Friday, October 28
2016 Game 8: Richland 21, Chiawana 14
October 21, 2016
The final score of a game doesn't always give an accurate depiction of that game. Bombers vs Riverhawks 2016 was one of those games. Both teams were undefeated, both had a high scoring offense, both had a tough defense that hadn't allowed many points, and both teams were ranked in the top five in the state. Since both teams had already secured playoff spots, this game would be for playoff seeding as well as the conference championship. Bragging rights were at stake in this relatively new rivalry game as local media had proclaimed Chiawana as both an immovable object and an unstoppable force. Although Richland came away with a 21-14 win, there was much more to it than that.
The Bombers took the opening kickoff, but were forced into the usual opening three-and-out. Chiawana had no surprises up their sleeve, using the MCC rushing yardage leader Andrew Vargas almost exclusively. It seemed like it would work well since Richland hadn't adjusted their defense to account for the Riverhawk running game, but the defense stiffened near mid-field and forced a punt. After a short gain from scrimmage, running back Ben Stanfield fired up the Bomber faithful with the first big play of the game, breaking the grasp of one defender, spinning out of the pile of lineman, and breaking downfield before being pushed out of bounds at the 40 yard line for a 27 yard gain. Conventional wisdom would be the opposite game plan from Kamiakin—Kamiakin couldn't stop the run but could defend the pass, so run the ball. Chiawana had what was supposed to be an impenetrable D line and weak defensive backs, so the passing game would be the way to go. As it turns out, the Bombers could run and pass against Chiawana, but as they tested the waters there were punts and turnovers on downs through the first quarter. Chiawana, on the other hand, had no experimenting to do. It was Vargas or nothing. After Vargas broke a 26 yard run to get to Richland's 25, the coaches sent in 300 pound offensive lineman Dantae Powell to bolster the line. With Powell in to relieve Brigham Whitby from well-deserved double and triple team blocking, the shutdown began. Despite good field position, the Riverhawks couldn't find the endzone and the first quarter ended scoreless.
Taking over at the 20 after a missed field goal, the Bombers went to work again. Stanfield made another big play, breaking through and around the defense and nearly going all the way before being dragged down by the back of the jersey at the 45. Holding and intentional grounding penalties pushed Richland back to their 25, so another punt was in order. Chiawana's next offensive series served as a microcosm for the rest of the game. With the run stifled and the pass having no success, the frustration was visible. On a play that appeared to be successful, Josh Mendoza stepped in and simply took the ball out of Vargas' hands, the first of four fumbles for the back. Richland used running back Parker McCary to keep Chiawana honest and got two big catches from Mendoza. Victor Strasser bulled his way through the middle to get inside the 10, and Stanfield followed Strasser's block around the right end on the next play for the first score of the game. After trading punts, the Riverhawks started on their 11, but Mendoza popped the ball out of Vargas' hands again. They got the ball back on a blocked field goal, but lost it again two plays later on a bad handoff from the quarterback to Vargas. The half ended with Richland leading 7-0 and Chiawana's confidence visibly shaken.
The second half continued the Riverhawks' woes. The short kickoff hit star linebacker Caleb Weber in the numbers and the Bombers recovered at the 35. It took seven plays to take advantage of it, riding McCary down the field, aided by a pass to Mendoza. From the 1 yard line, McCary jab stepped left and then cut right, blasting through a hole provided by Colton Michaels and Aric Davison. At 14-0 early in third quarter it looked bad for Chiawana. The momentum had swung hard in Richland's favor and the defense was not letting up.
The Riverhawks weren't about to roll over, though. The return man took the kickoff back to the 50 and might have taken it all the way if William Harshaw-McDonald hadn't stuck his hand in and flipped the ball loose. From the 50, Chiawana abandoned their main weapon for a deep pass. Although the receiver was well covered by Ryan Piper, the pass was tipped and grabbed just before hitting the ground by a diving Riverhawk. The completion accounted for 45 of Chiawana's 77 passing yards. Five yards from the goal, Chiawana was poised to score. Vargas took the ball to the one before being knocked out of bounds by Garrett Guffey. With the 230 pound Weber lined up to block for Vargas it was no secret where the ball was going. The snap was bobbled under center and recovered by Piper on the blitz. Bomber ball on the 3 yard line.
After a timeout, the Bombers sensed a point of no return for the Riverhawks and went for the throat. With McCary and Stanfield both in the backfield it looked like a run. McCary blocked right as Stanfield jetted out of the backfield to the left and ran under a beautiful lob by Stevens, caught it wide open at the 25, and left every pursuer in the dust as he raced the length of the sideline to the endzone. It's normally the case that one call shouldn't alter the outcome of a game, but the penalty called on this play nearly did. As Stanfield crossed the 30, defender Josiah Richardson got within 2 yards before he was blocked by Mendoza. The line judge following the play about 15 yards behind threw a flag and called a personal foul. It was later determined that the call was for "unnecessary blocking" by Mendoza. On review of the game film it was a completely clean play. Mendoza's block on Richardson was textbook and a good play by him as Richardson was the nearest defender to the ball carrier. For the sake of public decorum the official's call would best be described as dubious. If the play had stood, the score would have been 21-0. The wind was taken completely out of Chiawana's sails. The frustration was palpable as their one weapon was proving sputtering against the Bomber defense. Up to that point in the game the defense had battered Chiawana's offense relentlessly, and the offense had done the same, rendering the vaunted defensive line and widely-feared Weber ineffective. With the play called back to the 25 and the score still 14-0, it all changed.
