Chiawana coach Steve Graff and West Valley coach Dan Eyman have known each other for years, so nothing either team did Friday night was a surprise, except for the last play of the game.
Chiawana sophomore Riley Cissne picked off a Brandon Battle pass and returned the ball 50 yards for a touchdown with no time on the clock to help seal the Riverhawks’ 30-12 victory over the Rams.
“I told him he should have taken a knee,” Graff told his former college roommate after the game. “That’s two ugly games in a row, but a win is a win.”
The Riverhawks go into next week’s Mid-Columbia Conference opener against Kamiakin at Lampson Stadium with a 2-0 record, but Graff said his team needs to improve if they are going to be 3-0 after next Friday’s game.
“Offensively, we need to execute better,” Graff said. “Our offensive line needs to do a better job of setting the tone. They were a little soft tonight. Defensively, we need to communicate better.”
Senior Tayden Jenkins ran for 164 yards and three touchdowns against West Valley, and Ryan Lowry kicked a 34-yard field goal to account for the rest of the scoring.
“Honestly, it wasn’t me, it was my offensive line,” Jenkins said.
Whatever it was, it was effective.
Trailing 6-3 early in the second quarter, Jenkins scored his first of the night on a 6-yard run to give Chiawana a 10-6 lead that they would not relinquish.
His second touchdown came early in the fourth quarter on a drive that started at the West Valley 44-yard line after a 28-yard punt return by Cissne.
A penalty to start the drive pushed the Riverhawks back in their own end, but Chiawana quickly made up the yards, getting a 12-yard run by Jenkins, a 25-yard pass play from Enoch Vargas to Daylen Storaci, and a 17-yard gain by Jenkins to land the ball at the Rams’ 5-yard line.
Jenkins took the ball over the goal line on the ensuing play, and after Lowry made good on the PAT, the Riverhawks had a 17-6 lead.
“Those two plays, he got big blocks up front,” Graff said of Jenkins. “I thought Enoch did a good job with the ball today.”
The Rams never backed down, but they dug themselves a hole on the next series that was too deep to get out of.
Deep in their end, Battle hit Jack Vandebrake with a 28 yard pass, and two plays later hit a receiver at the Chiawana 1-yard line, only to have the 41-yard play wiped out with a chop block penalty.
An illegal motion and a holding penalty had the Rams back on their side of the field and punting.
West Valley pulled within 17-12 with 4:15 left in the game on a Battle 10-yard touchdown run, but Chiawana scored twice more to pull away.
The Riverhawks found themselves at the their own 7-yard line to start their next series, but Jenkins soon had them into Rams territory with an 86-yard run up the middle of the field.
It looked as if Jenkins would take the ball to the end zone, but Jamie Plumlee caught him from behind and brought him down at the West Valley 6.
“I was cramping up there at the end,” Jenkins said of his long run. “I need to put in more conditioning.”
Ethan Garcia picked up 5 yards on two carries, and Jenkins punched it in from the 1 for a 24-12 game.
“On that last touchdown, I followed Joey Aikala’s big butt into the end zone,” Jenkins said.
Cissne’s pick-six — his first high school touchdown — was the icing on the cake for the Riverhawks.
“It was a pretty telegraphed pass,” Cisnee said of the play. “I find myself in the right spots and I get pretty lucky. I knew the game was over, I was just trying to get to the end zone. There was a lot of adrenaline going.”