The question of whether Yelm was a genuine contender for Class 3A was long ago dismissed.
The tornadoes have answered that question time and time again this season.
With win after win in last week’s quarterfinals against Kennewick, Yelm won a close game for the first time in a long time.
“Kennewick has size, toughness and skill,” said Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo. “They’re by far the toughest defense we’ve seen all season.”
In addition to their battle against Kennewick, the Tornados had to deal with a number of injuries and illnesses across the team last week.
Ronquillo said that just shows how resilient his team is.
Despite a tough opponent and struggling players, the Tornados found a way to secure a win and are now competing in a state semifinals for the first time in school history.
Yelm has come here with an amazing number of pure athletes on the team.
The Tornados are led by quarterback Damien Aalona, athlete Kyler Ronquillo, linebacker Ray Wright and running back Brayden Platt.
The four teamed up to run over, past, and through every single team that lined up on the other side.
So what exactly separates this year’s Yelm team from those last year who never made it this far? Jason Ronquillo said it’s all about preparation this season.
“As long as athletes are willing to properly prepare for their next opponent, the sky is the limit,” he said. “(It’s just) one day at a time.”
Yelm goes into the semifinals with a 12-0 record against defending champion Bellevue. The Tornados have outplayed their opponents by a paltry 648-110.
“It’s been an incredible run so far, but our boys have their eye on the final prize,” said Jason Ronquillo.
CLASS 3A LIVE MOUNT
Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual players, prospects and score predictions, of this weekend’s 2022 WIAA Class 3A soccer semifinals.
NO. 3 O’DEA FIGHTING IRISH (10-1) at NO. 2 EASTSIDE CATHOLIC CRUSADERS (11-0)
Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, Seattle
Statistical Leaders: For O’Dea — QB Luke D’Anna (44-77, 679 yards, 10 TDs), RB Jason Brown Jr. (179 carries, 1,539 yards, 19 TDs), RB Christian Winn (48 carries, 386 yards, seven TDs). ). ), LB Brendan Murphy (83 tackles, 1.5 sacks), LB Xavier Agasid (41 tackles, one sack). For Eastside Catholic — QB Brady McKelheer (128-224, 2,113 yards, 21 TDs), RB Masen Uribe (130 carries, 848 yards, 10 TDs), RB Richie Fotualii-Aliifua (70 carries, 492 yards, 14 TDs), WR Jayden Reyes (36 catches, 522 yards, four TDs), WR Branden Ganashamoorthy (26 catches, 536 yards, six TDs), TE Gabe Hoffmann (29 catches, 458 yards, four TDs), and LB David Lene.
What to look out for: O’Dea will look to make up for his only loss of the season this week with another fight against Eastside Catholic on deck. The two teams met in Week 5 and Eastside Catholic won in a 24-17 thriller. The Fighting Irish and Crusaders know each other well so expect another close game that could get to the point. The last time O’Dea and Eastside Catholic met in the playoffs was the 2019 state title game — a 20-12 Crusaders win.
Choose: O’Dea, 20-17
NO. 5 BELLEVUE WOLVERINES (9-2) at NO. 1 YELM TORNADOS (12-0)
1 p.m. at Art Crate Field, Spanaway
Statistical Leaders: For Bellevue — QB Lucas Razore (27-53, 654 yards, 15 TDs), RB Carson Rubin (143 carries, 1,234 yards, 20 TDs), ATH Ishaan Daniels (64 carries, 1,059 yards, 15 TDs; nine catches, 237 yards , four TDs), TE Hogan Hansen (eight catches, 178 yards, six TDs), LB George Kruger (80 tackles, one sack, 8.5 TFL). For Yelm — QB Damian Aalona (139-196, 2,166 yards, 26 TDs), RB Brayden Platt (85 carries, 1,013 yards, 21 TDs), ATH Kyler Ronquillo (59 carries, 553 yards, nine rushing TDs; 47 catches, 732 yards, nine TDs; 602 return yards, one TD), RB William Carreto (63 carries, 752 yards, nine TDs), LB Ray Wright (97 tackles, 17 TFL, five sacks, four INTs), LB Isaiah Patterson (89 tackles , 16 TFL, 10 sacks), DL Onyx Carter (43 tackles, 13 TFL, nine sacks).
What to look out for: What better way to earn your first appearance in a state championship game than by taking out the defending champion? Yelm will have to do that. The Tornados have made it easy with every opponent this season through last week. Bellevue pulled off an exciting comeback win over Lincoln. Both teams go into the semi-finals with a lot of momentum. The difference could be how Yelm’s talented linebacking corps deals with the Wolverines’ punishing Wing-T offense.
Choose: Yelm, 35-34