[As a side note, former all-state Bomber Chad Mitchell reports the play would have broken his 93 yard reception record]
With the Riverhawks encouraged by thier good fortune, they forced a punt after three more plays, getting the ball back at the 45. Trading punts again, Vargas finally broke a big run, taking it from his own 15 to the Richland 30. It took four more plays for him to finally reach the endzone to make it 14-7 with the third quarter winding down. Chiawana gathered up a fumble on a Stevens keeper to get the ball back, and then used a long pass and a short run to get to the 1, where the quarterback dove in to bring the score even in the fourth quarter.
Two possessions later the Bombers found themselves pinned on their own 5 by a punt. With minutes to go in the game they had 95 yards ahead of them. Switching things up, they used passes to Mendoza and Adam Weissenfels to advance to the 35. From there, Stevens exploited the weakness in the Chiawana secondary when he saw Mendoza stutter step Richardson and blow by him. Mendoza caught the ball at the 25 and was brought down near the 10. Three plays later McCary took it in from 9 yards out, smashing one defender and spinning over another for the winning score. 21-14 with less than a minute left, and Chiawana had no choice but to go to their outmatched passing game. Weissenfels intercepted the last ditch attempt and the game was over.
For the majority of the game, the underrated Richland lines pummeled the opposition, all but shutting down a very good runner and rendering useless a celebrated linebacker. The defensive line—Whitby, Jax Lee, Dantae Powell, Braden Powell, and Kyle Kirby—kept the Chiawana O line in disarray and hit them like they haven't been hit this season, and the O line—Whitby, Davison, Noah Sprenkle, Colton Michaels, Dantae Powell, Cody Clements, and tight end Jacob Stanfield—blocked the daylights out of the Riverhawks, allowing the Richland backs to keep Mendoza in single coverage. One of the MCCs leading receivers, Alex Chapman, attracting double-teams most of the game, was held to one reception, also helping keep defenders away from the runners and the other receivers. McCary ended with 22 carries for 68 yards, Stanfield 12 for 73, 9 of those going for 65 yards in the first half, plus 37 yards receiving. Mendoza had 8 catches for 107 yards while preventing Richardson from catching any passes. While there was never any doubt in their own minds, the Bombers made this a statement game, beating a top ten team convincingly for the second time this season and earning their second straight MCC championship. The strength of this team lies not only in the talent and skill of the players but also in their ability to win in different ways. Shutting down one player only results in another player picking up the slack and making things happen.
Hopefully the playoffs don't loom so large that the next game, against newcomers to 4A Hanford at Fran Rish, gets overlooked. Hanford has speed and an offense that can score points at any time. It's a good setup for a cross-town rivalry, so come out and see what happens next Friday at 7.
2016 Game 7: Richland 64, Walla Walla 14
||Walla Walla Blue Devils
October 14, 2016
The 77th edition of the longstanding rivalry between Walla Walla High School and Richland High featured new high points for the series. Richland's 64 points is the most scored by either team since they began playing each other in 1945, and the 78 combined points is the highest total. Head coach Mike Neidhold is now 7-2 against the Blue Devils, the best winning percentage of any head coach in Richland history. The series now stands at 29-46-2 in favor of Walla Walla. Oddly enough, it looked at the beginning of the game like the undefeated Bombers might earn their first loss of the season.
The first play from scrimmage saw the Bombers take to the air. Paxton Stevens' short pass to Alex Chapman was good, but the Blue Devil defensive back stripped the ball out of Chapman's hands and a linebacker snatched it from the air, returning it to the 1 yard line. After being pounded for a loss on consecutive running plays and an incompletion, the Blue Devils' main offensive weapon, quarterback Mitch Lesmeister, escaped the Bomber D and scored a touchdown. Richland was undaunted, going to Chapman again on the first play after kickoff, and then using Parker McCary to get downfield. At 33 yards out, Stevens spotted Kody Kjarmo betwen two defenders and threw a bullet right into his hands. Kjarmo broke out of an arm tackle, dodged another defender, and sprinted into the endzone to tie the game. The Bomber D had a handle on Walla Walla's passing game and the running backs, but Lesmeister presented a problem, as he continued to slip his way around the defense, eventually finding his way to the endzone around the right end of his line, going up 14-7 with 6:33 left in the quarter. McCary and Ben Stanfield marched the Bombers back down the field, easily gaining consecutive first downs in a rarely seen two back set series, and then receiver Adam Weisenfells grabbed a low pass at the 15, plowed over the safety at the goal line, and evened the score at 14 with two minutes to go. At this point the crowd was prepared for a barrage of points, and they would get it, just not from both teams. Lesmeister's two runs would be the last points for Walla Walla. Two plays into Walla Walla's next drive Victor Strasser got some air to pick off a pass and rumbled 40 yards to the endzone. Although the corner pylon was knocked over, he was ruled down at the one, and McCary and lead blocker Stanfield both went untouched into the endzone to get the lead for good.
