Whether Kennewick’s 5-5 football team wins or loses when it takes on the Wilson Rams at 5 p.m. today at Lampson Stadium, it has been a great ride for the Lions.
And it has been a great couple of weeks for Kennewick senior quarterback Dillon Plew.
▪ Scored a touchdown and passed for another in leading Kennewick over Hanford 47-28 on Oct. 30 in a regular-season game that determined a regional playoff berth.
▪ Thrown for 258 yards and five touchdown passes in leading the Lions past Mt. Spokane 34-32 in last Friday’s 3A regional playoffs to advance to today’s first-round Class 3A state matchup against Wilson of Tacoma.
▪ Signed a letter of intent to play baseball next year at Washington State University.
Not bad for a guy who a year ago was thinking about how to become a better receiver.
But in May, Kennewick coach Bill Templeton decided that he needed Plew to be his quarterback for the 2015 season.
“He is a playmaker,” Templeton said. “Whether it’s football, making the 3-point shot in basketball, or in baseball, he has those intangible playmaking skills.”
Templeton shared a story in which Plew recently took a bad snap out of the shotgun.
“He pinned the ball to the ground, looked left and right, then picked it up and fired a pass,” Templeton said. “It was unbelievable.”
But it wasn’t easy in the beginning.
“I was nervous in Week 1,” Plew said of a 27-0 loss to Ellensburg. “I was mostly scared. I had no clue as to how the season would go after that. If we hadn’t beaten Eisenhower that next week, I don’t know would have happened.”
But the Lions did beat Ike 40-6 and righted the ship.
Templeton and assistant coach Lenny Ayres helped him develop, telling him who should be open on different pass plays.
Growing on the field
There were two turning points to the Lions’ season, both involving losses.
The first was a 36-35 Pasco victory Oct. 2, when the Bulldogs scored on the game’s final play.
“After that game, we took a step back and asked who we are, who we wanted to be and how do we get there,” Plew said.
It wasn’t until the Lions lost 42-35 to Chiawana on Oct. 23 that things really changed. Kennewick went from a run-heavy offense to closer to 50-50.
“(Assistant coach Rob) Oram suggested we use the spread,” Templeton said. “Dillon picked it up right away. First series, it took him three plays to move it downfield and score.”
The coaches told him two days before the game that they would try the scheme. He has gotten better at it each week.
“A lot of our success we’ve had lately has to do with Plew’s development,” Templeton said. “He understands what’s going on with the schemes. And we’ve gotten better. Our kids are playing with confidence.”
“I knew we had the pieces around me,” he said. “It took the pressure off.”
The results include a 131.7 pass efficiency rating, second best in the Mid-Columbia Conference; 1,375 passing yards; and almost a 4-to-1 TD pass-to-interception ratio (15 TDs, 4 picks).
Pretty good numbers.
Continuing the ride
The Lions began the season running steps in Lampson Stadium. When the players got to the top each time, they’d yell, “Finish!”
Plew hopes there will be a few more weeks of football season before it’s finished.
“We feel good with what we’re doing,” Plew said. “We’re really confident.”
And he believes the Lions could turn this into a really good month.
“It’s been a good two weeks,” Plew said. “We’ll try to win and turn it into three good weeks.”