Barnett on a slant route for a 50-yard TD.
The Junior Hornets franchise will send four of its five teams to the playoffs Oct. 27 at various locations, one of which will be Pete’s Pool, which will host the sixth-grade team playoffs from the Greater Puget Sound Youth Football League.
– reported by Scott Eilertson