GRANGER – In their home finale last Friday at Granger, the improving Sunnyside Christian Knights had a chance to nab their first-ever football playoff berth.
But Garfield-Palouse stood in the way, and the visiting Vikings recorded a 50-22 victory over the Knights.
As with their contest a week earlier against Colton, the Knights had a difficult time controlling the line of scrimmage due to injury.
The result was that Garfield-Palouse had its way in rolling to a 42-22 advantage at the half.
“We couldn’t stop their run,” said Sunnyside Christian Coach Ray Hernandez.
The Knight coaching staff made adjustments at the half and held the Vikes to just a single score the rest of the way. “We went to a four-man front,” Hernandez said of the successful strategy.
In fact, the only Viking score of the second half was on a play-action pass – not the run. “They got us on play action and we knew it was coming,” Hernandez said.
Despite success on defense in slowing down the Vikes, trouble in the trenches also meant troubles for the Knights on offense. Their vaunted running attack, which routinely puts up Madden-like numbers, was held to a season-low total of just 24 yards against the Vikings.
As a result, Sunnyside Christian had to rely on the passing attack with quarterback Wyatt Hoff at the helm.
Accordingly, all three of Sunnyside Christian’s scores came through the air.
In the first quarter, Hoff hit Nate Scheenstra for a 13-yard touchdown pass. In the same frame, Hoff found Brant Bosma for a five-yard scoring toss.
The Knights’ last score came in the second quarter on a 60-yard bomb from Hoff to Bosma.
With the ground game ground to a halt, Hernandez said the Knights initially had success through the air before the Vikings were able to muzzle Sunnyside Christian’s aerial attack.
For the game, Hoff completed 18-of-29 pass attempts for 296 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was Bosma, with eight catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Though a playoff run is out of the picture, Sunnyside Christian (5-4) still has plenty to play for.
Win-or-lose against Touchet this coming Thursday, the Knights will have their first non-losing season ever. A victory would give Sunnyside Christian’s eight-man football program a winning season record for the first time in its five-year history.
Hernandez says his club could also play the part of spoiler if it’s able to upset first-place Touchet.
“The idea now is to go out and have fun,” he said.