RICHLAND – These things the Richland Bombers football team will forget in time – the broken plays and missed assignments that led to their season-ending 17-0 loss to Mead on Friday night at Fran Rish Stadium.
Something they won’t forget is seeing Cameron Simpson play his last high school football game.
Covered from head to toe in mud and grass stains after the game, the Bombers senior was stopped by Panthers’ coach Sean Carty to show his respect.
“I heard you had a broken leg. I wasn’t even sure you’d be playing,” Carty told Simpson as he shook his hand warmly on a cold fall night. The leg may in fact be broken, but even if it’s not, doctors might argue Simpson’s sanity for even taking one step onto the field.
Still, there he was, playing both ways at running back and linebacker, doing his best to get Richland back to state.
“I was pretty excited to be in there,” Simpson said after rushing for 33 yards on 11 carries and making five tackles. “I just wanted one more game at Fran Rish.”
But it’s Mead that will move on to state after breaking two big plays in the first half – a 44-yard touchdown pass from Gunnar Kayser to Darian Barlow and a 73-yard scoring run by Garrett Norris.
The Panthers (9-1) will play host to the Newport-Skyview winner Friday in the first round of the State 4A tournament.
“We wanted to show up and do what we do,” Norris said after running for 86 yards on just three carries. “They were playing in a 6-3 defense. We haven’t gone up against that before. But (I got) a great block that allowed me to break it.”
Richland made some noise early, taking the opening kickoff and driving 15 plays for a first-and-goal at the Mead 6-yard line. But the drive stalled, as the Bombers went four-and-out at the 4.
Mead came back the other way, getting a 24-yard run from Austin Stone to put it just past midfield. Then, on first-and-10 from the Bombers’ 44, Kayser scrambled away from defensive pressure and threw a strike to Barlow, who was streaking across the field.
Barlow calmly hauled in the pass at the Richland 20 and cruised in for the score to make it 7-0 .
The Bombers had their chances to score, moving across the 50 into Mead territory seven times. Richland had eight plays go for 10 yards or more – seven of them passing plays. But broken plays, miscommunication and several dropped passes conspired to keep Richland off the board.
Whitby finished 16 of 31 for 129 yards and an interception.
Garrett March and Gibson McGeorge each caught five passes for the Bombers.