West High has certainly whirled along at an above average rate during its six-game winning streak dating back more than a month.
Friday night, moderately used senior running back Elias Roehl-Paredes took a turn hitting his own high marks on the home turf and his fellow offensive playmakers followed suit in the opener of the First National Bowl Division I football playoffs. Roehl-Paredes rushed for a team-high 90 yards, senior quarterback Josh Stoltz threw for 211 yards and four touchdowns and senior receiver Malyk Davis recorded 113 yards receiving in the second-ranked Eagles 42-6 bashing of Bartlett.
West (7-2) awaits the outcome of Saturday night’s quarterfinal matchup between South and Juneau down in the capital city. If the Wolverines win, West will host its Cook Inlet Conference rival next week in the semifinals. A Juneau victory means the Eagles pack up and head to Southeast for the semis.
No matter what, coach Tim Davis’ West program is one win shy of appearing in a seventh consecutive state title tilt.
“It’s about us,” Davis said in reference to the semifinal opponent. “We’ve got to be the best West Eagles team we can be. Regardless of who it is, we know we’re going to face a quality opponent.”
Quality was certainly job one for the Eagles in the quarterfinals. West fell behind early and then reeled off 42 straight points, including 21 in the second quarter. The home team outgained Bartlett in first-half offensive yards, 279-99.
Roehl-Paredes entered the game averaging 3.6 yards a carry and his number was called 49 fewer times than senior behemoth Niko Fa’asmasino in the Eagles’ first eight games. Each back ran the ball seven times against Bartlett and Roehl-Paredes averaged 12.8 yards per tote.
With the second quarter winding down, he scampered for a 59-yard gain and set up Fa’asmasino second touchdown, a 15-yarder, with 25.2 seconds remaining in the half. West led 28-6 at halftime.
“I felt pretty good, pretty confident,” said a slightly embarrassed Roehl-Paredes, as family and friends gathered close with video rolling. “I was told I’d get the start tonight because the coaches liked the idea of that rotation with Niko coming in.”
As for the key 59-yarder that all but ended the competitive formality of the evening, Roehl-Paredes wanted more.
“I could’ve done better and gotten the 10 more yards or whatever it was,” he said.
West’s win streak started with a 42-28 home nonconference win over Bartlett on Sept. 6.
“We’ve just been connecting as a family more and even better,” Roehl-Paredes said.
Stoltz threw two touchdowns passes in each half. Dhar Montalbo grabbed a 6-yard scoring strike, Davis two (12 and 43 yards) and Bubba Mendoza one (28 yards). The 362 total offensive yards eclipsed the team’s season average by 23.6 yards.
Bartlett (2-7) enjoyed a quick start. A.J. Lilomaiava strip sacked Stoltz on West’s initial possession and Tairel Tili recovered the fumble. Leading rusher Elijah Lilio blazed 28 yards for the Golden Bears’ lone score a few plays later.
Lilio finished with a game-high 24 carries and 123 rushing yards.
“These kids need to keep working hard,” said Bartlett co-coach John Jessen, who first started working with the Golden Bears in 1993 and spent the last six seasons sharing the head coaching mantle with Daniel Esparza. “This program has a real bright future with a lot of young kids who played a lot this year.
“We had a lot of stuff against us, one of the weirdest years I had coaching. These kids just need to stay with it.”
It’s on to the semifinals for the victorious Eagles. It’s a shot at a seventh straight win and seventh straight state championship game appearance.
“I’m more concerned with the next play,” Davis said. “We talk all the time about winning that next play. It’s hard to think about any of the other stuff.”
Matt Nevala co-hosts “The Sports Guys” radio show, Saturdays at 11 a.m. on KHAR AM-590 and FM-96.7 (@cbssports590). Find him on social media at @MNevala9.