The Fighting Irish picked up right where they left off last season by shutting out the Seahawks 28-0 in a nonleague matchup.
O’Dea has been waiting for this moment since capturing the Class 3A state football championship last season. They’ve been waiting to begin the road for a repeat.
“It feels good to be back on the field,” O’Dea senior tailback Mark Tafia said. “The day after we won state we were determined to come back and get it. When you’re state champions you don’t want to just lay back. You want to grind so you can go back-to-back.”
The No. 3 Fighting Irish picked up right where they left off last season by shutting out No. 10 Peninsula 28-0 in a nonleague matchup on Friday night at West Seattle Stadium.
But Tafia, who ran for 44 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, said this team isn’t the same as last year’s squad. He sees even more determination.
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“I see more because we have a chip on our shoulders,” Tafia said. “Everybody is shooting for us. We want to work so everybody knows the 2018 team, instead of the 2017 team.”
That determination was clear on Friday as the Irish ran roughshod on Peninsula, amassing 341 yards of total offense, including 257 yards on the ground with nine different rushers.
Senior quarterback Emonte Scott led the way with 84 passing yards and a touchdown to go with 30 yards and a TD on the ground.
“He just did a great job,” O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said. “He didn’t make any mistakes. He managed the offense and made some big throws. He was really good and he held us together.”
Junior Cameron Daniels spearheaded the rushing attack with 69 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
The Irish hit pay dirt on their first possession, engineering a nine-play, 61-yard drive, led by multiple first-down runs from junior tailback Cameron Daniels, who punched it in from 9 yards out.
Daniels followed the outside tackle, who sealed the edge with a reach block, then pushed his way through Seahawk defenders to put the Irish up 7-0 early in the first.
“I think we got them a little bit by surprise,” Kohler said. “We got them on their heels in the first quarter.”
The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Scott dived up the middle from 3 yards out to put the Irish up 14-0 with 2:43 left in the first quarter. That came one play after Scott connected with junior receiver Cooper Mathers for a 41-yard reception up the middle. Mathers tripped at the 3-yard line with no one between him and the end zone.
The Irish pulled ahead 21-0 when Scott tossed a bubble screen to junior receiver Davyn Patu at the right sideline. The speedy 5-foot-8, 140-pound Patu snared the ball and rocketed between defenders from 20 yards out, diving over goal line while getting wrapped around legs by two Seahawk defenders.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a touchdown, but I saw he was open,” Scott said. “It was the right read and he just made a play.”
Scott and Daniels were pulled with about six minutes to go in the third when O’Dea felt the game was out of reach for Peninsula. Backup senior quarterback Jack Anderson took over signal-calling duties for the rest of the game.
Senior halfback Mark Tafia closed out the scoring after a long drive by the Irish to run out the clock. Tafia smashed through the goal line from 1 yard out to put O’Dea on top 28-0 with 4:14 left to play.