The second quarter saw a new defensive attitude from the Bombers, apparently offended by Lesmeiters' insistence on making plays. The rest of the game was mostly three and outs with very few bright spots. Their offense would total only 109 yards for the game. Richland's next offensive series got down the field with big passing plays to Josh Mendoza, Weisenfells—who showed willpower and toughness after the catch on this drive and for the entire game—and Gaven Brasker, who was eventually tossed out of bounds at the 1 after a 17 yard gain. McCary again followed Stanfield through a dominant line into the endzone for his second touchdown. The following extra point kick was abandoned after a low snap, but holder Ryan Kriskovich was able to scramble right and get the ball off just as he was hit by the defense. Braden Powell was open in the back corner for two more points. 29-14. After another defensive stop and the running backs carrying the ball down the field, Stevens found Weisenfells open at the 25. Immediately juking two defenders and getting a great block from Mendoza, he went down the sideline, cut inside to dodge a defender, cut back outside to dodge a couple more at the 5, and scored the second of his four touchdowns to make it 36-14 with 1:46 left in the half.
After five plays of punishment from the Richland defense, the Blue Devils punted to Brasker, who returned it 15 yards to the 35. McCary got the ball on the next play and went 65 yards for his third score. With 9:44 left in the third quarter, the game was already a blowout at 43-14. Walla Walla managed to hold the Bombers on fourth down at their own 20 yard line, and seemed eager to salvage some dignity, but after a few successful plays Weisenfells showed his face again, reading Lesmeister's intention and snatching a pass at the 40, taking it down the visitor's sideline, pausing only to let Strasser level the quarterback to clear the last 10 yards into the endzone. Weisenfells' kick was good, making it 50-14 with 4:15 left in the third quarter. Two minutes later Stevens found Weisenfells again, this time on a slant through the middle, where he burned his defender and spun the safety around for a 77 yard touchdown. 57-14.
Up 43 points in the fourth quarter, Richland brought in the reserves. Quarterback Cade Jensen completed passes to Kjarmo and Kriskovich, who also had a near interception and a batted pass on defense, and Tyler Fishback helped run down the clock by running the ball. Fishback eventually found his way into the endzone from ten yards out to close the scoring at 64-14 with four minutes left.
Although this was the first game in which Chapman and Stanfield didn't score, the Bombers showed their offensive diversity and their ability to use multiple weapons to score points. Defensively, Kyle Kirby and Brigham Whitby made big plays and maintained a bruising level of intensity throughout the game, and both lines were simply dominant throughout.
Next week's conference championship game against the undefeated Chiawana Riverhawks will test that dominance, and it should be a playoff atmosphere at Edgar Brown stadium. Get there early, kickoff at 7PM.
2016 Game 6: Richland 21, Kamiakin 20 OT
October 7, 2016
This year's seniors were just freshmen in 2013 when Richland and Kamiakin played the epic barn burner, featuring four overtime periods and over 100 points combined. The 2016 game was also an overtime thriller, but with fewer barns burned. Bombers vs Braves never disappoints.
The first half included zero points from either team, which normally indicates a defensive slugfest, but in this case it was more like two big-play offenses sputtering at the wrong times. The Kamiakin defense plays a 3-4, which is three down linemen and four linebackers—a perfect opportunity to run the ball behind the very large offensive line, especially since Kamiakin's linebacker are undersized. This seemed to be Richland's game plan in the first half, but being a pass first team they abandoned the run near the end zone for the comfort of familiarity, and unfortunately the better than average Brave defensive backs weren't interested in becoming victims of big plays. That's not to say there weren't any highlights. After a punt on Richland's first possession, William Harshaw-McDonald grabbed a diving interception off a pass tipped by Brigham Whitby on Kamiakin's third play. After marching the ball down the field using the running game, an incomplete pass and a penalty snuffed out the momentum and the Braves came up with a stop on fourth down on their own 12. The Bomber D continued to play tough, forcing punts and allowing only a few first downs, and the offense continued to run the ball well, only to be interrupted by incomplete passes. Running backs Parker McCary and Ben Stanfield ran well behind the line, which thoroughly dominated the Kamiakin front seven, but timing is everything, and Richland couldn't put points on the board despite running the ball easily from red zone to red zone. First half highlights also included an interception by Alex Chapman, who picked it at the 5 and returned it 40 yards to midfield.
