BELLEVUE — William Wang is low-key and quiet off the football field. But on it, he is anything but that.
Wang, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound senior, provided plenty of punch as the Bellevue High School football team continued its return to glory with a 56-22 victory over Rainier Beach on Friday night in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at Bellevue High School.
Wang was a one-man wrecking crew in the dominating win, rushing 32 times for 197 yards and a career-high five touchdowns as the No. 1 seed Wolverines returned to the state semifinals for the first time since 2018.
“There were a bunch of ups and downs,” said Bellevue coach Michael Kneip, who took over his troubled alma mater four seasons ago and has led them back to prominence. “I’m really happy for these seniors. William’s is one of our leaders.
“He’s just what our team embodies. That’s toughness, the next-guy up, just doing his job and he’s selfless. You couldn’t ask for a better kid.”
Bellevue (12-0) meets the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 5 Marysville-Pilchuck (10-1) vs. No. 4 Yelm (10-0) on Saturday, Nov. 27 in the Class 3A state semifinals. It will be the school’s 16th appearance in the state semis.
The program, hit with recruiting and rules violations in 2016 by Washington Interscholastic Activities Association and stripped to two state titles in 2012 and 2013, appear poised to bring home its first state title since the last one that counted in the record books in 2011.
Bellevue rolled up 431 yards of total offense, all on the ground, in the first meeting of the two schools in the state playoffs.
Bellevue took a 35-15 lead on a 62-yard burst up the middle by Ishaan Daniels with 5:38 left in the third quarter after Beach closed with 28-15.
The No. 9 Vikings had some hope when Scott’Tre Humphrey scored on a 2-yard touchdown run over the left side with 6:58 to go in the third quarter, but after two penalties Bellevue got a big play from Daniels.
The Wolverines stretched their lead to 42-15 on Wang’s fourth TD run of the night, a 9-yarder over the right side with 1:38 showing on the clock in the third.
Beach got within 42-22 when Ellis Branca hauled in a 72-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Chance Guadiz with 2 seconds left in the third.
Another quick response — a 47-yard TD burst up the middle from Wang — pushed the Wolverines’ lead to 49-22 at the 11:11 mark of the fourth quarter. It was Wang’s fifth TD run of the night.
“He’s not a big stat guy,” said Kneip. “He probably could be leading the state in rushing. He’s so selfless that he wants other guys [like reserve running back Carson] Rubin in at the end of the games. He’s a great teammate.”
The previous state quarterfinal meeting for Bellevue in 2019 — the one before COVID wiped out postseason play for the 2020 season — was a memorable one, but not in a good way.
The Wolverines suffered a 50-21 loss to Eastside Catholic in that 2019 quarterfinal.
“These seniors all remember that,” Kneip said. “These seniors were all starting as sophomores. They remember that feeling pretty well. It’s just been about trusting the process. Tomorrow, it starts all over again and it’s zero-zero. We’re just trying to get better and healthier.
“The goal is to play our best football. You know it’s not to win a state championship. It’s to be the best version of ourselves and hopefully it all works out.”
Branca led Beach (6-4) with 114 yards receiving on 10 catches. Viking quarterback Chance Guadiz completed 23 of 35 passes for 259 yards with one TD and two interceptions.
Bellevue sophomore running back Blake Teets rushed for 103 yards and one TD on 12 totes.