The Puyallup Nation Kings drive for another Western Washington Football Alliance championship is alive and well after a 51-0 thumping over the Wenatchee Valley Rams on Saturday, July 29, at Chief Leschi Stadium. With their sights set on a third consecutive title, the Kings are inching closer to cementing their status as that of a dynasty.
Having now reached the WWFA semifinals, the Kings seemingly have a smooth track to putting their gloves around the championship trophy again. However, after the Renton Ravens pulled off a shocking 34-28 upset of the undefeated Arlington Grizzlies in the WWFA quarterfinals, there is no way that the Kings are going to be looking past a Ravens squad that always seems to give Puyallup a bit of trouble.
The other WWFA semifinal has also been set as the Tri-City Rage will face the South Sound Nighthawks in what is bound to be a scorching hot game in Kennewick on Saturday, Aug. 5. Temperatures are currently predicted to range close to 105 degrees at kickoff. To create the semifinal matchup, Tri-City knocked off the Spokane Wolfpack 27-12 in one quarterfinal, while the Nighthawks clipped the Cowlitz Cobras by a score of 37-14.
So how do these teams matchup against the Puyallup Nation Kings? The Rage paid a visit to open the Kings’ season on May 20, and it didn’t go well for the visitors. Puyallup crushed Tri-City by a score of 54-10. The following week, Puyallup travelled north to face the Renton Ravens and the outcome wasn’t much better for the Kings’ foes. Puyallup dismantled the Ravens by a score of 40-13.
It should be noted that Puyallup starting quarterback Adam Kruse didn’t play in either of those blowouts. The Kings’ signal caller has only suited up for the past five games for the Kings. In that time, Puyallup is averaging an incredible 54.2 points per game. Renton is going to have their hands full not only trying to keep the Puyallup offense off the scoreboard, but also trying to keep the Puyallup defense off the scoreboard. The Kings’ defensive backfield has a penchant for returning interceptions all the way for touchdowns. Often the only thing slowing down those touchdown returns are yellow flags that soar into the air due to bad blocks on the returns.
There’s a good chance that had the Kings held off on the penalties against the Wenatchee Valley Rams in the quarterfinals, they may have had a shot at topping 80 points.
The Rams entered Chief Leschi Stadium on Saturday, July 29, looking very similar to the squad that paid a visit on June 10. This would be a problem for Wenatchee, because they only suited up 18 players for that 19-0 loss, and if your team has players going after it on both sides of the ball against the Kings, there’s no two ways around it, your team is going to get exhausted.
It was apparent from the opening whistle that pretty much the only thing that was going to slow the Kings down on the day, would be the Kings themselves. After settling for a field goal to open the game, the Kings defense snuffed out anything the Rams could put together on offense. To be honest, the Rams obviously had a game plan set on grinding out the clock on offense, while setting their pass rushers loose in the Kings’ backfield. Other than that, Wenatchee wasn’t going to be offering up much else.
When running back Donald McKee smashed across the goal line for Puyallup’s first touchdown, it felt like the score was quite a bit bigger than 10-0. Just over two minutes later, cornerback J.J. Beckham snatched an underthrown Wenatchee pass and returned the ball 41 yards for another Kings’ touchdown. Puyallup led 16-0 with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.
Puyallup would have had the ball back four plays later on an interception, if not for a targeting penalty called in the secondary. It didn’t matter though, as the defense stiffened and the Rams turned the ball over on downs. The Kings would then put together a quick, 59-yard drive, capped by a 37-yard scoring strike from Kruse to receiver Mike Waller. Puyallup now led 23-0 with 11:55 remaining in the first half.
The Rams did a good job of chewing some time off the clock for the remainder of the second quarter, keeping Puyallup off the scoreboard until the waning seconds of the half. With 23.1 seconds left on the clock, Kruse launched a laser to the back of the end-zone, finding receiver Dashun Salgado, who got one foot down before going out of bounds. Puyallup would take a 29-0 lead going into the locker rooms, and it was clear that Wenatchee was not only wore out, but they had also given the Kings the best shot they had.
It wasn’t going to be enough though, even with a running clock, Wenatchee was unable to keep Puyallup out of the end-zone, giving up scores from both sides of the ball. The 51-0 final score seemed a little light, considering the beat down that occurred on the field for 60 minutes.
Puyallup (8-0) will host the Renton Ravens (5-4) at Chief Leschi Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 5, at 6 p.m. The winner will advance to the WWFA championship the following Saturday.