LINCOLN CRUISES TO TITLE Four straight league crowns for the Abes

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Tacoma has produced some good football teams in the last few years, but when it comes to the torch-bearer for Grit City’s gridiron work, without a doubt it has been the Lincoln Abes. The resurgence of the “Rail-splitters” has been several years in the making and each year when a talented graduating class exits, there has seemed to be yet another group of talented student-athletes ready to continue this relatively new winning tradition.

When it comes to winning, the Lincoln Abes are second to none in Tacoma over the last four seasons. After capturing two 3A Narrows League titles in 2014 and 2015, the make-up of the league changed, as well as its name, and the 3A Pierce County League was born. Nothing changed on the Lincoln end, as the Abes went on to capture yet another title in 2016.

This season, the Abes have been swinging a big hammer around these parts, pushing their record to 6-0 in the PCL and 7-1 overall. Oh, and by the way, with their 62-14 throttling of a talented Bonney Lake squad on Friday, Oct. 20, Tacoma can feel the pride of yet another league championship to go on the mantle for the Abes.

If the cards fall the right way for Lincoln, and they keep on winning, they could be hosting up to three state playoff games before finally having to hit the road in the state semifinals. Even that could change, with a possible upset or two leaving the window open to a Tacoma-area 3A semi-final matchup.

Okay, we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves here, but it’s almost impossible to not look at the playoff brackets and imagine things going positive for the City of Destiny. It’s about time, isn’t it?

When the Abes rolled into Sunset Stadium in Sumner to face Bonney Lake, the Panthers were not only going to be celebrating their Senior Night, but it was also Homecoming. With a huge home crowd on hand to greet the powerhouse Abes, there was the feeling in the air that this game had the potential of going sideways on Lincoln. After running off three consecutive shutouts, it was easy to see the possibility of the Abes having an off night. It happens to the best, and the Abes hadn’t really suffered one of these games yet this season.

Well, that little scenario wasn’t going to become anything close to reality.

The Abes were set to receive the opening kick-off and the Panthers decided to go with a little squib kick. It ended up being a very bad decision as Lincoln senior Kavon Holden scooped up the ball and blew through and past the Bonney Lake defense for a 73-yard Abes’ touchdown. With just a handful of seconds ticked off of the scoreboard, the Abes were already cruising at 7-0.

As it did for the majority of the night, the Lincoln defense went into junkyard dog attack mode as soon as Bonney Lake hiked the ball for the first time. After two Panther series that ended with a three-and-out, the Abes’ offense got back to business. Facing second-and-four from their own 34-yard line, Tristian Kwon took a hand-off, burst past the Panthers’ first line of attack and then sprinted between and past two defensive backs. A few seconds later, Kwon and the Abes were celebrating a 66-yard touchdown run. With 2:46 remaining in the first quarter, the Abes were leading 14-0.

Bonney Lake would dig deep midway through the second quarter and put together a 14-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a fourth-down pass completion to senior Brayden Tressler from one-yard out. Lincoln’s lead was now cut to 14-7 with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter.

After holding the Abes on offense, Bonney Lake got the ball back with plenty of time left in the second quarter to make another dent in Lincoln’s lead. The positive momentum was quickly snuffed out when Lincoln senior defensive lineman Ezekial Sayavong snared a pass at the line of scrimmage and rumbled all the way to the Bonney Lake 30-yard line. Lincoln would waste no time adding numbers to the scoreboard as sophomore quarterback Caden Filer found junior receiver Mykel Campbell open downfield and the two connected for a 30-yard touchdown strike. Lincoln now led 21-0 with 3:57 remaining in the second quarter.

After another Bonney Lake three-and-out, Lincoln senior quarterback Jaylen Antoine hooked up with senior receiver Nick Goss for a 44-yard bomb that put the Abes within sniffing distance of the end-zone yet again. Lincoln then worked the ball to the Bonney Lake 11-yard line, when Antoine found Kwon releasing out of the backfield and down the sideline wide open. Kwon hauled in the pass at the back corner of the end-zone. Lincoln took their 28-7 lead into the locker rooms.

Things went from bad to worse for the Bonney Lake offense to open the third quarter. An interception by senior linebacker Alex Gillies had the Abes back in business. When Kwon took a hand-off and bolted around the end, it was going to be a race to the pylon. No one was going to be able to match the 2016 All-City selection, as he dove and extended the ball over the orange marker. Lincoln now led 34-7 with still 10:58 left in the third quarter. Things were looking ugly for the Panthers.

After another three-and out generated by the swarming Lincoln defense, the Abes took over on their own five-yard line. A couple of big runs by Kwon and Antoine had the Abes all the way out to the Bonney Lake 45-yard line. Lincoln sophomore Abner Sio then took a handoff and rumbled around the corner, where he then kicked it into another gear and raced to the end-zone untouched. Lincoln now led 41-7 with 7:01 remaining in the third quarter.

On the next possession, Bonney Lake made some nice headway, crossing into Lincoln territory, only to fumble the ball away. Lincoln would make the most of the situation, yet again, and marched right down the field. A two-yard touchdown run over the left side by Kwon pushed the Lincoln score to 48-7 with 5:17 still remaining in the third quarter.

The rout was on, and it was moving quickly for Lincoln. The final score of 62-14 was well-earned by both sides of the ball for Lincoln, as well as a strong showing by their special teams. Kwon would finish with four touchdowns and 185 yards rushing on the night.

The regular season wraps up for the Abes on Friday, Oct. 27, when they host their crosstown rivals, the Stadium Tigers at 7 p.m. Area football fans may remember that Stadium upset the Abes last season to take the Grit City bragging rights for the year. The Tigers were looking as though they may challenge for the PCL title a month ago, but three consecutive heartbreakers have pushed the Tigers down to fourth place in the standings.

However, fortune is smiling upon Stadium yet again this season. Last year saw the Tigers qualify for the playoffs for the first time in school history. Well, Tacoma has its second team locked into the playoffs, as the Tigers have sewed up the fourth and final seed to the playoffs with Lincoln’s victory, as well as their own victory over Bonney Lake a month ago.

The Puyallup Vikings have secured the 4A South Puget Sound League title and they are looking like a juggernaut. They will host the Bellarmine Lions on Friday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at Sparks Stadium. It is a “do or die” situation for the Lions. If they win, they will secure the fourth and final SPSL spot into the playoffs. A loss would drop them into a tie with Olympia, who wins out due to their early-season victory over the Lions.

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