New names, same results.
The O’Dea Fighting Irish played Kelso in an early-round playoff game for the fourth time since 2013 on Friday night. And, for the fourth time the Fighting Irish rushed to a dominating, 52-13 victory in the first round of the Class 3A state football playoffs.
With the win, No. 3 seed O’Dea (8-2) advances to a quarterfinal game either Nov. 19-20 against the winner of Saturday’s first-round game between Spanaway Lake and Kennewick. Kelso (8-3) finished its season.
“The defense, once they got their feet under them, got up to game speed, they just did a nice job all night,” O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said.
Most of the damage on Friday night at Memorial Stadium was done by running backs Khalil Holiday and James Brown. Holiday ran for 117 yards and the two touchdowns on nine carries, while Brown added 67 yards and a touchdown. All but one Holiday run for 14 yards came in the first half.
“It’s amazing,” Holiday said. “Just give thanks to the O-line. They’re just great. They do their job, and that’s what we do.”
In all, 411 of O’Dea’s 435 yards of offense came on the ground, spread between 10 rushers.
“It’s those guys, and the young guys had a nice game,” Kohler said.
Back in 2013 and 2014, it was Miami Dolphin running back Myles Gaskin in the Irish backfield, running wild against the Hilanders. As a senior, Gaskin got just six carries but ran for 235 yards and four TDs in a 42-0 whitewashing on the heels of a 49-7 win in 2013.
Just two years ago, O’Dea rambled for 375 yards on the ground in a 35-0 first-round victory.
On Friday, the game changed so swiftly it might have been missed.
Kelso took the opening kickoff and drove from its own 28 to the O’Dea 11, where the Hilanders had a third-and-1. Hunter Leteer dropped back to pass but was caught in the backfield for a sack and a loss of 7 yards.
“You get down to third-and-1, you’re moving the ball,” Kelso coach Steve Amrine said. “If you don’t score against a good team, take advantage of the opportunities, they’ll take advantage of it and they obviously did.”
On fourth-and-8 from the 18, Leteer again tried to pass for the first down. He was sacked again, the third of four in the first half, as the Irish recorded a stop.
“They’re a good football team,” Kohler said. “They do a good job. That’s why they’re always here. Nice to play against. Respectful.”
O’Dea took over at its 21 on the possession change, and four plays later was in the end zone. Holiday broke through the left side of the line and sprinted 54 yards for the game’s first touchdown with 3 minutes, 43 seconds to go in the first quarter.
O’Dea, which took advantage of two first-half Kelso fumbles deep in the Hilanders own end to score 10 points, got the first turnover just over two minutes later. Set up at the Kelso 36, three Brown runs got the Irish back in the end zone. The scoring play came on a 4-yard run and put O’Dea up 14-0 with 1:02 left in the first quarter.
It was the first of five consecutive O’Dea drives that began at the 50-yard line or better. The Irish scored on the first four of those. The last, which began at the Kelso 35, started with just 25 seconds to go in the first half and did not result in even a first down.
Even with short fields, O’Dea amassed 223 yards of total offense in the first half to just 79 for Kelso. The Hilanders gained only 29 yards after the game’s initial drive.
By the time Kelso finally did get on the board, with a Zeke Smith 24-yard catch from Hunter Letteer with 7:56 to go in the third quarter, the Hilanders already trailed it 38-0.