Nothing went right in the first half for Sammamish Friday night.
They snapped a ball over their quarterbacks head for a turnover. They allowed a blocked punt. They had a field goal attempt blocked and returned for a touchdown.
Yes, things went off the rails early for Sammamish against Juanita. All the early game troubles carried over to the second half, and Juanita won running away, 58-0.
“It culminated with a lot of things going bad, and going bad, and going bad,” said Sammamish coach Brian Tucci. “And it just started snowballing.”
No.7 Juanita (4-0, 2-0 KingCo 3A/2A) scored every which way in the first half. Their quarterback, Derek Kaufman, scrambled 10 yards for the opening score. Senior running back Jeremiah Laufasa found the end zone on a 4-yard run one play after the Totems snapped a ball over quarterback Andrew Engles’ head for a 46-yard turnover. Younger brother Darrin Laufasa scampered 14 yards for a touchdown two plays after the Rebels blocked a Sammamish punt. After Jeremiah Laufasa scored his second rushing touchdown (this one a 26-yarder), Juanita blocked Chris Lider’s 42-yard field goal attempt and Charles Benjamin scooped up the ball and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown.
By the time Kaufman hit University of Washington recruit Jarrett Finau for a 59-yard touchdown pass, Juanita had a 45-0 lead going into the half and the Totems heads were spinning.
While everything was going wrong for Sammamish, every single thing went right for the Rebels.
“The first three weeks we saw a lot of our kinks and that had a lot of frustrating early season stuff,” said Jeremiah Laufasa. “We fixed all of our problems this week. It was great to see everyone clicking and playing fast – finally playing to what we know we can do.”
Juanita played its backups in the second half with the clock running and managed to score three more times, the first coming on a 41-yard field goal by junior kicker Colton Blaisdell that would have been good from 50 yards.
What happened in the game’s final minutes was a few moments of intrigue in a blowout game: Juanita sophomore D.J. Sego scored on a 27-yard touchdown run, then scored again on the Totems first offensive play following the kickoff on a 20-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.
“That kid has a lot of speed,” said Juanita coach Shaun Tarantola. “It’s great seeing him get success on the field because he’s got a bright future in our program for sure.”
Juanita’s defense allowed Sammamish just 56 yards of total offense and did not allow Engles to complete a pass on five attempts. The Rebels forced Sammamish (0-4, 0-2 KingCo 3A/2A) to turn the ball over six times.
“We emphasize turnovers and protecting the football,” Tarantola said. “Our goal is to always end each game plus-4. Because we did that, Monday, coaches are going to get a little conditioning. It’s a little more incentive for them to go out and get the football.”
Tucci said once things started to go wrong, his players started pressing to make up – getting caught up in trying to compensate and struggling more.
“That’s a fantastic football team,” Tucci added. “They were doing so many things right, I can’t even think of things they should work on.”