For the first two quarters, it didn’t matter where the Peninsula Seahawks handed the ball to running back Avega Siolo.
It almost didn’t matter how many times, either.
Siolo, a senior, racked up 261 yards on just eight carries, and his five first-half touchdowns vaulted Peninsula (7-3) into the Class 3A state tournament for the second straight season Saturday night following a 55-7 triumph over Chief Sealth at Roy Anderson Field.
Five of Siolo’s first six touches went for scores of 50, 66 and 68 yards, and he had a pair of 3-yard touchdown runs. He also caught an 18-yard screen pass and returned a kickoff 21 yards to give him an even 300 in all-purpose yardage.
“I don’t want to take any credit,” Siolo said. “There was great blocking from the linemen and great blocking from the receivers. Every time I got down the field, I saw a cutback lane, and that’s just a credit to everyone playing their heart out.”
Peninsula, which clinched the No. 1 seed from District 3, will host fourth-seeded Bonney Lake at 7 p.m. Nov. 16 at Roy Anderson Field. The Panthers (5-5) beat Mercer Island 44-20 on Saturday, their fifth straight win after they started 0-5. One of those losses was to Peninsula, which scored a 56-28 win at Bonney Lake on Oct. 4.
Next weekend’s game will be a launching point for one of the two teams that could face the powerful Bellevue Wolverines in the quarterfinals. Bellevue, which eliminated Peninsula last year, 40-3, will open state play against Glacier Peak this weekend.
On Saturday night, none of that mattered.
Peninsula dominated from the opening kick, a line-drive squib that the Seahawks recovered after it bounced off a Chief Sealth lineman.
Siolo took the handoff at midfield and was barely touched as he gave his team a quick 7-0 lead.
It didn’t get much better from there for Chief Sealth (4-6), which saw a shotgun snap sail over the quarterback’s head on its first play from scrimmage. Peninsula recovered, and Siolo punched it in two plays later for a 14-0 lead with only 47 seconds of game time elapsed.
“Coach tells us to get bodies on bodies, and we do what they scheme up,” said Peninsula senior Michael Garrison, who teamed with senior Zach Howard on the right side of the line to bust open large running lanes.
Juniors Zak Dobosh and Hayden Smith blocked on the opposite site, and junior Chance Blalock was at center.
Siolo called out all of his linemen as well as fellow running back and defensive lineman Major Ali, who left the game with a knee injury.
“Every time (Smith) pulled, it seemed like he took two guys out at a time,” Siolo said.
“I feel like anyone could have run those yards,” he added.
Peninsula finished with 387 rushing yards — Jared Boerner added 75 on four fourth-quarter carries — and Robert Kvinsland finished 11-of-15 passing with 120 yards and a touchdown.
Kvinsland connected with Luke Holsinger on a pretty 23-yard scoring strike that found the tight end wide open.
The Seahawks led 41-7 at halftime, and Levi Alton returned the second-half kickoff 90 yards for a score to start the running clock for the remainder of the game.
Backup quarterback Austin Kilcup rounded out the scoring with an 11-yard keeper late in the fourth.
Howard, who reflected on Peninsula’s 28-14 win over Lakes that cliched the Seahawks’ second straight South Puget Sound League championship, said it was a matter of starting quickly.
“Last week, we came out soft,” he said. “This week, our focus was on hitting hard.”
He also provided perspective on returning to the state tournament a year after 19 starters graduated.
“At the beginning of the season, with all those seniors, I felt like we weren’t going to do as good,” Howard said. “All of our guys graduated, but all the other teams had guys graduate, too.
“It comes down to, ‘Who has the heart to win it?’ That’s what makes this game special.”
Editor and Publisher Brian McLean can be reached at 253-358-4150 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brian.