KENNEWICK – Like several teams before them, the Kamiakin Braves couldn’t solve Shadle Park’s fastbreak offense.
And once the Highlanders found their tempo in the second quarter, the Braves found themselves in a hole they couldn’t dig out of Saturday afternoon.
Shadle Park junior quarterback Brett Rypien eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark, throwing five touchdowns as the Highlanders handled Kamiakin 34-16 in a State 3A quarterfinal football game at Lampson Stadium.
The Highlanders (11-1) advance to the semifinals for the second time in school history. They’ll take on the five-time defending 3A champion Bellevue (12-0) next Saturday afternoon at Joe Albi Stadium.
As generally happens, an opposing defense can’t cover all of the Highlanders’ weapons. Saturday it was the tiniest athlete on the field who stood the tallest.
Shadle utility back Alvin Welch, all of 5-foot-6 and 150 pounds, caught two touchdowns passes, finishing with eight receptions for 136 yards.
“We’ve always known that he’s super dynamic and could go off at any time,” Shadle coach Alan Stanfield said. “He was the one they were choosing to leave one on one. It was obvious he could do good things when he touched the ball. The stuff he does after he catches the ball is really what’s special. It’s hard to get down and hard to get low enough to get a good hit on him.”
Welch said his eyes get as big as 50-cent pieces when he catches the ball in space.
“They weren’t going to account for me,” Welch said. “They didn’t play their base defense. We felt like we could exploit them with the short passes. Get me in space where I can do work; that’s where I like it.”
Welch’s first TD catch came at the end of Shadle’s first drive when he caught a 17-yard pass.
After Kamiakin took a brief 7-6 lead, Shadle struck again when Welch, on Shadle’s third play of the series, caught a 23-yard TD pass.
Kamiakin trapped Rypien in the end zone and he tried to throw the ball away and was called for grounding, resulting in a safety that pulled the Braves (8-3) within 12-9 with 8:32 to go before halftime.
That is where the game got away from Kamiakin. Shadle scored two more TDs to take a 27-9 lead into halftime.
The teams were scoreless in the third quarter. Shadle stretched the lead to 34-9 when Rypien hit a wide open Tanner Pauly on a 7-yard connection with 9:26 to go.
Rypien completed 20 of 29 passes for 323 yards, pushing his season total to 4,086.
“Last week the offense got some quick points and this week the defense had a couple of huge stops that changed the momentum,” Stanfield said. “They couldn’t play any better. They stopped the No. 1 rusher and passer in the (Mid-Columbia Conference). It was a toughness issue and our guys showed they can hang.”
Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin was impressed by the Highlanders.
“They had a good game plan and that’s a heckuva football team,” Biglin said. “They deserved to win. They outperformed us in every level of the game.”