Decatur falls short of football playoffs


Associate editor

For the first half Thursday night against Puyallup, the Decatur football team looked like it might actually pull off the unthinkable. The Gators needed to beat the favored Vikings by at least 11 points to earn a berth in the playoffs. The Gators were up 21-17 at halftime.

But Decatur football fans will have to wait at least one more year to try to make the playoffs for the first time in school history.

Puyallup scored 28 unanswered second-half points and coasted to a 45-21 victory in the rain at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

“It’s not quite what we wanted, but we reached a couple of our goals this year,” Decatur junior quarterback Darin Harris said. “We had a winning season.”

At 5-3, Decatur finished fourth in the South Puget Sound League, South Division. The top three teams make the playoffs. It’s the best season the team has had since it was 7-2 in 1983. Its only losses this year came against the three teams who are going to the playoffs and each of those games was within reach at one point or another.

“One game doesn’t make a season,” Decatur coach Rik Haines said. “We lost to a good football team. It’s hard to win when you have as many turnovers as we did. But this was a great year for Decatur football. The kids should feel good about how they played.”

Decatur gave up four fumbles and one interception that helped Puyallup win the field position battle. In the second half Decatur started at, on average, its own 16 yard line. Puyallup started, on average, at the Decatur 43.

In the first half Puyallup quickly went up 7-0, but Decatur junior running back Kyle Bressler responded on the next play by busting up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run.

Decatur took the lead shortly after. Junior defensive back Nick Isaac picked off Puyallup quarterback Rob Iverson. One play later, Decatur junior Tracy Ford took a pitch to the outside and outran everybody to the end zone. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Decatur led 13-7 and had the momentum.

Puyallup took a 14-13 lead early in the second quarter, then took advantage of a Decatur fumble and tacked on a field goal to make it 17-13.

Decatur responded with an 80-yard drive, including senior tight end Nate Marotta’s great catch for 27 yards on third and nine, down to the Puyallup 23. Ford capped the drive with a 1-yard sprint to the corner of the end zone. Harris hit Marotta with a pass for the two-point conversion just before the end of the first half.

But that was all the scoring Decatur would get.

Harris finished with 117 yards on 16 carries. Bressler carried five times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Ford ran for 24 yards and two touchdowns. The good news for Decatur is that all three are only juniors and are expected to be back for their senior season.

“We’re going to come out shooting next year,” Harris said. “That’s all we can do.”

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