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Mabton grid team in 'B' State playoffs

ENTIAT - Last Friday's dominating 35-7 victory over Entiat earned the Mabton High School football team a berth in this year's 'B' State playoffs.

Mabton, which lost its first two league games of the season but bounced back to win six straight in conference play, will open the postseason against the Lind-Ritzville Broncos. The Vikings' first round State playoff opponent won the Northeast 'B' League with a perfect 9-0 record. Mabton (6-2, 7-3) enters the State playoffs as the No. 3 seed out of the Central Washington 'B' League.

Mabton Coach D.J. Search said the site and date of his team's first round playoff game against Ritzville is not yet decided.

He and the Ritzville coach have already swapped game films. Search said he is optimistic his club can give the Broncos a stiff challenge.

"They're not a bad team," Search said of the unbeaten Broncos. "Speed wise, I think we match up pretty well with them. But I think we're going to be more physical than them."

In knocking off Entiat last Friday, Mabton showed it is a team that is ready for the postseason. The Vikings not only ran the ball effectively, they also weren't afraid to put it up in the air.

Mabton QB Ryan Harris completed 11-of-21 passes against Entiat, serving up only one interception while throwing for 174 yards.

"Those aren't bad numbers for high school football," said Search. "Ryan is making good decisions on the field. He's progressively gotten better as the season has gone along," Search said.

Harris' targets last Friday included Moises Gutierrez, who hauled in five passes for 77 yards. Gutierrez and Pablo Sanchez, who caught two passes for 32 yards and also rushed for 60 yards on 13 carries, each caught a touchdown pass from Harris.

On the ground, Mabton tallied 309 yards against Entiat. Junior Ray Elizondo was the workhorse for the Vikes, taking 20 hand-offs from Harris and picking up a season best 167 yards.

"It was Ray's biggest game of the season," said Search, explaining that Entiat didn't adjust to Mabton's dives up the middle. "So we just kept feeding the ball to Ray," he said.

The reason Elizondo had so much room in the middle to run, said Search, was because of the play of the Vikes' offensive line.

"Our O-line did a great job of taking care of business," Search said. "They played very hard."

Mabton opened the scoring last Friday on a 5-yard TD pass from Harris to Sanchez in the first quarter. The Vikings increased their lead to 14-0 in the second period, on a 16-yard touchdown run by Alex Zavala, who carried the ball 11 times Friday night, tallying 59 yards in the process.

After Entiat picked off a Harris pass, at Mabton's 22-yard line, the home team notched its only score of the night to draw to within 14-7.

Mabton ended any suspense that might have been left, though, when the Vikings punched in a couple of TD's in the third quarter. Zavala and Sanchez scored on runs of 4 and 2 yards, respectively. Gutierrez's five-yard touchdown catch in the final quarter accounted for the final 35-7 score.

Defensively, Search said his Vikes turned in another splendid performance.

"Other than Entiat's opening drive, when they got to our 4-yard line, and the one drive after they intercepted our quarterback, they never really challenged us again," said Search.

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