Quilcene Rangers win SeaTac League championship in surprise thriller

Posted 3/25/21

In the pre-game huddle on the field before the start of last Saturday’s SeaTac League championship game, the Quilcene Rangers didn’t come to praise the Evergreen Lutheran Eagles, but to …

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Quilcene Rangers win SeaTac League championship in surprise thriller

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In the pre-game huddle on the field before the start of last Saturday’s SeaTac League championship game, the Quilcene Rangers didn’t come to praise the Evergreen Lutheran Eagles, but to bury them.

“We’re wearing black because it’s a funeral!” someone shouted in the team huddle.

But it was the Rangers, and not the Eagles, that got the fright — and fight — of their lives in the season-ending finale in boys varsity football.

Quilcene squandered a first quarter 6-0 lead with a zombie-like performance over the next two stanzas as Evergreen rallied for 28 unanswered points.

Instead of being the ones bidding the fond farewells, it was the Rangers who were holding the shovels and digging their own hole, and staring up at a 28-6 deficit with about five minutes into the third quarter.

The show wasn’t yet over for this Night of the Living Dead. 

After trading touchdowns in the third, the Rangers went from ghastly to great, outscoring Evergreen 16-12 in the third and 24-0 in the fourth for an otherworldly 46-34 win.

“We made some mistakes and then we just had some breaks go against us,” Quilcene Coach Trey Beathard said.

Beathard said the Rangers weren’t as well-prepared to face a team they had beaten 41-20 earlier this year.

“I’m proud of the kids. They took care of business and they controlled what they can control — which was to win the game,” the coach added.

The Rangers’ Bishop Budnek scored the first touchdown of the game on a short scamper from inside the 5-yard line to put Quilcene ahead, 6-0, with less than 40 seconds in the first quarter.

He would finish the game with four touchdowns.

The rest of Budnek’s touchdowns would have to wait, however, as the Eagles’ impressive air attack punished the Rangers and Evergreen repeatedly found itself inside the Quilcene red zone with big play after big play.

Jack Pittenger, Evergreen’s sophomore quarterback, went on a terrifying tear in the air, completing 19-of-32 throws for 313 yards.

Evergreen led by 22-6 at the half, and when the third quarter started with the Rangers on the receiving end, the Eagles went for the onside kick and recovered it.

Evergreen subsequently marched the short distance that remained to score again at the 9:19 mark of the third quarter.

Down 28-6, the Rangers quickly responded with a touchdown less than a minute later to trim the Eagles’ advantage to 28-12, then 28-14 after a successful two-point conversion.

Budnek added another rushing touchdown to close the gap to 28-22 at 5:02 in the third quarter.

But Evergreen had an answer, as well, and the Eagles scored little more than 2 minutes later to push their advantage to 34-22.

Undaunted, the Rangers rallied with 24 unanswered points — the last three touchdowns coming with less than 7 minutes to play in the game.

Quilcene’s coach said the team had talked earlier about a comeback.

“We mess up sometimes, but they don’t give up. And they still believe,” Beathard said. 

“They keep fighting and they believe that they can win,” he said.

Beathard gave much credit to the team’s trio of seniors; Chase Newman, Austin Hough and Zack Budnek.

“All three of them had exceptional games,” Beathard said. 

“Zach Budnek was the league MVP last year as a junior, and he was an All-State player. I’m sure he deserves that again,” the coach said.

“Chase Newman got hurt the first game and hadn’t been able to play; now he was released to play again,” Beathard said of his senior quarterback who had to sit out after breaking a finger in the first game of the season.

“He had some big plays that really helped turn it back around ... and get momentum going on our side,” the coach said.

Newman scored a crucial touchdown late in the game that helped seal the deal. He also added to Quilcene’s rushing efforts with 89 yards on 10 carries.

Bishop Budnek finished with 28 carries for 227 yards to lead the Rangers.

Hough also caught a touchdown pass in the contest.

Quilcene ended the night with 380 total yards, while the Eagles amassed 386.

Cash Thacker led the Rangers in tackles with 12, five solo. Newman had nine tackles, four solo.  

Zach Budnek also had two interceptions, while Bishop Budnek and Deakon Budnek had one each. Kevin Alejo and Ashton Johnston also had one pick each.

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