The second half was more of the same until 5:46 left in the quarter, when, after runs of 16, 14, and 21 yards by McCary, quarterback Paxton Stevens used his run option and beat the defense 17 yards to the endzone. It felt like the game might stay at 7-0, but it only took two minutes for Kamiakin to answer. Running for his life from linemen Jax Lee and Braden Powell, the QB, as he was falling down, tossed a high ball to the front of the end zone. It was playground fly-up at this point, and the 6'6" receiver brought it down to even the score. Two plays later Gaven Brasker caught a Stevens pass and took it to midfield for a 36 yard gain, and two plays after that Stanfield caught a bubble pass behind the line and saw daylight from the 45. Racing down the sideline untouched, he sidestepped one defender at the 15 and carried another on his back into the endzone to regain the lead. A huge sack by Lee, Powell, and Victor Strasser, and an interception by Adam Weisenfells kept Kamiakin from evening the score, but the Braves returned the favor two plays later, intercepting a pass and returning it to the Richland 15.
This is a good time to take a break from yards and numbers and mention intangibles. This Bomber team, when struggling with an offensive set or faced with an inopportune turnover, doesn't panic or self-destruct. They keep playing their game, make adjustments where they're needed, make something happen.
With Kamiakin 15 yards from scoring and about seven minutes left in the game, Strasser chased the quarterback down and spun him around as he tried to run around the left end, Weisenfells popped the ball out with a hit, and the ball was recovered by Garrett Guffey at the 20. Of course, this is Bombers vs Braves, so the action wasn't even close to over. After taking a big loss on a sack, and not able to use the passing game to get out danger, the Bombers opted to punt. The snap was low, the punter recovered it but had to scramble and was tackled at the 8. It took four plays for the Braves to score and bring the game to a tie with 5:42 to go. This was nearly a game changing moment as Weisenfells barely missed blocking the PAT from the right edge. Sticking with what had worked so far, Richland kept it on the ground. Stanfield, listed at 175 pounds, ran like he was 50 pounds heavier, gashing his way through the defense and knocking the linebackers back as they tackled him. Running the ball, along with a 14 yard completion to Josh Mendoza got them to the 11, but the Kamiakin D stiffened, and with only 50 seconds left a field goal was the call. Weisenfells' kick went wide to force the game into overtime.
Overtime was a simple affair. Two rushes and a 23 yard lob to a wide open Alex Chapman, who burned his man, Darreon Moore, straight down the field and then made a hard cut to the right to make the catch and run in for the score. This particular play showed what a good running game can mean for a team. Lined up across from Chapman, Moore paused briefly to protect against the run, which gave Chapman the advantage and the space he needed to shake his defender loose and make the catch. It took Kamiakin another four plays to find Moore on a slant in the endzone to make it 21-20, with the extra needed to tie the game. Weisenfells, who was scored on for the tying touchdown earlier in the game, improved on his previous attempt at blocking the kick by getting a full hand on the ball, sending it slightly skyward, only to drop at weakly at the endzone line. Weisenfells didn't even need to look for the ball as rolled out of his dive with his hands raised triumphantly.
In a game like this there are several seemingly small plays that make a big difference in the final outcome. A few of them in this game were big hits in the secondary by Chapman, Mendoza, and Weisenfells that caused dropped passes, tough play at multiple D line spots from Brigham Whitby, and more good linebacking, by Strasser especially, and ferocious running by Stanfield and McCary(McCary had 118 yards, Stanfield had 102 plus 75 yards on bubble passes, the first time both have gone over 100 yards in a game) and, as always, tough line play throughout the game. Despite giving up 9 or 10 inches in height to the receiver he was covering, Weisenfells made a play that prevented a score in the third quarter. On a long pass, the receiver put his hands on the ball and would have come down with it in the endzone if not for Weisenfells diving up and back to punch the ball out. Close games are won with small details on big plays, and this game was a good example of that.
The undefeated Bombers face the 3-3 Walla Walla Blue Devils at Fran Rish Stadium this Friday at 7.
2016 Game 5, Richland 47, Pasco 0
September 30, 2016
The outcome of the game between the Pasco Bulldogs and the Richland Bombers was never really in doubt, but even the biggest underdogs have a chance. That's why they play the game. After taking the opening kickoff, it only took two plays for the Bombers to show who the underdog was. After getting to midfield on a pass to Adam Weisenfells, Paxton Stevens tossed a bomb to Alex Chapman streaking once again down the right sideline, who caught it and continued his run right into the endzone with only 43 seconds gone.
The next Richland score came only three minutes later when Stevens chose to keep some of the fun for himself and took it in from the right hash mark to the left corner of the endzone for 15 yards and a touchdown. Having missed the previous point after, Richland went for two and got it easily, with Ben Stanfield running it in around the left end, making it 14-0.
After another three-and-out by Pasco, the Bombers made it easily into Bulldog territory again, the biggest play coming on a 22 yard keeper by Stevens, but struggled at the goal line. The Bulldogs held tough on fourth and goal, preventing Ben Stanfield from putting up Richland's third touchdown. This put Pasco in a difficult situation, needing to take the ball 99 yards against a superior defense. It quickly turned into another three-and-out, and they punted from the endzone. Gaven Brasker fielded a skittish ball at the 45 and took it back to the 30, where Stevens threw to a new target, Garrett Guffey out of the tight end spot. Guffey's 20 yard catch and rumble gave the Bombers good field position for Josh Mendoza to run a quick slant into the endzone from the left, catching the ball easily and bringing the score to 21-0 with 22 seconds left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs saw a glimmer of hope on their next possesion when 240 pound running back Deondre Hendrix found himself in the open field after breaking loose at the line but was brought down by William Harshaw-McDonald after an eleven yard gain to end the quarter.
