4A football: Union cooks up a big playoff road win

Cowan's huge game helps to beat Graham-Kapowsin

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

SPANAWAY — Trent Cowan just might have driven the Union bus home Friday night.

Sure seemed like he did everything else for the Titans.

"He's going to make me dinner when we get home, too," Union coach Cale Piland said. "Actually, I should be making him dinner."

Cowan and the Titans cooked up a special entrée, rolling to a 39-22 victory over Graham-Kapowsin in a Class 4A state preliminary round football playoff at Art Crate Field.

Cowan caught seven passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, and he was the team's leading rusher with 44 yards on four carries. On defense, he intercepted three passes and knocked away two more balls that were destined for long gains. Oh, and just because he can, he added a field goal to give his team a three-possession cushion in the fourth quarter.

"I don't think I've had a game of this caliber. It's really awesome to play for this team. Great coaches, great teammates," Cowan said.

"You just try to help the team out as much as you can. It's the best feeling in the world when you get the win and you know you contributed and the whole team played well. It's phenomenal."

Union (7-3), the third-place team from the 4A Greater St. Helens League, will be on the road for the opening round of the 4A state playoffs, either at Richland or Gonzaga Prep.

"We can go really far," linebacker Mason Proudfit said. "We're coming together as a team. We're getting the chemistry going. There's always that one underdog team that makes a run for it. We're that team."

Friday, the Titans got big plays from that whole team — offense, defense, and a key special teams play when Graham-Kapowsin had the momentum.

James Munson corralled a bouncing ball on a kickoff, ran into a pile of defenders, and somehow broke free for a 75-yard return late in the third quarter.

The Eagles had just scored back-to-back touchdowns to cut a 19-point deficit to six points. Munson's return and Treve' Ensley's two-point conversion run put Union back up by 14.

"I was worried about controlling the ball," Munson acknowledged. "I just did a little spin move, and I found daylight. Once I found daylight, no one could stop me."

Leon Siofele scored two rushing touchdowns and caught another TD pass for the Titans.

Union sophomore quarterback Nolan Henry, in his first playoff start, completed 12 of 17 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

"It was awesome. The atmosphere of the playoffs is just huge," Henry said. "We knew they were going to be a good opponent. But our receivers kept getting open, and we had great protection from the o-line."

Even with all those points, the Union defense also had to play big in order to advance.

The Union defense shook off those two Eagles touchdowns in the third quarter and got the ball back on downs on the next three G-K possessions.

Proudfit had the hit of the night, a 7-yard sack on a fourth-down play on the second play of the fourth quarter.

"Oh my God, you see him standing in the pocket, holding the ball, and I just wanted to make the big play," Proudfit said. "It got me going. It got everyone going."

It pretty much got the Titans thinking they were done with this game and heading to the next round.

"When we had to raise up and get some stops, we did," Piland said.

Union took over on downs, then marched to field-goal range. Cowan was true on a 21-yarder to make it 39-22.

By then, Cowan might have been tired.

His first quarter interception stopped another potential momentum swing in favor of the Eagles. Graham-Kapowsin had tackled Union in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead and had the ball, looking for a quick 9-0 lead.

Instead, Cowan intercepted a pass, setting up Union on a short field. Siofele scored his first TD on a fourth-down, 1-yard run to make it 7-2.

Cowan picked off another pass early in the second quarter, returning the ball 77 yards to the G-K 2-yard line. Siofele scored on the next play.

The Eagles made it 14-9 on a 13-play, 80-yard drive, but the Titans responded with an 11-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Cowan scored on a 34-yard pass from Henry.

Cowan ended the half by intercepting a desperation pass toward the end zone.

Union needed four plays to score in the second half, with Henry finding Siofele for a 23-yard scoring play to make it 28-9.

The Eagles had their rally. The Titans survived it. And Union will get another road trip, with Cowan behind the wheel.

UNION 39, GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN 22

Union 7 14 15 3--39

Graham-Kapowsin 2 7 13 0--22

First quarter

GK -- Safety, tackled Union in end zone

U -- Leon Siofele 1 run (Mitch Wheelon kick)

Second quarter

U -- Siofele 2 run (Wheelon kick)

GK -- Dylan Campbell 11 pass from Brady Austin (Nate Harden kick)

U -- Trent Cowan 34 pass from Nolan Henry (Wheelon kick)

Third quarter

U -- Siofele 23 pass from Henry (Wheelon kick)

GK -- Teague James 3 run (kick failed)

GK -- James 16 run (Harden kick)

U -- James Munson 75 kickoff return (Treve' Ensley run)

Fourth quarter

U -- Cowan 21 FG

Individual statistics

RUSHING -- Union -- James Munson 6-13, Henry 2-1, Siofele 9-20, Treve' Ensley 3-6, Cowan 4-44. Graham-Kapowsin -- Teague James 22-177, Kyle Madsen 4-13, Campbell 3-8, Kahlil Dawson 1-(minus-3), Austin 8-17.

PASSING -- Union -- Henry 12-17-0-184, Siofele 1-1-0-6, Cowan 0-1-0-0. Graham-Kapowsin -- Austin 13-31-3-144.

RECEIVING -- Union -- Siofele 3-52, Cowan 7-106, Micah Merfeld 1-9, Ensley 1-17, Henry 1-6. Graham-Kapowsin -- Scott King 1-10, Connor McLeod 5-69, Campbell 5-37, Madsen 1-7, Dawson 1-21.