Puyallup final step in Decatur's playoff run


Sports editor

The Puyallup Vikings’ football program casts a huge shadow over the South Puget Sound League, as well as the state of Washington. The Vikings have been in the postseason 15 times since 1978.

So Friday’s game against the Decatur Gators is not that big of a deal on the Puyallup campus. It’s just another ho-hum season in Puyallup.

The opposite is true at Decatur. Friday’s 7 p.m. kickoff at Federal Way Memorial Stadium marks one of the better opportunities for the Gators to break its nearly 30-year football playoff drought — though it won’t be easy.

“How often do you get to the end of the season and have a chance to have something to play for?” said Decatur coach Bill Heglar. “Not very often.”

Decatur currently sits in a dead heat with Rogers for the third and final playoff berth. Both teams have identical 5-2 South records. Bethel sits atop the division at 7-0 and Puyallup is 6-1 in divisional play. Bethel has already won the South championship, leaving two spots for three teams. Rogers has the easiest test. The Rams host the 1-7 Emerald Ridge Jaguars Friday.

Assuming a Rogers win, the Gators have a tall task in front of them against the Vikings. Thanks to the SPSL’s tiebreaking system, Decatur is going to have to beat Puyallup by 14 points or more to make the playoffs, according to SPSL football commissioner Dave Lutes. Decatur, Rogers and Puyallup will have split the games between them, meaning a point differential system will have to be used against the fifth-place team in the SPSL South — Spanaway Lake. Decatur beat Spanaway Lake 49-14 in the second week of the season, Rogers downed the Sentinels 41-26 last week and Puyallup won 26-13 Sept. 19. Meaning Rogers would go as the No. 2 seed from the South (because of their win over Decatur) and the Gators would be the third seed with the higher margin of victory over Spanaway Lake.

Confused yet? There’s more.

If Rogers loses to Emerald Ridge Friday night, just a win over Puyallup would get the Gators in the playoffs. If both Rogers and Decatur lose, the Rams would advance because they beat the Gators.

On the field, the Puyallup-Decatur game should live up to the hype, according to Federal Way coach John Meagher. His Eagles have played both teams.

“Puyallup is a solid team,” he said. “They have great skilled players and are tough up front. It is going to be an interesting game, but if you were to ask me right now, based on their two performances, I think Decatur is going to beat them.”

Puyallup features a balanced offense, led by quarterback Johnny Spevak, tailback Mikai Borden and an athletic line. Spevak has thrown for only 755 during the season, but has eight touchdown passes, compared to only two interceptions. Borden is the Vikings’ leading rusher with 598 yards and their leading receiver with 219 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“I think (Spevak) runs their team real well,” Heglar said. “He plays within himself really well.”

“(Borden) is tough and fast,” said Meagher. “But he is a slasher. Their line is solid, but I was more impressed with Decatur up front more than Puyallup and I didn’t expect that. Puyallup didn’t beat us up front and Decatur did.”

Like they have all season long, the Gators’ offense will be relying on their wing-T running attack led by fullback Kyle Bressler (887 yards, 16 touchdowns) and tailback Rodney McCurry (556 yards, seven touchdowns).

“We’ll see how our kids respond,” Heglar said. “They are a pretty good football team.”

Gators blow by Auburn; Jefferson gets first win


Sports editor

It was a tale of two halves for the Decatur Gators Friday night. The Gators put together a lackluster opening 24 minutes against the Auburn Trojans in a non-league contest at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

But the Gators scored 34 straight points to erase a 7-0 halftime deficit and downed the Trojans 34-13. The win moves Decatur to 6-2 overall and sets up a huge game Friday night at home against the 7-1 Puyallup Vikings. The Gators need a win to make their first-ever postseason appearance.

“It is going to be fun Friday night,” coach Bill Heglar said.

Auburn (4-4) scored the only touchdown of the first half with 2:28 left in the first quarter, while Decatur’s offense could only muster four punts and a Darin Harris fumble during the first two quarters.

“That was not one of our better half’s,” Heglar said.

But the Gators looked like a different team when they came out after the 20-minute Homecoming halftime show — thanks, in large part, to the defensive play of Harris. The safety, who is headed to the University of Washington next season, had several big defensive hits to get his team fired up. The biggest of those was a sideline decleater of Auburn’s best player — K.C. Herren. The hit, which was called as a personal foul, kept Herren out for the second half.

“I think sometimes when you get a kid like Darin, who is a little more mature, it almost looks like it is unfair,” Heglar said.

Harris was also solid on the offensive side of the ball. Harris led five second-half touchdown drives to give the Gators the win. Senior fullback Kyle Bressler tallied three more touchdowns and 112 yards against Auburn. Bressler now sits with 887 yards and 16 touchdowns on the year — an average of 126 yards a game. Harris finished the two other drives with touchdown runs of 8 and 17 yards.

Jefferson 31, at Emerald Ridge 21

Friday night was good to the Thomas Jefferson football team. The Raiders picked up their first win of the season at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup over the Emerald Ridge Jaguars, 31-21.

The Raiders and senior Kyle Jenkins scored 21 points in the final eight minutes to overcome a 21-3 halftime deficit to the Jaguars. In total, Jenkins caught nine passes for 120 yards and one touchdown. Jenkins also had touchdown runs of 6 and 58 yards.

Senior quarterback James Partridge also had his second straight game of over 300 yards passing. Partridge finished 23-for-49 for 321 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Emerald Ridge (1-7) picked up all three of its touchdowns from Brynson Brown. The junior scored on an 86-yard kickoff return, a 75-yard interception return and an 8-yard touchdown catch.

Jefferson got on the scoreboard with a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter. The Raiders’ other touchdown came on a 36-yard pass from Partridge to senior Coury McGinnis.

The Raiders will play at Auburn Riverside Friday night in a non-league game. Auburn Riverside sits at 4-4 in the South Puget Sound League North.

at Puyallup 31, Federal Way 14

The Eagles hung tough with the 7-1 Vikings, but 17 unanswered points by Puyallup in the fourth quarter put the game away. The loss at Sparks Stadium Thursday drops the Eagles to 1-6 on the season.

The Eagles will play their final SPSL South game of the season Saturday at home against the Curtis Vikings.

Puyallup built up a 14-0 first half lead on a 12-yard pass from Johnny Spevak to Jake Kennedy and a 10-yard run by Makai Borden. The Eagles had plenty of opportunities to fold up its tent and go home at that point, but Federal Way fought back on a pair of C.J. Green touchdown runs to tie the game at 14-14 entering the fourth quarter.

“I was proud of our kids’ effort,” Meagher said. “They could have given up. They realized at half that we could play with these guys. But in the fourth quarter we had a few things slip away.”

Borden broke the tie with an 18-yard touchdown run. The Vikings added another touchdown and a field goal to finalize the score.

Green finished with 96 yards on 29 carries for Federal Way.

“We fed him a little more this game,” Meagher said. “He was getting a lot of 3 to 5 yard runs and I kind of like that.”

Mount Baker 56, at Beamer 7

The Titans were blown away by one of the better Class A football teams in the state Saturday, 56-7. The game was the first-ever Homecoming at the first-year school.

Mount Baker is 7-1 and ranked ninth in the Class A rankings this year and hail from Deming, Wash. The loss drops the Titans to 1-5.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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