LAKEWOOD — In a rematch of the 2018 2B state championship, the Kalama Chinooks once again came out on top in a thrilling come-from-behind, 16-14, victory over Napavine Saturday night at Harry E. Lang Stadium.
Down by eight with just under six minutes to play, it looked like the Tigers would prevail after turning Jackson Esary and the Chinooks over on downs on the goal line. But Kalama’s seniors wouldn’t let that happen.
The Chinooks swarmed Napavine’s Gavin Parker for a safety on the very next play to make the deficit just six, and after a long three-minute drive that included several third-down conversions, Esary plunged into the end zone on a 3-yard scamper to tie it up at 14-14 with 2:53 to play.
For good measure, Esary ran the exact same play on the two-point try to give the Chinooks their first lead of the game with under three to play.
“I wasn’t losing,” Esary said. “Wasn’t happening.”
Then after receiver Max Cox picked off Tigers quarterback Ashton Demarest for the third time on a deep ball on the ensuing drive, that was all she wrote.
The 16-14 win is the Chinooks’ fourth ever state championship, and its first since beating these same Tigers in 2018.
“(It means) everything,” Esary said. “Me and my boys have been playing together since the first grade. This has been our mission. I’ve never been so happy. To win one with my best friends, I’ve never been happier.”
Esary finished with 216 yards passing with a touchdown, and just 13 net yards rushing after getting sacked seven times. Though the senior came up huge when it mattered, it was Kalama’s defense that kept it in the game throughout.
“We have a game plan every week, and everyone has a job, and if everyone does their job, we’re going to come out on top,” Chinooks coach Sean McDonald said. “We did a good job tonight and made a lot of big plays.”
Kalama held Napavine to just 242 yards of total offense, and picked off Demarest three times. Normally-dynamic tailback Gavin Parker had just 19 rushing yards for the Tigers.
“No one expected this game,” Esary said. “We’re physical, we came to play and came to hit. Everyone played great, hands down.”
Saturday night’s win over previously-unbeaten Napavine is just the culmination of a historic season for the Chinooks, which saw them run the table and go a perfect 12-0 en route to their fourth state championship and their third in five seasons.
“We had a lot of guys banged up,” McDonald said. “Everybody fought through and did what they needed to do to get a W and that’s what we needed to win a state championship.”
KALAMA 16, NAPAVINE 14
Napavine 0 7 0 7 — 14
Kalama 0 6 0 10 — 16
NAP — Mario Lara 4 interception return (kick good)
KAL — Nate Meyer 21 pass from Jackson Esary (pass failed)
NAP — Glade Shannon 17 pass from Ashton Demarest (kick good)
KAL — Safety, Napavine RB tackled in end zone
KAL — Esary 3 run (Esary run)
RUSHING — Napavine: Ashton Demarest 15-106, Gavin Parker 11-19; Kalama: Jackson Esary 31-13.
PASSING — Napavine: Demarest 7-13-3-97; Kalama: Esary 18-26-1-216.
RECEIVING — Napavine: Parker 2-37, Glade Shannon 2-22; Kalama: Nate Meyer 6-99, Bradey O’Neil 4-59.