The Tornados took on Mount Si High School on Friday, Sept. 10, defeating the Wildcats 41-20 in a non-league game.
Mount Si is the 4A team that was ranked first coming out of last spring’s COVID-19-affected season.
Yelm currently has a record of 2-0 overall, but has yet to play a league game.
“The kids are doing well,” said Yelm football coach Jason Ronquillo. “They’re a high-effort team. We have great athletes, and I can’t expect anything more. It’s just that we’ve got to clean up certain details. But, if they’re giving me effort, that’s all I can really ask for.”
Some of those details that need to be cleaned up occurred in the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Wildcats.
The first quarter started out with a Mount Si interception of a Yelm pass, but on the next play, Yelm’s Ray Wright, a junior, intercepted a Wildcat pass to regain possession.
Neither team got on the board until four minutes until the second quarter, when the Wildcats blocked a Tornado punt, resulting in Mount Si’s Andy Cole scoring a touchdown on a 30-yard return. The Wildcats scored the extra point and it was Yelm’s ball.
“We started a little shaky,” Ronquillo said. “Whether it was nerves, anxiety, the long bus ride, the atmosphere and all the things you can’t control, I don’t know. You know, sometimes you try to control everything and you just can’t. We had a punt blocked for a touchdown at the start of the game.”
The Tornados came back at about two minutes to go in the first quarter with a 12-yard rushing touchdown made by sophomore Brayden Platt, though the team failed on its two-point conversion attempt.
Undeterred, Yelm’s Kyler Ronquillo, a junior, scored a touchdown on a 75-yard punt return, which was followed by a successful two-point conversion, ending the first quarter with a score of 14-7 Yelm.
“I think when we got to about three to four minutes to go in the first quarter, our guys kind of figured out that this was just a normal football game,” coach Ronquillo said. “It’s 100 yards long and 54 yards wide. The crowd was great. The music was great. The atmosphere was fabulous. Once our guys got settled in, they started playing Yelm football.”
Yelm scored the second quarter’s first and only touchdown with about 10 minutes to go in the half, after senior Nathan Paul caught an 18-yard pass from senior quarterback Palaina Hooper, bringing the ball home. Yelm scored the extra point following the play.
With about eight minutes left in the half, the Wildcats made a 15-yard field goal, followed by a 42-yard field goal with less than a minute to go. This ended the half with a score of 21-13 Yelm.
In the third quarter, Hooper shot out a 47-yard pass to Wright, who scored a touchdown with nine minutes left in the quarter. Yelm scored the extra point.
Then, with about two minutes left in the third, Platt completed an 8-yard rushing touchdown for the Tornados, but no extra point was made.
No other points were scored in the third quarter, making the score 34-13 in Yelm’s favor moving into the fourth.
The Wildcats scored their second, and final, touchdown of the game with about 10 minutes left, followed by a successful extra point. Yelm responded to this with about one minute left in the game, when Platt scored his third rushing touchdown of the night for 9 yards, followed by senior Israel Mendez’s successful extra point, resulting in Yelm’s 41-20 victory.
Coach Ronquillo was sure to give junior Aden Schaler a shout-out for his contributions to Yelm’s defense in an interview with the Nisqually Valley News.
Coming up next for the Tornados is a 7 p.m. home game against Timberline High School on Friday, Sept. 17.
“Timberline is a really balanced team,” coach Ronquillo said. “I think they run the ball really well, and their passing game is coming along. They’ve got really great athletes, a good coaching staff, and this is going to be the first league game of the year. Right now, we’re both 0-0 going into league (play), and so this first one is important.”