Football comes out firing in the second half against Emerald Ridge to finish off the season on a high note


Tanner C Pierce, Sports Editor

Puyallup, WA- Luke Holcomb dropped back and connected with Jordan Dwyer on the out route right at the goal line to convert on fourth-and-goal on the Vikings’ first drive of the second half.


That play was the first pound of the nail in the coffin for the Puyallup football team in its 

48-14 routing of Emerald Ridge in the final game of the season. 


Here are 3 observations:


Vikings first-half jitters showed no signs of hanging around


For Puyallup, they came into this game feeling like they should win, but some first half jitters made things look interesting heading into halftime locked at 14 apiece.


“We were kind of flustered,” senior quarterback Luke Holcomb said. “I mean, we thought we were going to come out with a win easily, and got in that mindset and fell behind. We gave them hope and they kind of fed off of that.”


Those jitters were nowhere to be found in the second half though, as the Vikings settled in and closed out the game with 34 unanswered points. 


It wasn’t just the Viking offense that dominated in the second half. The defense, led by senior defensive back Marquel Pressley-Thomas, looked like a totally different personnel. 


Pressley-Thomas was a part of what seemed like almost every play in the second half and was a key factor in shutting down Emerald Ridge receiver Denzel Boston who couldn’t be stopped in the first half.


“Everyone did their jobs like they said they would and we finished strong,” Pressley-Thomas said.


The Holcomb era in Puyallup has officially come to an end


Throughout the 1980s and ‘90s the Huard brothers; Damon, Brock, and Luke, were a quarterback legacy at Puyallup High School most thought couldn’t be replicated.


That was until 2014, when Nathaniel Holcomb made his first start at quarterback for the Vikings as a sophomore. Nathaniel set the state record for most touchdowns in a single game in 2016, and got the Puyallup program headed back in the right direction. Following his senior year, Jacob Holcomb, the middle brother took the reins, and in his two years as a starter won just as many SPSL titles, led the Viks to a third place finish in state, and was named the Gatorade Washington Player of the Year his senior year. Then it was Luke’s turn to show what he had. With Luke at the helm of the offense last season the Viks made a run into the state playoffs, and this year he looked to be the best quarterback in the SPSL.


The Puyallup High School football program has been a big part of the Holcomb family, not only developing them as players, but also as young men.


Dude, it’s everything man,” Luke said.  “You know they helped us grow as players. Coach Jeffers has been a great coach, been a great mentor. This program has meant so much for us, we couldn’t thank them enough.”


As for head coach Gary Jeffers and the Puyallup program, it’s going to be tough to see the Holcombs go. 


“It’s going to be a big loss,” Jeffers said. “That consistency over time has been such a big deal.”


The longest short season ever has officially come to a close


“It’s been a really long season even though it’s been short because we’ve been going since June 1 so I think we’re all a little worn out,” Jeffers said.


In June, the Vikings were hoping for a football season in the fall and it seemed like that might have been the case. That was until the WIAA announced in August that all sports would be pushed back until the new calendar year. Time went on, and it looked like that season may not even happen as COVID-19 seemingly was getting worse. Then, Jan. 28 rolled around, when the Puget Sound region moved into phase two of Governor Inslee’s “Healthy Washington” plan, which cleared the way for football to officially take place. 


Eight months of up and downs, and not knowing what was next, mixed with having to wear a mask at all times, having to practice in pods, and other health precautions, took a heavy toll on the athletes and coaches, but they dealt with the situation as best as they could.


“I think our kids stayed focused and worked hard the whole time,” Jeffers said.


For the seniors, this season was even more special. All they wanted was to be able to get one more chance to be out on the field with their brothers, and they finally got that.


“It meant a lot, I mean we got our senior season which is really what we wanted,” Marquel Pressley-Thomas said.  “I mean we didn’t get our fans the first couple games, but we were playing the game we love and we were glad to be out here.”


This team, led by the seniors, would have definitely made a run late into the playoffs, but a 6-1 record, with their only loss coming from Graham Kapowsin in the game that eventually decided the SPSL league title, the perennial honor in this shortened season, was still a successful way to go out.


“I’m just so happy for our seniors that they got a season and I think a pretty positive one at that,” Jeffers said


In a year like no other, being able to play out on the field in what would be the last time for most, was the perfect ending.


“It’s meant everything man,” Holcomb said.  “You know we’re just blessed to have a season. It’s kinda sad that it’s over so soon but we’re just glad that we had the chance to come out and play.”