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Thursday, February 29, 2024
Feb. 29, 2024

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Seton Catholic football team claims first playoff win in program history

The Cougars claim dominant 51-7 win against Tenino to reach Class 1A state playoffs

By , Columbian staff writer

Coaches on the Seton Catholic football team tell players to keep a “1-0 mentality” each week, no matter the outcome of a game.

But if the Cougars took a little extra time to celebrate Friday’s Week 10 district playoff victory, they certainly earned it.

In its first home playoff game (and first playoff win) in program history, Seton Catholic stormed past Tenino 51-7 under a constant downpour to advance to the Class 1A state playoffs, checking off another milestone during a memorable season.

“I feel like this was kind of our statement win,” junior Jacob Williams said.

The lopsided result made such a statement, especially on a night when the elements had little effect in slowing the Cougars, who committed few mistakes but forced the Beavers into several.

16 Photos
The Seton Catholic football team storms onto the field Friday, Nov. 3, 2023, before a playoff game against Tenino at Seton Catholic High School.
Prep Football: Tenino at Seton Catholic Photo Gallery

Five turnovers created (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries) frequently gave Seton’s offense advantageous field position.

The Cougars cashed in, with a pair of Williams rushing touchdowns, plus a Joe Callerame 54-yard touchdown run, to give them a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter.

Three second-quarter interceptions — two from Owen Pitzer and one from Ryker Ruelas — stopped Tenino drives before they really started. The last turnover of the half set up an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kolten Gesser to Ruelas with seconds remaining in the half. The Cougars took a 31-0 lead into halftime.

“The whole time we stayed on the gas pedal,” Ruelas said. “We never let down (and) we just kept going up from there.”

After Ruelas returned the second-half kickoff for a touchdown, the Cougars quickly forced another takeaway when Tenino quarterback Cody Strawn was stripped of the ball and Seton Catholic’s Caden Sullivan recovered close to midfield.

Just four plays later, Gesser found a wide open Ryan Stuck streaking down the field for a 41-yard touchdown. The 44-0 score midway through the fourth quarter put a running clock in effect for the remainder of the game.

The Cougars’ defense maintained a shutout for most of four quarters, until Strawn scored a late 32-yard touchdown with four minutes remaining.

“We play our game, we don’t play down to our opponents and we all know that we play to our level,” Williams said. “Just knowing that, and not caring about who’s lining up across from us really makes us play to the best of our abilities.”

Seton Catholic had been knocking on the door of a postseason win for multiple seasons. Trips to the district playoffs in 2022 and 2021 ended with humbling defeats to powers Montesano and Eatonville, respectively.

This season, the Cougars (9-1) soared to second place in the Trico League and earned the right to host their first playoff game. They were eager to take advantage of the opportunity.

“It’s amazing,” Ruelas said. “We’re building a culture … and we’re just going to keep building from here.”

While the Cougars basked in the win on their home field, coaches offered a swift reminder in the post-game huddle of the challenge that lies ahead in the 1A state playoffs, which will be finalized Sunday when brackets are released.

The Cougars won’t be catching anyone off guard after a 44-point win, but they don’t seem to mind. Next week is another opportunity to go 1-0 and show how far they’ve come.

“Nobody is surprised here,” Williams said. “We all worked for this all offseason … everybody saw it coming and we’re not done yet. We’re ready to play.”


Tenino 0 0 0 7—7

Seton 21 10 13 7—51

First quarter

SC — Jacob Williams 17 run (Dalton Woods kick)

SC — Williams 1 run (Woods kick)

SC — Joe Callerame 54 run (Woods kick)

Second quarter

SC — Woods 22 field goal

SC — Ryker Ruelas 8 pass from Kolten Gesser (Woods kick)

Third quarter

SC — Ruelas 80 kickoff return (kick failed)

SC — Ryan Stuck 41 pass from Gesser (Woods kick)

Fourth quarter

SC — Ruelas 34 pass from Gesser (Woods kick)

T — Cody Strawn 32 run (Miguel Espinoza kick)

Individual statistics

RUSHING — Tenino: Cody Strawn 7-44, Lucas Watterson 10-36, Nolan Watson 16-74; Seton Catholic: Jacob Williams 15-107, Joe Callerame 5-85, Ryker Ruelas 1-5, Brady Milam 1-(minus 5), Team 1-(minus 3).

PASSING — Tenino: Cody Strawn 4-11-3-34; Seton Catholic: Kolten Gesser 5-11-0-95.

RECEIVING — Tenino: Owen Whitaker 2-23, Parker Minerich 2-11; Seton Catholic: Ryker Ruelas 3-46, Joe Callerame 1-8, Ryan Stuck 1-41.