With a playoff berth on the line, the Puyallup Vikings relied on the arm of Brendan Illies and the legs of Trevor Whitney to push them over the top.
Illies had a season-high seven touchdown passes and Whitney rushed for 272 yards on 40 carries in Puyallup’s 59-35 victory against Rogers on Friday night at Sparks Stadium.
The Vikings clinched the No. 4 seed from the South Puget Sound League’s South Division, and Rogers was eliminated from playoff contention.
Puyallup head coach Gary Jeffers said his team’s offense played well in all phases.
“People don’t realize it, but prior to this game, we were within eight snaps of being 50-50 with our pass-run ratio this year,” Jeffers said. “It’s been a goal of ours to be balanced. When you’ve got Trevor Whitney running the ball like he did tonight, it is great for your team. ... He just blasted it out on the ground.”
Teammates carried Whitney off the field on their shoulders following the game. He missed five games this year due to a high ankle sprain.
“This was just my second game back,” Whitney said. “I wouldn’t be able to do what I did without my linemen. They did so well tonight.”
Illies said his team was prepared for Rogers and knew what was at stake.
“We came out with intensity tonight,” he said. “Our captains gave a great pregame speech, and that really fired us all up.
“We wanted to prove to everybody that we’re the real deal. These guys on my team are my brothers. It’s amazing going through this experience with them. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Puyallup will face the Bothell Cougars, the No. 2 seed from the Kingco Conference, in a winner-to-state, loser-out district playoff game Friday night at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Jeffers, who took over the Puyallup football program in 2010, said his team hasn’t won a playoff game in the past four years.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win a playoff game,” he said. “We haven’t won a playoff game since I have been here. We want to win our first one.”
Sports Editor Shaun Scott can be reached at 253-552-7002 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_shaun.