By RayJaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium
The Fighting Irish of O’Dea looked to continue thriving off of their home field advantage, as they entered the first round of the WIAA 3A playoffs against the Kelso Hilanders. In 2019, O’Dea beat Kelso before going on to be the 3A state runner up.
Starting the game with possession, Kelso was well on their way to score first, as they appeared to wear down the O’Dea defense. Despite moving the chains whether it was rushing, passing, or forcing penalties, O’Dea responded by forcing a turnover on downs.
The Fighting Irish capitalized upon the stop as running back Khalil Holiday rushed for a 58-yard touchdown and from that moment on O’Dea exploded.
The next possession for Kelso resulted in a fumble and was recovered by O’Dea defensive end Zach Proctor with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
58 seconds later, running back Jason Brown, Jr. scored on a 4-yard rushing touchdown and just like that O’Dea had a 14-0 lead. Although down by two scores, the Hilanders, like in their first series, began moving the chains positively again, but the Fighting Irish continued to control the line of scrimmage and force another turnover on downs.
Known to keep the ball on the ground, O’Dea opened up their playbook as Kelso began to crowd the line. Fighting Irish quarterback John Kohler dropped back and threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Joe Gallagher for O’Dea’s third touchdown of the first half.
The Fighting Irish refused to let their foot off the gas in the first half, as their defense forced another fumble that led to Holiday’s second touchdown of the game.
O’Dea’s offense scored 31 points in 24 minutes, and their defense shut down Kelso, not allowing a single score. Leading 31-0 coming out of halftime O’Dea received the ball and looked to pick up where they left off.
Upon receiving the ball, O’Dea’s offense resumed their dominance as Darien Margah scored on a 3-yard touchdown three minutes into the second half.
But Kelso wouldn’t go down without a fight, they’d end their scoring drought after 31 minutes of action on a 30-yard touchdown pass. The Hilanders with hopes of cutting the lead fizzled as they couldn’t stop O’Dea’s rushing attack.
Throughout the game five different Fighting Irish players scored for them — Jason Brown, Jr., Khalil Holiday, Joe Gallagher, Christian Winn, and Donovan Agasid.
O’Dea would go onto win 52-13 against Kelso, advancing to the next round where they’ll face Kennewick this Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.
Pictorial Highlights from O’Dea vs Kelso High School Football Playoff Game