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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Royal ends Seton Catholic’s season in 1A football semifinals

Cougars' best season in program history ends at 11-2

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
Seton Catholic quarterback Kolten Gesser (13) drops back to pass during the first quarter during Saturday's Class 1A state semifinal game against Royal. Royal topped Seton Catholic, 42-0.
Seton Catholic quarterback Kolten Gesser (13) drops back to pass during the first quarter during Saturday's Class 1A state semifinal game against Royal. Royal topped Seton Catholic, 42-0. (Meg Wochnick/The Columbian). Photo Gallery

ROYAL CITY — Remember the whole season, and not just one game.

That was the main message Seton Catholic High football coach Dan Chase addressed to his team after a 42-0 loss to Royal in Saturday’s Class 1A state semifinal to players who’ve never experienced what this group of young Cougars accomplished in a history-filled 2023 football season.

“You’ve paving the way for Seton Catholic football,” Chase said.

Indeed, these Cougars are.

Saturday’s loss to Royal, the three-time defending 1A champions seeking their fourth straight title next weekend, ends a historic season for a Seton program that wasn’t a recognizable name in Class 1A football. Seton reached the postseason for the first time in 2021, and won its first-ever playoff game three weeks ago.

The Cougars, after an 11-2 campaign, now are a recognizable name on the Class 1A stage.

“Watch out,” said junior running back/linebacker Jacob Williams, who had 91 rushing yards on 23 carries on Saturday.

Saturday’s game at Royal High School might’ve been viewed as a matchup of vastly different programs. Royal has been the state’s Class of 1A football power in recent years. Of its 11 state titles since 1996, six have come in the past eight seasons, including three straight WIAA titles going back to 2019.

Seton, on the other hand, has just 11 seasons of varsity football and zero prior state playoff experience until three weeks ago. The school launched the program in 2011 with a junior-varsity schedule and inaugural varsity campaign came a year later.

Yet the past three seasons, it’s been a steady climb to this stage.

In 2021, a 3-7 Seton team reached the Week 10 state preliminary round for the program’s inaugural playoff game. The Cougars reached the same stage in 2022 before what turned into a memorable 2023: a 8-1 regular-season, winning its first-ever playoff game in a Week 10 victory over Tenino, followed by consecutive first- and quarterfinal-round road victories to reach the state semifinals as a No. 12-seed.

“We started a culture this year,” junior Joe Callerame said. “We know what we can do; we just have to go out and execute it — for years to come. This is not going to be a one-time thing. “We’ve got our place here now. We’re coming back.”

Sophomore offensive lineman Austin St. Amour described the journey as a “wild ride” he was glad to be a part of.

“It was amazing,” the 6-foot-7, 330-pounder said. “Everything that’s going on in the background. Everybody working their tail off. … going from where we were before my freshman year until now, it’s so much fun.”

Saturday, Royal showed its royalty as one of the state’s elite. By the end of the first quarter, the Knights’ lead was 28-0 with three touchdown drives coming on plays of two, two and three plays. The lead reached 42-0 by the 8-minute, 23-second mark of the third quarter.

In 12 games, Royal’s defense has allowed just seven touchdowns, including zero through four postseason games. On Saturday, Seton’s offense got down to the Royal 27- and 19-yard lines on separates drives — one in each half — before turnovers on downs.

Quarterback Lance Allred accounted for four of Royal’s six touchdowns and Ethan Ellis had a game-high 153 yards and touchdown runs of 46 and 37 yards to lead the Knights (12-0) back to the 1A state championship game. They’ll face Lakeside of 9 Mile Falls next Friday at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

Watching Royal celebrate another trip to a championship game appearance gave so many players, such as Callerame, inspiration for what Seton Catholic can do moving forward. Seton also graduates just one senior — receiver Ryan Stuck.

“I know we’ve got it in us,” he said. “I know we can be that and better.”

ROYAL 42, SETON CATHOLIC 0

1A state semifinals

Seton 0 0 0 0 — 0
Royal 28 7 7 0 — 42

First quarter
R — Lance Allred 20 run (kick good)
R — Jackson Larsen 45 pass from Allred (kick good)
R — Ethan Ellis 37 run (kick good)
R — Allred 10 run (kick good)

Second quarter
R — Allred 5 run (kick good)

Third quarter
R — Ethan Ellis 46 run (kick good)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING — Seton Catholic: Joe Callerame 5-9, Jacob Williams 23-91, Teddy Wieczorek 1-5; Royal: Ethan Ellis 12-153, Lance Allred 10-90, Caden Allred 1-3, Ben Jenks 1-11, Shea Stevenson 1-2, Brody Bishop 3-8.
PASSING — Seton Catholic: 13-26-2-73; Royal: Lance Allred 5-8-1-179; Ben Jenks 2-4-0-15
RECEIVING — Seton Catholic: Joe Callerame 5-44, Ryan Stuck 2-3, Ryker Reulas 3-20, Teddy Wieczorek 3-18; Royal: Jackson Larsen 3-64, Caden Allred 2-15, Bennett Brown 1-22, Ethan Ellis 1-24, Case Christensen 1-14, Shea Stevenson 3-31.

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