KENT – Richard “Blue” Thomas IV had a homecoming to remember Friday night at French Field.
Returning to his roots, where his father Richard Thomas III was a star running back for Kentwood High School and he began his own prep career, the junior quarterback threw three first-half touchdowns to lead Eastlake High School to a 52-7 victory over the Conquerors in the Class 4A round of 32.
“It was special. When I first came down the hill over here, I was real nervous,” Thomas said, admitting he actually threw up on the field during the first quarter. “I saw the lights, and, I mean, it’s home for me. I’ve been playing here since sixth grade.”
Thomas’ father set numerous records before going on to play at Washington in the early 1990s. Blue Thomas – who earned his nickname because he was born with blue eyes – actually started at defensive back for Kentwood his freshman year, but the family moved the following summer after his mother, Christie, suffered a traumatic brain injury.
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He became the Wolves’ starting quarterback as a sophomore, but they finished just 3-6.
They’ve returned to prominence under first-year head coach Don Bartel and a more seasoned Blue Thomas.
Eastlake (8-2) plays sixth-ranked Union of Vancouver (8-2) to open the state playoffs.
Bartel praised Thomas, who also scored on a 40-yard run.
“He was exactly what we needed him to be,” he said.
And he got help from the Conquerors (7-3), who turned the ball over six times — twice in the red zone as they were threatening to score.
“We didn’t have a lot of room for error tonight, and they showed that,” coach Rex Norris said. “It snowballed on us.”
It took just 13 seconds for Eastlake to get on the board as Troy Lewis scored the first of his three touchdowns on the opening play from scrimmage, sprinting around the edge and dashing 70 yards untouched. The Wolves were up just 7-0 in the second quarter before exploding for 24 points in eight minutes — including an 87-yard catch-and-run by Lewis.
Kentwood, the top seed out of the SPSL North, trailed 52-0 before Brandon Sytsma scored on a 9-yard run with 8:02 left in the game.
Sytsma finished with 127 yards on 22 carries yards.
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