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Washington high school football: Emerald Ridge recovers to down Sumner, 3 takeaways (9/15/2023)

Jake Schakel passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns to lead the No. 3 Jaguars to a 42-28 win in Puyallup

PUYALLUP, Wash. - Third-ranked Emerald Ridge certainly has even loftier football-related goals that what it accomplished a year ago by making the Class 4A semifinals.

Staying in the hunt for a 4A SPSL title would be a nice lift-off.

Shaking off an early two-touchdown deficit, the Jaguars' offense roared to life to lead the team to a 42-28 victory over Sumner on Friday night at Sparks Stadium.

It was especially meaningful since the Spartans were the reigning league champions.

Quarterback Jake Schakel threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns - three of the scores going to Gio Kafentzis.

After trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, Emerald Ridge rallied to take a 28-21 lead on Navarre Dixon's 4-yard touchdown run (and two-point conversion pass with 2:14 to go in the third quarter.

Four minutes later, the Jaguars struck again on Schakel's 29-yard touchdown strike to Kafentzis for a 35-21 lead with 9:50 remaining.

Sumner answered on Matthew Spurbeck's 14-yard touchdown run a minute later, but the Spartans had two promising game-tying drives stall in Emerald Ridge territory in the final five minutes - the last coming on Tristen Rebar's interception at the goal-line with 71 seconds to go.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

GIO KAFENTZIS IS ONE OF THE TOP TWO-WAY PLAYERS IN THE STATE

Never mind the mid-air acrobatics and turf-juke show Gio Kafentzis was putting on display on offense Friday - he was coming up and delivering big hits, too, from his free safety position.

Kafentzis scored on touchdown catches of 19, 5 and 29 yards on his way to a nine-catch, 167-yard showing in the victory.

And if it seems he is on a bit of a redemption tour after suffering a season-ending foot injury in the WIAA quarterfinals last season against Chiawana ... well, he is.

"I don't take any day for granted," Kafentzis said. "I just go out and ball out - and take each week and know that anything can happen at any point."

As far as recruiting, Kafentzis - a senior who has not committed to a college - said he's been in keeping in touch with Nevada, Dartmouth, Utah State and Weber State.

GAME TURNED IN EMERALD RIDGE'S FAVOR ON ONE LONG PASS

Sumner jumped out to a 14-0 lead on two Rebar touchdown passes.

And the Spartans' defense was on the verge of stopping Emerald Ridge again, putting the Jaguars in third-and-long at the end of the first quarter.

But Schakel stood tall in the pocket and waited for Tony Harste to flash open down the left sideline - and delivered a dart, which turned into a 65-yard gain down to the Sumner 11-yard line with 27 seconds to go.

It led to Schakel's first touchdown pass to Kafentzis early in the second quarter - and the floodgates opened after that.

"Explosive plays are daggers," Emerald Ridge coach Adam Schakel said. "That is the part of our offense, and at any point that can happen."

SUMNER RESULT IS BOTH FRUSTRATING AND ENCOURAGING

Now that the defending 4A SPSL champion Spartans have two early-season losses already, coach Keith Ross conceded "it's a big hole" to climb out of if they want to defend their crown.

And yet, Ross was pleased with how is team played Friday, especially given how inexperienced it is in key spots (quarterback, secondary).

Rebar has certainly been a pleasant surprise in how he's handled the offense as a first-time starter. And in the past two weeks, the team has played efficiently for extended stretches, but doesn't have wins to show for it.

"I still feel we’re one of the best teams in the state," Ross said. "We’re just still making critical errors at times we can’t make them.

"We’ve got to clean some things up. We will be right there."