The juice got loose against the W.F. West Bearcats.
Sumner senior running back Brandon Tuilaepa, known to his teammates and coaches as “Juice” since his sophomore year, rushed for a season-high 220 yards and two touchdowns Friday night in the Spartans’ 28-14 win against W.F. West at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Sumner (11-0 overall) advanced to the Class 2A state quarterfinal round and will face Lynden this Friday night in Bellingham.
Tuilaepa said the gameplan was simple against the Bearcats (9-2).
“Ground and pound is our motto, and we stick with it, no matter what,” he said. “I give props to them (W.F. West), because they really tried crowding the box, but it just takes one play to get us going. It’s nothing too fancy, it’s just smash-mouth football.”
Sumner head coach Keith Ross said Tuilaepa is the heart and soul of the Spartans.
“He’s our guy, and he’s been our guy,” Ross said. “He does it offensively and defensively (at free safety) and is a great team guy. He is an amazing player, and I’m glad he got to have a great game in front of this home crowd and help us win this big game.”
The Spartans’ defense put together its most complete performance of the season. Sumner sacked W.F. West quarterback Tanner Gueller six times, had two interceptions and forced the Bearcats to turn the ball over on downs five times.
W.F. West had the ball inside Sumner’s 20-yard line three times in the first half but had no points to show for it. The Bearcats scored their touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Sumner senior linebacker Austin Striplin had 2 1/2 sacks, and defensive end Zach Summers added two sacks. Striplin, the anchor of the defense, was proud of his team for beating one of the best teams in the state.
“We have a saying,” he said. “It’s called, ‘No points, no yards.’ That is what our main focus was this whole time. I think we did a really good job of covering their receivers. We knew their quarterback was really good.”
Ross said his team followed the bend-but-don’t-break philosophy he learned while he played football at Central Washington University.
“They (W.F. West) got yardage in that first half, but we never broke, and they never scored,” Ross said. “The defense just played tremendous. We’re on a roll right now.”
It will be a familiar quarterfinal this weekend for Sumner, which reached the same point last season and lost to Lynden 42-7.
“We’re so excited for the rematch,” Striplin said. “This is going to be the game of the century. I guarantee it.”
Ross said the Spartans are excited for another opportunity to face the state powerhouse.
“They’re a great team,” he said. “They have won 23 games in a row now. We’re going to be ready to go.”