Skip to main content

Graham-Kapowsin flexes muscle ahead of 4A SPSL showdown with Puyallup: 5 takeaways


Eric Kurle knows he has a complete football team at Graham-Kapowsin High School, which is ranked No. 3 in Class 4A.

And even though the Eagles' offense has had no issues moving the football, they have had, at times, difficulty scoring touchdowns.

Not on Thursday. They scored on all five first-half possessions, and toppled Emerald Ridge, 49-7, in a 4A SPSL game at Sparks Stadium.

"It was better," Kurle said. "But we still make mistakes."

And Kurle knows the important of cleaning those up now as the Eagles have a league showdown next week against Puyallup.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

Nate Thomas has more than enough arm strength at quarterback - and he can run, too


It's never easy to replace the school's all-time leading passers - and one of the state's best in Dylan Morris, but senior Nate Thomas is displaying a complete skill set in his first season as the starter.

And there is something he does far better than his predecessor: Run the football.

Thomas is a natural runner, too. On Graham-Kapowsin's first play from scrimmage, he saw an opening and turned on the jets for an easy 9-yard gain.

Thomas also tossed a pair of touchdown passes in the game.

"He gets a little too excited right now, and runs like a deer," Kurle said. "But he can run. He's athletic. And he can sling it around."

Eagles use vastly different tailbacks to run one style of play - power


Kurle has had workhorse running backs in the past, but lately he has incorporated a pack of them. This year is no exception.

And they all run one play particularly well - power up the middle.

"If you run it well," Kurle said, "you are going to win football games."

Shabro Johnson heads the committee. At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, he has the speed to break a big play, and enough strength to run inside. He scored on a 52-yard gut-buster right up the middle early in the second quarter.

Read More

If the Eagles want to pound a defense for a few plays, they bring in Michael Kelley Jr. (6-2, 235), who has surprisingly nifty feet for a big man. He broke off a pair of touchdown runs, including a 62-yarder - again, up the middle.

And Jonas Waugh (5-10, 210) also gets work to make it a three-headed attack.

Every night, Eagles wide receiver Malaki Roberson does something that makes you gasp


Roberson was not only one of the top wide receivers in the 4A SPSL last season (63 catches, 895 yards, eight touchdowns), he knows there is so much more to showcase in his game.

And he did Thursday, on the best short touchdown catch you will see.

With four minutes to go before halftime, Thomas threw wide of a streaking Roberson, who somehow got his hands on the football and hauled it in for a 5-yard score.

"We were just in an open set, and I ran a corner," Roberson said. "I was expecting (the pass) to go in that direction ... and I just used my acceleration to hurry up and get to the sideline."

What did he show on that play?

"My ball instinct," Roberson said.

There's another Boston pass-catcher in Puyallup - and he has hops


Emerald Ridge has already sent on Boston brother - Andrew - to the college ranks. He is arguably the top pass catcher at Eastern Washington University as a redshirt sophomore, and just shredded the University of Washington secondary in the season opener (six catches, 112 yards, 64-yard score).

The next one up - Denzel - might be faster and more athletic.

Only a sophomore, Boston (6-3, 170) showed Jaguars coaches he should be a playmaker for years to come. He went up over Graham-Kapowsin's Malik Madison and took a 27-yard pass away from the defensive back for a touchdown in the second quarter.

"It is not the first time we've seen it," Emerald Ridge coach Adam Schakel said. "It's kind of what he does."

Tino Hansen has been making plays for years for the Eagles' defense. Now comes his kid brother on offense


Senior Valentino ("Tino") Hansen is one of the best multi-purpose defensive backs in the 4A SPSL.

Now there are two siblings on the field. Junior Va'a Hansen, a wide receiver who also comes out of the backfield, scored two touchdowns for Graham-Kapowsin - one on a 22-yard catch at the end of the first half, and the other on an 8-yard scamper early in the third quarter.

And much like his brother, Va'a Hansen has lateral quickness to squirt through tight spaces.

"He had not played in a couple of years ... but he's very special," Kurle said. "The two of them are very similar."