Guffey made a defensive appearance on the next series, diving in front of a pass and batting it away from the receiver. The Bulldogs still wanted to make a game of it, coming out in a punt formation but attempting to pass. Charles Ford got a hand on the pass, popping it high into the air, where a Bulldog snagged it and tried to run but was tackled by Victor Strasser for a 5 yard loss. Great catches by Ryan Piper and Weisenfells got Richland close to the endzone quickly, but Weisenfells fumbled at the 8.
Pasco's inevitable punt four plays later only made it to the 30. A 14 yard pass to Cody Kjarmo brought the ball back to the 9, which made it easy for Parker McCary to spin left out of the mob and cruise untouched to another touchdown. With 5 minutes left in the half it was 28-0. Two plays after kickoff, Piper dove for an interception at mid-field, and then grabbed a 24 yard pass on the next play. A series of penalties and incomplete passes only delayed what everyone knew was coming. Taking a short bubble pass five yards behind the line, Ben Stanfield wound his way 15 yards for Richland's fifth score of the half, aided by solid downfield blocks by receivers Chapman and Piper. A pass interference penalty helped Pasco keep their drive alive but were eventually forced to punt again. Piper took the bouncing punt at the Richland 40 and rambled an entertaining 35 yards, but with limited time Richland couldn't score again. The half ended 35-0.
On the third play after kickoff, Josh Mendoza drew a bead on the Bulldog quarterback's pass and stepped in front of it at the 20 yard line. With no one in front of him, it was a straight sprint to the endzone for his second score of the night, making it 41-0. With the game clock running with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, the rest of the game breezed by. Richland took the opportunity to rotate the starters in and out and burned time by keeping the ball on the ground. Strasser had some good runs, at one point smashing his way to the 2 yard line, but penalties pushed the Bombers back. Pasco also chose to stay with the ground game, which saw slightly more success against the Richland reserves, but also quickly ran the clock down. Richland's last score came on a short pass to Weisenfells, who ran 10 yards untouched to go up 47-0 with 1:54 remaining.
Pasco kept it relatively respectable, gaining just over a total of 100 yards against a strong defense, and Richland kept the ball in the air, scoring 5 of 6 offensive touchdowns with passes. Stevens had 243 passing yards and a surprising 39 on the ground. Richland's runners, including Stevens, totaled 127 yards on only 22 carries. It must be difficult for a winless, struggling team to get up for a game like this, so the Bulldogs deserve respect for coming out and making an effort.
The Bombers head to Lampson Stadium once again to face of against the much-hyped Kamiakin Braves. Regardless of hype, Richland vs Kamiakin is always an intense game and is never a game Bomber fans want to miss. Get there early for good seats because it's sure to be packed.
2016 Game 4: Richland 26, Southridge 10
September 23, 2016
First half struggles continued for the Richland Bombers against the Southridge Suns, falling behind for the first time since the opening game against Skyline, but they toughed out a 26-10 win to remain undefeated. The Bombers failed to produce offensively, and for the second straight week went three-and-out on the first series. The short punt took a Southridge bounce and was fielded by a Southridge blocker who found himself with space and only two men to beat, Richland's coverage having already sped past the ball. Fortunately Jacob Stanfield dragged him down easily near the 45 yard line. Taking five plays to reach the 25, they kicked a field goal to put Richland behind by three, where they stayed all quarter. Despite not being able to score on a surprisingly tough Suns defense, there were a few highlight plays. Running back Ben Stanfield started off well, taking his first handoff for eleven yards, and escaping a tackler in the backfield and then using a spin move to gain five yards the next play. Alex Chapman caught the next pass in traffic, twisted out of a tackle, and dodged several defenders to gain 27 yards and a first down. On the next possession Ryan Piper muscled his way through a mob of tacklers for an extra ten yards after the catch, putting the ball at the 25 to end the quarter. Three plays into the second quarter Chapman suckered the secondary to get open, caught the ball at the 45, and took it the rest of the way to make the game 7-3 with 11 minutes to go in the half. More penalties and missed defensive assignments kept the Suns offense on the field but weren't a threat to score thanks to strong play by defensive ends Jacob Stanfield and Braden Powell, tackle Brigham Whitby, and linebacker Victor Strasser. Good special teams play kept the Suns on their own side of the field, with Ben Stanfield and sophomore Ryan Kriskovich preventing a punt return by tackling the return man as soon as he caught the ball. Chapman proved his worth on defense as well as offense, teaming up with Kyle Kirby to make a big stop for a loss on a pitch to the Southridge running back. The defense started stepping up the intensity with two minutes to go in the half when Jacob Stanfield shed his blocker and sacked Mason Martin at his own 15 for a ten yard loss. Two plays later defensive tackle Jax Lee went through nearly untouched, made a bee-line for Martin, grabbing him at the three yard line and tossing him into the endzone, although the ball was spotted at the five, forcing Southridge to punt from the endzone. A great catch-and-run by Chapman, a catch by Josh Mendoza aided by blocks from Whitby and sophomore lineman Aric Davison, and the Bombers were on the five yard line with 45 seconds left in the half. Piper was inexplicably wide open on a short slant to the inside, easily catching a pass from Stevens to go up 13-3.
