Despite 13 penalties in the first half, resulting in 130 lost yards, the Yelm High School football team beat Timberline 38-20 on Friday, Sept. 17 at home.
Yelm Coach Jason Ronquillo said the team’s rocky performance in the first half wasn’t fully the fault of his players.
“The outcome was what we wanted, but it was a little bumpy,” Ronquillo said. “The process was a little bumpy. The first half was a little sloppy. I’ll take ownership of that. I think we could have done a better job coaching in the first half.”
One bright point in the first half came in the first quarter, when sophomore Brayden Platt achieved a pick-6, scoring on an interception.
“Brayden Platt was our workhorse on offense,” Ronquillo said. “He played well on defense. He was highly involved in the game and didn’t come out of the game very much.”
Once the team had a chance to assess its performance during half time, Ronquillo said the players improved in the final two quarters.
“When we came out in the second half, we came out and played a lot cleaner football,” he said. “And it showed, because (when) we came out and on defense, we caused them to have a three-and-out. They punted the ball to us and then we scored on the ensuing drive after that.”
But the Tornados weren’t finished.
“And then, when we kicked off the ball again, we caused a fumble and scored after that, so we were kind of back on pace, back to normal in the second half,” Ronquillo said. “We finished the game well. We just didn’t start fast.”
Ronquillo said he thought the Tornados ran the ball well, and that their energy was up, saying that individual players shined throughout the contest.
Junior Ray Wright was an example of that.
“He played lights-out on defense all over the field,” Ronquillo said.
Overall, Ronquillo said the game was a learning experience for everyone involved.
“Even though we won, I felt there were a lot of things we could learn from that game: Keep your composure, emphasize technique and be able to handle stress and adversity, especially when the time is needed,” he said. “I just think that we have a lot to learn and our expectations are super high, so we’ll see how this week goes.”
The Tornados are on the road this week for a league game against River Ridge High School at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 24.
“They have a great program,” Ronquillo said of River Ridge. “They’re incredibly well-coached. … They have a successful, established program. Teamwise, they have a lot of speed. A very fast team. A very physical team. They’re gonna come at us with everything that they’ve got, so it’ll be a good matchup.”
When asked if he thought the Tornados would win the contest, Ronquillo said the outcome would depend on the team’s preparation during the week.
“We are going to try to win between Monday and Thursday,” he said. “We’ll see how Friday goes.”
The Tornados are 3-0 overall and 1-0 in league play.