Undersized on the field and overmatched on paper, undaunted Auburn Mountainview punched back at the bigger kid on the block Friday night.
The Lions delivered a shiner, not a knockout.
Behind an attack that sputtered early and responded late, Todd Beamer wore down and pulled away from Auburn Mountainview for a 26-7 victory in a North Puget Sound League division crossover playoff game for district seeding purposes at Federal Way Stadium.
Ar’Tavious Magee caught one touchdown pass and came up with two of Beamer’s four interceptions, and senior running back Billy Vann ran for 143 yards and two TDs for the Titans (7-2). Beamer, the league’s Mountain Division champion, secured the NPSL top seed to next week’s district playoffs, where the Titans play host to KingCo 4A’s Skyline (5-4) for a state berth.
“We look forward to the competition. We love competition every time,” said Magee, a senior wideout and defensive back. “Tonight we had a slow start, great finish.”
Despite the loss, Valley Division champion Auburn Mountainview (3-6) earned the NPSL No. 3 seed to the district playoffs, where it will play WesCo No. 3 seed Mount Vernon (7-2). Kickoff is 7 p.m. next Friday at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
“Our kids played extremely hard. They battled them for 48 minutes as hard as they could. We just can’t make mistakes against teams like that,” said Lions coach Jared Gervais. “Unfortunately, mistakes were made and some of the breaks didn’t go our way. We couldn’t overcome them against a team like Beamer. There’s a reason they were Mountain Division champs and ranked eighth in state. They’re a really, really good football team that has a chance to make a run in the playoffs.”
The Lions lost more than a difficult game. Junior quarterback Carson Klemetsen took a hard, helmet-to-helmet blow after scrambling out of the pocket late in the first quarter. Wobbly, he didn’t return. His availability for next week’s game depends on him clearing concussion protocol.
Other players battled injuries throughout the game, notably standout lineman Anthony Wayman who was sidelined with back spasms.
Still, the next man up kept the Lions in the game.
Jacob Boullion, the team’s fourth quarterback to take a varsity snap this season, was ushered into the game. The sophomore toiled but responded, connecting with his receivers on short passes. Without run support, Boullion led a quick scoring drive that culminated with his 22-yard TD pass to Cooper White, who made a diving catch and landed just past the goal line. The score cut the Titans’ lead to 17-7 with 5:20 left to play in the half.
“He was playing in a combined C team-JV game versus Hazen on Monday, and Friday night he’s playing in the NPSL championship,” Gervais said of Boullion. “It’s a big turnaround in four days. … He played much better as the game went along.”
After Beamer’s Nate Clow kicked his second field goal of the game, a 30-yarder, that extended the lead to 20-7 at 7:11 of the third quarter, White returned the ensuing kickoff 74 yards to the Titan 21. But Boullion was sacked on the next play, and Magee’s interception near the end zone doused the drive.
Vann later scored on a 22-yard run that restored Beamer’s lead to 26-7, with 5:20 left in the third quarter.
The Titans overcame a sluggish start. Magee took a short pass from quarterback Brandon Niksich and broke free on a 56-yard dash to the end zone for a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
A Marvis Wilson end zone interception set up Beamer’s second score, Vann’s 1-yard run early in the second quarter. A Magee interception led to Clow’s 32-yard field goal midway in the same period.
Beamer shut down Auburn Mountainview’s run and capitalized on turnovers.
“We definitely wanted that 1 seed,” said Titans coach Darren McKay. “We were division champs, but now when you win this one, you are pretty much North Puget Sound League champs. That’s always the goal, especially preseason when we were one of those teams picked to be up there. You just never know how it was going to play out.”
McKay expected and got a struggle with the Lions.
“They always battle. We’ve had some pretty good games,” he said. “Last year it was 27-26 (a Lions win) and the year before that we stopped them inside the 5-yard line when the score was 10-3 (a Beamer win).
“They do a nice job with their kids,” McKay said, “and you’re right, they are scrappy. They’re not the biggest group.”
White was at his usual best, playing nearly every down.
“They’re a good, physical team. They play hard,” said White, a junior jack-of-all trades. “They have some big boys on the team, but size doesn’t matter to us because we got some guys who can get it done, no matter the size.
“It was a good fight.”