Only 16 teams from around the state’s Class 2A ranks are still playing football and the White River Hornets are a part of that elite fraternity.
The Hornets kept their season alive Friday night with a 24-14 victory over North Mason High. The win, on the White River campus, was considered the district round of postseason play.
This week, the Hornets will face a familiar foe as they attempt to crack the 2A’s Elite Eight. At 7 p.m. Friday, White River will make the short trek to Orting and square off against the Cardinals. The two met earlier this season in a South Puget Sound League 2A matchup, with White River walking away with a 26-21 victory. Both teams enter Friday’s state game with 7-3 records.
Last week, while White River was defeating North Mason, Orting was putting a 37-14 pasting on North Kitsap.
The winner of Friday’s White River/Orting battle will take on the winner of a Sehome/Tumwater game, to be played Saturday. Sehome is 5-5 on the season, while Tumwater is 10-0 and ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A ranks.
White River’s district win over North Mason was decided in the second half, as the two teams were deadlocked at 14 when heading into the locker room at halftime.
The Hornets’ first-half output came courtesy of a pair of short Keenan Fagan touchdown runs.
White River took the lead for good shortly before the end of the third period, courtesy of a colorful 32-yard field goal by Alex Morris. His boot caromed off the left upright, sailed across and hit the right upright and, finally, dropped on the winning side of the crossbar.
The Hornets sealed the deal with 5:24 on the game clock by doing what the Hornets do best – handing the ball to Fagan. He toted the ball six times on a seven play, 99-yard drive. The only non-Fagan play was a tricky number where quarterback Sean Hayes handed off to Dustin France who launched a long pass to Garrett Quiles. The play covered 51 yards and took the ball to the nine-yard line, setting the stage for Fagan to score on the next play.
The long drive immediately followed a dramatic goal-line stand. The Hornets stuffed the Bulldogs on a fourth-down play that started just inches from paydirt.
White River won the game on the ground, rushing for 296 yards. Fagan was the workhorse, carrying the ball 28 times for 189 yards. Tristan Knaus added 72 yards on nine carries. The Hornets attempted just four passes.