Before Saturday's game, when pressed for keys to a win, Skyline assistant coach Maui Borden kept it simple. "We need Max Browne to be Monster...
TACOMA — Before Saturday’s game, when pressed for keys to a win, Skyline assistant coach Maui Borden kept it simple.
“We need Max Browne to be Monster Max,” he said.
In what could have been the final game of his high-school football career against an explosive Camas team, Browne had one of his finest performances in leading Skyline to a 51-28 win in the Class 4A state semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
He completed 29 of 32 passes (91 percent, his most accurate game this year). He rattled off 11 straight completions to start the game. He passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and is just 9 yards from overtaking DeSales’ Brian Lindgren as the state’s career passing leader.
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He will have the chance to do so in the state-championship game. Top-ranked Skyline (13-0) will face Bellarmine Prep (12-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
“He was spot-on in making his reads,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said of Browne. “We have a couple plays where we want to attack the middle of the field if it’s there, and I didn’t even have to say anything from the sideline. He automatically knew it.”
On one touchdown, Browne floated a pass between three defenders to Austin Bui for a 14-yard score. On another play, he fired a 38-yard pass over the top to Nic Sblendorio down the sideline. The throw came with Skyline backed up at its 1-yard line near the end of the first half.
“He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen, so he’s impressive,” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “It takes a lot to beat that team.”
Third-ranked Camas (12-1) initially looked capable of thoroughly challenging Skyline. Nate Beasley rattled off a 24-yard TD run to open the game, and junior QB Reilly Hennessey hit a wide-open Zach Eagle for a 94-yard scoring pass to put the Papermakers up 14-0. Skyline’s defense, which had been solid all season, was getting gashed.
“The biggest thing was just slowing down,” Taylor said. “I think they were just a little too amped.”
Browne kept the Spartans’ offense moving, but he wasn’t even the most efficient passer on his team. Matt Sinatro, a receiver, turned two laterals into touchdown passes to Sblendorio, who had eight catches for 192 yards and three TDs.
Sinatro’s first TD pass was a 7-yarder for Skyline’s first score. But his second had the most flair. Browne bounced a backward pass to Sinatro, who acted like it was an incomplete pass before fielding it. He then fired over the top to Sblendorio for a 49-yard TD.
The Spartans had those plays in place since Week 2 against Utah’s Cottonwood and had practiced them every week since.
“They worked just like they did in practice,” Taylor said.
A week after scoring 33 straight points in a quarterfinal win over Roosevelt, Skyline topped that with 44 straight. The defense forced five turnovers, including Andrew Giese’s 31-yard interception return for a TD. And Skyline, the defending 4A champions, overcame another early hole to beat a young Camas team.
“Camas always says they’re a big junior class, but we were a big junior class last year and we had some big games,” Browne said. “Being there, it really helped us.”
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org