Kennewick holds on for rare win over Kamiakin

This Kennewick High football team seems to have a flare for the dramatic.

And whatever was left of your fingernails from watching the first three games of the year, was definitely gone by the time the final buzzer sounded at Lampson Stadium on Friday night.

The Lions survived a mad scramble at the end to pull out a 21-19, come-from-behind win over rival Kamiakin to even their season record at 2-2. The win was the Lions’ first over the Braves since 2012.

“We are definitely going to enjoy this one tonight,” said Kennewick senior Talon LaFontaine. “But we need to keep building on this.”

Kennewick (2-2, 2-2) started the season 0-2, but has beaten Mid-Columbia Conference newcomer Hermiston and rival Kamiakin in consecutive weeks heading into a non-conference game against Davis next week.

“I am just really proud of our guys for battling out there,” said Kennewick coach Bill Templeton. “They just kept playing; I just proud of them.”

Kamiakin (2-2, 2-1), coming off an impressive win last week against Hanford, put together a final drive that had the crowd at Lampson on the edge of their seats. The game went down to the final play, with LaFontaine leaping in front of Jaxson Nichols in the end zone for an interception as time expired.

It was the Lions third interception of the night.

Trailing 21-19, Lucas Castilleja and the Braves got the ball with 1:45 remaining back at their own 11-yard line. After a holding penalty on the first play, the Braves needed a big third-down conversion just to get it started.


But after that first hiccup, the Braves got rolling and were at the Kennewick 15-yard line with 20 seconds remaining. But a huge sack and then LaFontaine’s interception ended the comeback bid.

“We just had to keep playing hard and just get a few stops, and we did,” LaFontaine said.

Kamiakin took a 13-7 halftime lead, but some early adjustments helped jumpstart the Lions offense. Atticus Templeton, who spent the first half at wide receiver, took over at quarterback. He helped lead the Lions to a quick touchdown to take the lead at 14-13 with 9:56 left in the third quarter.

Blaine Chavez came in on a key third down and completed a 36-yard pass to LaFontaine. Then on the next play, Templeton connected with Myles Mayovsky for a 12-yard touchdown.

Chavez had another key completion late in the third quarter, hitting LaFontaine again, this time for a 27- yard touchdown to push the Lions lead to 21-13.

“We put (Templeton) in for a change a pace in the second half,” Bill Templeton said. “But I cannot say enough about Blaine, he came in and made some great throws.”

Media: Kennewick @ Hermiston Recap - Eastern Oregonian

The Hermiston Bulldogs were pulled back to earth Friday night by the Kennewick Lions.

After winning their first two Mid-Columbia Conference games, the Bulldogs dropped a 26-25 game to the Lions. A chance to win the game late was foiled by as a bad snap on a 38-yard field goal by Juan Carlos Navarrete with 50.2 seconds left on the clock gave Kennewick its first win of the season at Kennison Field.

“That’s part of football,” Hermiston coach David Faaeteete said. “We didn’t do a good job of bouncing back after a big win over Richland last week. Kennewick is a good football team and they came to play.”

The Lions, who blocked two PATS, recorded a safety, and ran a fake punt for a touchdown, scored with 4:13 left in the fourth quarter to take a 26-25 lead.

“We needed every play today,” Kennewick coach Bill Templeton said. “We just beat a good football team. I couldn’t be more proud of our boys.”

Kennewick freshman Myles Mayovsky, who ran for 169 yards on the night, scored the final touchdown, and Ethan Woolery put the PAT though the uprights for the one-point lead.

“He has been the man since he was 5 years old,” Templeton said of Mayovsky.

Trailing 13-10 at the half, the Lions turned a fourth-and-6 at the Hermiston 48 into a fake punt. Talon LaFontaine connected with Blaine Chavez for a touchdown and a 17-13 lead.

Wyatt Noland, who ran for 120 yards on the night, picked up 25 for a Bulldogs’ touchdown on the ensuing possession, but a blocked PAT left Hermiston with a 19-17 lead.

With 9:47 remaining in regulation, the Lions took down Andrew James in the end zone to tie the score at 19.

Hermiston went back out front 25-19 as James ran the ball in from 13 yards out. The Bulldogs went for two, put the pass failed.

“That’s the way football goes,” Faaeteete said. “Our kids will be hungry next week (at Walla Walla). We will learn from our loss and poor execution. This is just a bump in the road.”

The Bulldogs took a 13-10 lead at the half with both teams getting big yardage out of their signature backs.

Hermiston’s Noland ran for 84 yards on 10 carries, and helped set up the Bulldogs’ first touchdown, a 21-yard pass from James to Jordan Ramirez 3 1/2 minutes into the game.

Mayovsky, who had 94 yards in the first half, had two runs of 14 yards on Kennewick’s first drive that put the Lions in the red zone.

JJ Rodriguez ran the ball in from 10 yards out for a 7-7game with 4:37 left in the first.