The second half saw Southridge marching down the field with big runs against a defense resting key starters, eventually making it within ten yards of the endzone before the Bomber D decided to crack down. Aside from defensive stops, the third quarter had no points from the offense and very few bright spots. Running Back Parker McCary had a big run and a huge bomb to Gaven Brasker was called back on an ineligible receiver penalty. There wasn't much more than that. The fourth quarter came with increased intensity, probably due to the constant chipping and post-whistle shoving going on. Chapman caught his second touchdown and went over 100 yards receiving with a 30 yard catch in the back of the north endzone, barely scraping his toes on the grass as he caught the ball over his head. The extra point made it 20-3 with most of the fourth quarter remaining. Despite struggling in the air and having good success on the ground, Richland continued to pass instead of running the ball. The defense held their ground, defending against a tricky offense with very few weapons. Although Southridge only passes on about one third of their plays, and most of those being short passes at the line of scrimmage, the Richland secondary didn't go to sleep. Piper had a big play on fouth-and-one, sticking with his man and jumping up behind the receiver to bat the ball out of his hands. Whitby, Strasser, and McCary had big tackles in the fourth quarter, stopping runs that could have gone for far more. Strasser in particular proved his worth at linebacker in this game. Ben Stanfield, set up by big passes to Weisenfells, Kirby, and Kriskovich, scored the only touchdown on the ground, taking the option pitch on the left side, practically jogging into the endzone for Richland's final score. With the score 26-3, Southridge had little to no chance of coming back, but that didn't keep them from trying. Taking a short kickoff from Weisenfells, Brycen Kelly attempted a return but was leveled by Ben Stanfield and Kyle Kirby. Continuing to rest some starters, the Bomber D allowed the Suns to take the ball down the field, nearly stopping them at the 40 but taken in by a halfback pass to the 10. Martin ran it in from there to bring the score to 26-10 with 44 seconds remaining.
Southridge was the most physical team faced so far, matching Richland's intensity and taking their best shot at a win. Junior quarterback Mason Martin showed his toughness, and he will be dangerous next year as well. Richland's lowest scoring game came at the expense of the running game, Stanfield getting ten carries for 50 yards, McCary eight carries for 28, and Stevens scrambling six times for 21. With a massive O line and good runners it would be relatively easy for the Bombers to run up the score and get themselves a comfortable lead, but the coaches decided to air it out and work out kinks in the offense before playoff-relevant games.
Next up are the winless Pasco Bulldogs. Pasco hasn't put up a win against Richland since 2009, and although they are struggling so far this year, they always have some talent. The game starts at 7:00 at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
2016 Game 3: Richland 40, Kennewick 0
September 16, 2016
Being ranked number one is probably more of a curse than an honor, especially early in the season. Not only is every team looking to take down the top dog, but the adults in charge of the game tend to make sure number one doesn't take their high ranking to mean they can get away with anything. This seems to be a challenge the Richland Bombers are willing to take on, overcoming first half penalty struggles again this week to beat the Kennewick Lions 40-0 in front of a visiting crowd that outnumbered the home crowd.
After struggling last week, the receiving corps cleaned up its act and got their catches in early. After a surprisingly quick punt to end the first offensive series, the Bombers got it going with big catches from Josh Mendoza, Alex Chapman, and sophomore Ryan Kriskovich, culminating in an 11 yard touchdown catch by Mendoza. Richland's relentless defense kept Kennewick frustrated and gave the offense plenty of opportunities to score, although the Lions weren't rolling over so easily. Though clearly overmatched, they played tough and kept the score respectable during the first half. The only one other touchdown coming when running back Ben Stanfield took a pitch from quarterback Paxton Stevens on the left side and showed he was the fastest guy on the field, zipping down the home sideline past three defenders, cutting inside at the 15 to dodge two more, and then plowing the last defender into the endzone to make it a 12 point lead.
Offensively, the Bombers struggled a bit, but the defensive effort was epitomized by one first quarter play. Thwarted by tight coverage in the secondary, the Kennewick quarterback was flushed by the defensive line and rolled out to his right looking for his third receiver. That option was covered by William Harshaw-McDonald, allowing Braden Powell's hot pursuit to pay off with a sack for an eleven yard loss. That was the story of the night for Kennewick —nowhere to go, no options, and no gain.
