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Henry Mercado-led Kamiakin bounces No. 9 Richland out of first place in the MCC with 43-15 road victory

Braves put this game away early with 28 first-quarter points as Mercado passes for 219 yards, four touchdowns.
2021-09-09 at 11.19.36 PMkamiakin-chiawana-football-washington-mcc 11

RICHLAND - Henry Mercado was being cautious Friday night.

The Kamiakin quarterback tossed four touchdown passes to lead the visiting Kamiakin Braves over the ninth-ranked Richland Bombers 43-15 in Mid-Columbia Conference play.

"This is just Week 3," said Mercado, a senior. "It’s a big game. But we’ve still got six games to go."

Well, yes. That takes care of the regular season.

But then there are the playoffs. And by the looks of what the Braves are doing, they should be a force to reckon with in the postseason.

This contest was billed as a major MCC showdown, with both Kamiakin and Richland coming in at 2-0.

The Braves were coming off a 46-24 rout of Chiawana last week, while the Bombers had two shutouts — 51-0 over Pasco, and 56-0 over Hanford — entering Friday’s contest.

And it was over after 12 minutes. One quarter was all it took for Kamiakin to run away, scoring 28 unanswered points.

Mercado had three touchdown passes – 11 yards to E.J. Hawkins, 13 yards to Luis Salgado, and 27 yards to Aidan Canada. Salgado added a 44-yard touchdown romp as time expired in the first quarter.

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And the whispers are getting louder that maybe this team is better than last year’s version that had Tuna Altahir, Woodley Downard and Messiah Jones sign with Eastern Washington University.

"We didn’t know how good we’d be," Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “We lost the Big 3, but we knew we had a lot of good talent back. We started working out with them this summer, and some of us coaches started looking at each other and saying ‘These guys are really good.’ We have a lot of fun coaching them, and they love coming to practice."

For the second consecutive week, Kamiakin also found a defensive standout to become an offensive star. Last week, it was cornerback Gabe Tahir, who added wide receiver to his resume and caught four passes for 140 yards and a score

On Friday, Hawkins the linebacker - who ended up blocking a Bombers punt out of the end zone for a safety - spent more time a wideout and ended up catching five of Mercado’s passes for 99 yards, two of them all-out dives for 38 yards and then 34 yards, and with a Richland defensive back draped all over him both times.

"I’ve been trying to say, 'Look my way,'" said Hawkins with a laugh. "Me and Henry, we’ve been working a lot together."

Salgado scored three touchdowns, and rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries to keep the Richland defense honest. Canada added a second TD catch from Mercado for 7 yards.

Yet everyone agrees it all starts with Mercado (13-of-18, 219 passing yards, four TDs), who is in his third season as a starter.

"His composure is perfect," Hawkins said. "He knows when to be patient back there in the pocket. He and (Chiawana’s) JP Zamora are pretty comparable."

Biglin, who believes Mercado is the best quarterback in the MCC, agrees.

"Henry does a great job of distributing the ball," Biglin said. "He really understands the offense. He’s also got better at running the football."