The Pierce County Bengals (10-2) capitalized on two second-half interception that went for touchdowns and held the undefeated Puyallup Nation Kings (10-1) high-scoring offense in-check on their way to a 21-9 WWFA championship game victory in front a big crowd at Renton Memorial Stadium on Aug. 16.
Receiver and strong safety Junior Meade was the player of the game. Meade got his hands on a blocked punt and two interceptions for Pierce County that put a decisive 14 points on the board for the underdogs.
On the opening kick-off Kings cornerback Nico Curran recovered a fumble at the 14-yard line. After stalling-out on three plays, Puyallup opted for a field-goal attempt, but Ryan Burks’ 30-yard try was tipped at the line and fell a few yards short of the goal post.
Following a three-and-out defensive stand, the Kings got the ball back again deep inside Bengals territory. Three plays later, Kings’ quarterback Justin Southern rolled-out to his left and hit Sam Solomon in the back of the end zone and the Kings led 7-0 with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
It would also mark the final time the Puyallup offense would find the end zone.
The teams traded punts back-and-forth for the remainder of the first quarter as the defenses began to assert themselves. Lightning struck on the final punt of the quarter as Meade blocked Burks’ punt and Isaiah Martin dove on the ball in the end zone for a Bengals touchdown. It was 7-7 with 48.3 remaining in the first quarter.
The game remained tied at 7-7 until 6:09 in the third quarter. Following a punt to the five yard line by Burks, the Kings took advantage of the Bengals bad field position and swarmed quarterback Octavis Walton in the end zone for a safety. The Kings now led 9-7 and would get the ball back at their own 44-yard line following the Bengals kick-off.
Five plays later the game changed quickly as Jimmy “Butter” Burkley stepped in front of a quick pass down the line from Southern and sprinted untouched 58 yards down the field for a 14-9 Bengals lead with 3:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Three minutes later, the Bengals were forced to punt and the Kings would start work from their own 32 yard line. Six plays later, Southern dropped back from the Bengals 37 yard line and lofted a pass toward the end zone that was intercepted by Meade, who brought the ball out to the seven yard line with 2:10 left in the game.
The Kings defense forced another three-and-out by the Bengals and took over at the Bengals 43 yard line following a punt with 1:38 remaining in the game. Southern aired it out on the second play and Meade intercepted the ball at the 27 yard line.
This time Meade took it all the way back 73 yards for a Bengal touchdown and a 21-9 lead with 1:16 left in the game.
The victory marked the first WWFA title and first league championship for the Pierce County Bengals in 26 years and the enormity was not lost on head coach Ron Baines.
“I’m really happy right now,” said Baines. “I’m happy for the way that they played. The big time is where you’re at, right here, right now. I got that from Frosty Westering. The big time isn’t the big game at the end of the season. The big time is every day, every practice to get to that game.
“I’m awfully proud of them. This really is a sweet victory for me, the team and my coaches.”