The second half saw the Bombers electrified, with big plays coming from special teams and the defense. Unfortunately, some of the most exciting plays were called back on penalties, including kick returns by Gaven Brasker and an interception by Adam Weissenfels. These were compensated for by an interception by Chapman, an interception returned for a touchdown by Weissenfels (Weissenfels stepped in front of a pass at the 40 and raced 60 yards, juking the Kennewick QB at the 20) , two touchdowns on the ground from Parker McCary from 21 and 4 yards out, and a 33 yard catch by Chapman to seal the win at 40 points.
The Bomber D got its first shutout, holding the Lions to 48 yards total offense, allowing only one play over ten yards. The offensive and defensive lines proved dominant once again, blasting holes for the backs on offense and flushing the quarterback out of the pocket on defense. For the third straight week the Bombers have scored on the ground and in the air and have multiple players who have scored in each game.
Next week the Southridge Suns come to Fran Rish for Richland's homecoming game. The Suns are athletic and confident at 2-1, sporting a new coach and a revamped offense. Come see some old friends and cheer on the Bombers as they try to remain undefeated this Friday.
Game 2: Richland 40, Wenatchee 12
September 9, 2016
Despite knocking off a top-ranked West side team in week one, grabbing the top ranking, and thoroughly dominating a former Big Nine opponent, the Richland Bombers are not yet playing like a well-oiled machine. Week two against Wenatchee, in Wenatchee, showed there is plenty of room for improvement.
The Wenatchee Panthers put up a fight, despite being overmatched, but the 40-12 final score was not entirely indicative of the disparity between these teams. From the opening kickoff, which was an unexpected on-side kick to Richland, the Panthers showed they weren't rolling over, but their recovery was negated almost immediately by Richland's fearsome front four, as linebacker Victor Strasser pummeled the quarterback and defensive tackle Jax Lee retrieved the ball. From there the Bombers appeared to be ready to air things out, going for the dagger on a long pass from Paxton Stevens to a streaking Alex Chapman, but the ball bounced out of his hands. The first drive could be seen as a foreshadowing of the rest of the game—a dominant offense sparked by a tough defense, met with frustration but ultimately succeeding. Keeping the first drive alive with the running game, the Bombers eventually put Parker McCary into the endzone for a 6-0 lead. The rest of the first quarter and much of the second was dominated not by either of the teams but by an unprecedented series of holding calls against Richland, resulting in several big runs by Ben Stanfield being called back, totaling forty plus yards. While the defense kept the Panther offense from any significant advances, the offense continued to try to find their footing, throwing several more incomplete passes and an interception, but eventually used McCary and Stanfield as tag team runners, keeping it on the ground to complete a 60 yard drive with Stanfield smashing up the middle to go up two touchdowns, and then Stanfield sweeping to the right for a two point conversion to make it 14-0. The Bombers spent the rest of the half trying to get the passing game on track, struggling to reel the ball in on good passes, but eventually finding Chapman cutting left from the middle of the field for a 30 yard catch and score. The 21-0 halftime score could have and should have been much worse for Wenatchee, having no answer to the ferocious defense thrown at them by the Bombers.
The second half was more of the same, with some bright spots for the Panthers. Highlights included and acrobatic catch by Wenatchee receiver Otoniel Esquivel, who caught the ball over Chapman's head, side-stepped McCary, broke an attempted tackle by William Harshaw-McDonald, and then barely beat Strasser into the endzone. Refusing to let any wind be taken out of their sails, Richland's line crushed through and Dantae Powell easily slapped the kick to the ground. The following kickoff was taken 60 yards back for a touchdown by Gaven Brasker. More touchdowns were scored by tight end/defensive end Braden Powell and running back Jared Whitby to put the game far out of reach. Interceptions by Josh Mendoza and Alex Chapman stifled more drives, and the Wenatchee quarterback was continually terrorized by interior linemen Brigham Whitby and Jax Lee. The Panthers attempted to salvage some pride by scoring on a catch in the right corner of the endzone, but it was too little too late, and the game stood at 40-12.
The Bombers played another physical game, playing a fast and tough defense that any team would find hard to handle. Opposite of the Skyline game, the running game provided points while the passing game struggled. If the offense had been firing on all cylinders, Richland could have put up 70 or 80 points using the multiple weapons at their disposal. All cylinders will be needed next week as the Bombers play Kennewick at Lampson stadium. Despite beating Richland only once since 1994, Kennewick always plays tough and is never a gimme game. There were nearly as many Bomber fans in Wenatchee as there were Panther fans, so a vocal green crowd should be expected for a great game next week.
Game 1: Richland 38, Skyline 27
The 2015 season ended with Richland High in third place and Skyline High School in second, both defeated by a loaded Gonzaga Prep championship team. Both teams lost plenty of important starters. Both teams were ranked in the top 5 in multiple pre-season rankings. The game itself didn't disappoint.