The Bulldogs struck once again in the first to take a 13-7 lead.

After Kennewick turned the ball over on downs deep in its own end, Hermiston scored two plays later as James connected with Youbani Razon for a 10-yard scoring pass. The kicked was block.

The Lions came back with a 27-yard field goal from Ethan Woolery to pull within 13-10.

Lions Notch First Win 26-25 over Hermiston

Kennewick 26, Hermiston 25: Freshman Myles Mayovsky ran for 169 yards and a touchdown, and the Lions got big plays on special teams and defense in the MCC victory.

Kennewick blocked two extra points and scored on a fake punt, and kicker Ethan Woolery converted his three PATs and connected on a 27-yard field goal. The Lions defense scored a safety to start the fourth quarter.

Hermiston QB Andrew James threw for a pair of scores and ran for another, racking up 244 yards of offense.

The Bulldogs had a shot at a 38-yard field goal with 50 seconds left, but a bad snap spoiled the opportunity.

Kennewick quarterback is making up for lost time

He missed nearly all last season. This Kennewick quarterback is making up for lost time

After a strong sophomore season in 2016 in which he ran for 10 touchdowns and passed for another 16 as Kennewick’s quarterback, A.J. broke his ankle in the 2017 season opener against Prosser.

His season was lost.

“It was a very tough year,” said his father, Bill Templeton, who also happens to be Kennewick’s head football coach. “He almost got to come back last year against Shadle Park (in the regional playoff crossover). He was running with no pain. But on the second to last play the night before we played the game, he goofed it up again running out of bounds.”

This season, as a senior, A.J. Templeton is making up for lost time.

“I definitely feel like I have to play for two seasons,” he admitted.

When football — something you love to play with all of your heart — has been taken away, you learn to appreciate it.

“It’s one of the only sports where legally you can hit someone and not get into trouble,” said A.J., who will also play in the defensive secondary this season besides quarterbacking. “I love the strategy to it. It’s the ultimate team sport, and it feels like a brotherhood.”

He learned to love the game at an early age.

His father was a star running back in the mid-1980s for legendary coach Ed Troxel at Kennewick High. His grandfather is the equally legendary Craig Beverlin, the former longtime head coach at Kamiakin.

“We were doing throwing drills when he was 3,” said Bill Templeton.

The whole father-son dynamic with dad as head coach and son as star athlete has been handled by both with grace.

“First of all, he is just a quality person,” said Bill. “He’s fun to be around. But it’s a strange dynamic sometimes. I’ll get after him when he doesn’t do something correct with his footwork. He’s told me he calls me ‘Coach’ when he’s mad at me.”

That happens rarely now, admits A.J.

“I feel in terms of our relationship, we don’t let what happens on the field affect us,” he said. “When I was younger, I felt I had to prove myself to my teammates more than maybe I needed to. But now, we’re just teammates first.”

Sometimes time gives a better perspective.

What hasn’t changed is the son knows the football X’s and O’s like the back of his hand.

“I know the offense pretty well,” said A.J. “I know what the linemen, all receivers and running backs are supposed to be doing on each play.”

The journey to get back on the football field after a lost 2017 was too long not to savor what happens this season.

“That was really hard,” A.J. admits. “I felt I kept positive through most of it. But it was hard to watch from the sidelines, watching everyone struggle and I couldn’t be on the field with them.”

But he put in the work.

“I had a lot of rehab,” he said. “I went to Elite Ambitions Training, which helped me a lot to get through rehab. It got my strength level back to where it needed to be.”

He got his weight up to 195, and turned out for track – which helped with his speed.

He now weighs 183 pounds, which should help him break tackles when he runs.

“His progress this summer was great,” said Bill. “He loves football. He’d like to go someplace like Whitworth. But when you lose your junior season, we don’t know what that does (for recruiting interest).”

A good postseason run with his Kennewick teammates should answer that question.

NOTES

DL Jagger Childs was honorable mention All-MCC last season as a sophomore. He’s 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and getting interest from Washington State and Utah already. He’s also the son of Ron Childs, a former standout at running back and linebacker at Kamiakin, then a star linebacker at WSU before playing for the Tri-Cities Fever. Ron Child’s is also an assistant coach for Kennewick High. ... OL Baylor McElroy was honorable mention All-MCC last season as a sophomore. He has a twin brother, Baiden. Both are 6-5, and Baiden weighs 250 while Baylor is 260. Both should start on the line. … Seniors Danny Schuldheisz and Izaiah Canada should anchor the O-line. … A.J. Templeton will look to seniors Manny Flores and Talon LaFontaine as his main receiving targets. … Besides Childs, the Lions will have a number of other juniors starting on defense, including FS Blaine Chavez and LB Kaleb Stevenson. “Brayden McCarley is a hard-nosed senior and linebacker,” said Bill Templeton. … Cedric Riel and Moses McAninch, standouts last season, graduated and are playing for Eastern Oregon University.