RITZVILLE - Throw out the opening half of last Friday's first round State playoff game between Mabton and Lind-Ritzville, and the Vikings are headed to the State quarter-finals.
Unfortunately for Mabton, the first half scores tallied by the Broncos were more than enough to advance Lind-Ritzville to the next round of the State playoffs.
Playing on their home field, the Broncos built a commanding 38-0 first half lead on Mabton. Lind-Ritzville then put it into cruise control and coasted to a 45-18 victory. The Broncos advance to play in the 'B' State quarter-finals against Orcas Island, 41-0 winners over Asotin this past Saturday.
Last Friday's State playoff game was a tale of two halves for Mabton. In the first two quarters, the Vikings couldn't do much of anything right. After intermission, though, Mabton got tired of getting pushed around and began ramming the ball down the throat of the Broncos. The Vikes went on to outscore Lind-Ritzville by an 18-7 margin in the second half.
"The first half their line was blowing us off the ball," said Mabton Coach D.J. Search. "They're quick and strong.
"We couldn't see any weaknesses anywhere on their team," he added. "It wasn't fun."
Trailing by 38 at the half, Search said for the most part his club knew that the outcome of the game was already decided.
"So at halftime, we just told the kids to go back out there and do something that would make them smile on the trip back home, to do something they could smile about for the rest of the year," Search said.
As it turned out, the Mabton gridders had plenty to grin about in the second half. For one, the Vikes' defensive unit began playing assignment football and with one lone exception, kept the Broncos out of the end zone. Mabton's offensive squad also had reason to smile, as it broke off three long plays for touchdowns.
Alex Zavala and Pablo Sanchez were the workhorses for Mabton on offense. Getting strong blocking from their offensive line, the two running backs gained a total of 275 yards on the ground. Zavala ended up with two of Mabton's touchdowns, with Sanchez scoring the other TD.
"Most of the success we had running the ball came on misdirection and option plays," Search said.
Through the air, Mabton QB Ryan Harris completed 5-of-18 passes. The exact yardage Harris threw for was still in question this morning (Monday), but Search said two of his completions went for touchdowns-one to Sanchez and the other to Zavala.
Last Friday's first round State playoff loss to Lind-Ritzville (10-0) leaves the Vikings with an overall record of 7-4 for the 2004 season.
"There's no reason for our kids to hang their heads after Friday's game," said Search. "All of our kids played like warriors."