The opening kickoff ended in a collision between senior returner Ben Stanfield and a Skyline cover man to end a twenty yard return. The Skyline player did not return to the game. The Bombers struggled on offense, giving QB Paxton Stevens plenty of time to throw but dropping passes and failure to advance with the running game left them empty handed. A punt gave the Spartans the ball, and they used the opportunity to score with their effective passing game, which kept the Bomber D honest enough for Skyline to use their running back to take it in for a nine yard touchdown. The first half demonstrated why Skyline has been either the champion or the runner-up in ten of the twenty tears since the school opened. They played smoothly and executed well. It's obviously a well coached and well run program. Although it's resulted in fewer championships, Richland has a tradition of its own (apparently that tradition now includes unsportsmanlike penalties early in the game). Continuing to stifle the running game, Skyline was taken by surprise on a 44 yard bomb from Stevens to three year starter Alex Chapman to keep the drive going. Two plays later, junior Josh Mendoza reeled in a pass over the top of two defenders for a 31 yard touchdown, bringing back memories (for those fortunate to have witnessed it) of the Brian Edwards-lead mayhem of the early 90s. No matter what's going wrong, a miracle is always around the corner. The ensuing drives saw the Richland defense stiffen up, with the line keeping pressure on the quarterback and the linebackers filling the gaps. Their hard work couldn't prevent another Skyline touchdown, an 83 yard catch-and-run to go up 14-7 with 3:47 to go in the half. Being down 7 at half isn't a bad position to be in against a top-ranked team, but the Bombers weren't satisfied. Despite an interception, the D forced a turnover on downs, and the next play was Stevens to Chapman for a 76 yard TD.
While big plays kept Richland in it, the second half was a different story. The defense, shaking off some of the rust that had accumulated during the offseason, started to get physical. Skyline fumbled on third down, and it took three plays for Chapman to chalk up another TD catch from 36 yards out. 21-14, RHS. Skyline was still in the game, and began taking the ball down the field like they did in the first half, but were cut short when junior safety Ryan Piper intercepted a pass. This is when Skyline started to fall apart.
Richland kicked a field goal and junior LB Victor Strasser ended another short SHS drive with an interception, nearly returning it for a touchdown. It took one play for Parker McCary to follow his blockers into the endzone to make it 31-14. The kickoff was returned for short yardage by Skyline's starting running back, who he was injured on the play and wouldn't play again. Another fumble gave Richland the ball, and they capitalized when Ben Stanfield saw daylight on the left side of the line, escaped a diving grab by one defender, and sprinted untouched 55 yards to the endzone. 38-14.
Skyline played like a defeated team from then on, eventually scoring two more touchdowns while the Bomber starters rested. The starters that stayed in the game did their best to prevent it, coming up with two more interceptions by Chapman and returning starter William Harshaw-McDonald. The final score, 38-27, looks closer than it was, with the second half going to a decisively dominant Bomber squad. Notable was the physical aspect of Richland's game, which Skyline didn't appear ready to handle.
A lot of credit has to go to the Spartan lineman, offense and defense, for battling tough against what looks to be a great crew of lineman from Richland. They stifled the Bomber run game in the first half and kept their quarterbacks relatively safe on the other side.
A key to the game was the difference in defensive intensity from the first half to the second half, which was obvious. The Richland line—Brigham Whitby, Jax Lee, Braden Powell, and Jacob Stanfield—stayed strong through the whole game, and a strong crew of linebackers—Strasser, McCary, Garret Guffey, and Isaac Lovato—proved they could fill the large hole left by the graduation of the MCC's best LBs last year. The secondary brushed up on their assignments and prevented big plays. There isn't a lot of glory in this part of the game, and these positions rarely get mentioned, but the heart and grit of RHS football starts here. It should be a great season.
Richland doesn't get to rest, though, because next Friday the Bombers travel to the Apple Bowl in Wenatchee to take on the Panthers. Wenatchee is coming off a week one loss to the Southridge Suns so it should be another great game between the MCC and the Big Nine.
Tri-City Herald: Bomber soar past Skyline
Tri-City Herald Prep Football Preview
The Tri-City Herald has been breaking down all of the local teams in preparation for the 2016 MCC season and today was Richland's turn.
Nice article by Dustin Brennan.
Tri-City Herald: Bombers eye another run
The season starts off tomorrow night at 7:00pm at Fran Rish Stadium with the Bombers taking on the Skyline Spartans. This should be a great game so please consider coming out and supporting the Richland Bombers.
Bombers No. 5 in Preseason Rankings
The Seattle Times has release their 2016 preseason power rankings and the Richland Bombers are ranked number five in the state.
The Bombers will be tested immediately when the second ranked Skyline Spartans come to Richland on September 2nd at 7:00pm.
Check out the rankings and see what you think.
Preseason top-10 rankings for 3A, 4A Washington state high school football
2016 Fall Practice Schedule
The 2015 Fall Practice Schedule has been released by Coach Mike Neidhold.
Download the Fall Practice Schedule
Most important: Thursday, August 11, 2016 is the Fall Sports Clearance night in the Richland High School cafeteria at 6:00PM.
First practice is on Wednesday, August 17th at 9:00AM.
First game is on Friday, September 2nd against perennial state power Skyline Spartans at Fran Rish Stadium at 7:00PM.