Denied a division title, Auburn Riverside took care of city business Friday night.
Behind bruising running and effective passing, the Ravens jumped out to a 31-0 lead, then cruised to a 48-28 victory over rival Auburn in a North Puget Sound League Olympic Division football game at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
Auburn Riverside (6-1 division, 8-1 overall) seized the Fugate Trophy as winner of the three-team city season series and secured the Olympic’s No. 2 seed. The Ravens advance to play Camas (8-1), the defending 4A state champion and No. 2 team from the Greater St. Helens League, in a district playoff game at home next Friday. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“It feels really great. Never had it before in all four years. Feels good to have it my senior year … sort of a going-out thing,” said Sam Braboy, running back and linebacker, of the program capturing the city chrome for the first time since 2013.
Braboy, a 205-pound workman, ran for 97 yards and four touchdowns and made 15 tackles in the win.
Auburn (3-4, 5-4), eliminated from the postseason a week ago, hosts Kentridge (1-6 NPSL Cascade, 2-7) in a regular-season finale Thursday in coach Gordon Elliott’s last game with the Trojans. Elliott is retiring after 34 years of coaching, the last 16 at Auburn.
The Ravens responded with wins over Federal Way and Auburn after losing a four-point lead in the fourth quarter and the game, 30-27, at eventual division champion Enumclaw two weeks ago.
“It says we don’t quit,” Braboy said of the team’s quick recovery from the loss. “We fight for every centimeter, every blade of grass.”
Ravens quarterback Tiano Malietufa added: “It was an off-week for us. We weren’t focused (against Enumclaw). We had big heads, so it humbled us out and it made us really want to work.”
On Friday night, Malietufa and the Ravens scored early and often to set the tone. The senior left-hander threw a rare deep ball, a 58-yard strike to a streaking Jaden Robinson on the game’s sixth play from scrimmage.
“Jaden watches a lot of film. He knew the corner was going to bite (at the line of scrimmage) … and he got wide open. It’s what we work on in practice.”
Malietufa ran for 90 yards and passed for 139 for the Ravens. He left the game with a smile and a shiner under his left eye. Someone, he said, kicked him as his helmet was jarred late in the knock-down, neighborhood brawl-like game.
“We’re built for these type of games,” Malietufa said. “We knew we had to be physical all night.”
Shut down early, the Trojans couldn’t move the ball. The Ravens did, with Braboy scoring three times of runs from 2, 10 and 20 yards and Griffin Cummins kicking the first of two field goals.
Hope Tuamoheloa’s 1-yard run got Auburn on the board with 2:20 left in the first half. The Trojans then recovered an onside kick, drove to the Ravens’ 14, but Robinson intercepted a Tuamoheloa pass in the end zone as time expired.
Tuamoheloa broke free on a 51-yard TD run early in the third quarter, but the Ravens pulled away behind Cummins’ 37-yard field goal and Braboy’s fourth scoring run, a 1-yard dive, with 36 seconds left in the period.
Jayden Solis, a 225-pound sophomore, scored the Ravens’ sixth TD, a 6-yard run, sandwiched between Ben Freeman and Joe Fagan TD runs for Auburn in the fourth quarter.
A blue-collar club, Auburn Riverside churned out 452 yards of offense, of which 246 came on the ground.
“We had a good start. We have to finish better,” said Ravens coach Bryant Thomas. “We knew they were going to play hard (for Elliott). They love that guy. He’s a beloved guy in this community. Those kids played their butts off for him up until the last minute.”
In defeat, Elliott praised his players’ efforts.
“All we can ask for is for our kids to play hard, and they did,” he said. “We just dug ourselves a big hole early.
“It’s been a long time doing this. It’s sad to quit, but it’s time to quit,” Elliott said of his retirement. “I had all these kinds of guys for 35 years. I’m going to miss that part.”
Elliott had nothing but praise for the Ravens.
“They’re a good football team, no doubt about it. They have all the ingredients of a good playoff team. Hopefully, they will do well.”
Camas will be a difficult assignment.
“We just have to continue to improve. That’s the fun part,” Thomas said. “We’re in the show now, so let’s get it.”