Football: Highline beats Renton in heated league championship game

It was a heated matchup between 18th-ranked Highline High School Pirates and the 26th-ranked Redhawks of Renton High School. The winner would be named KingCo 2A league champions.

Highline entered the game with the third highest scoring 2A offense in the state, averaging 43 points a game, only trailing Enumclaw and North Kitsap in that category. The high-powered offense of the Pirates was also complemented by a stellar defense. The Highline defense allowed 1.1 points a game in their last six games. They allowed a single touchdown to Lindbergh on Oct. 14. Besides their one loss to Kennedy, which scored 41, Highline has shut out every single team they have played.

Renton had their work cut out for them after starting the season 2-2. Renton went on to win five out of their next six games, giving them a 5-0 conference record. Renton was looking to win their first division title since 2007.

Neither team has played a difficult schedule by any means. According to the Rating Percentage Index (RPI), Highline has the third easiest schedule in 2A, while Renton had the 18th.

The Pirates jumped out early, popping a 58-yard touchdown run from senior Rico Jerez-Sosa. Highline wouldn’t take much time to add to that lead. On the responding Renton drive, they took the ball into Pirate territory and fumbled on the 38 yard line.

The next scoring play was from junior Jamaine Matthews Jr., who upped his teammates’ previous scoring play by three yards. Matthews broke a 61-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 14-0, all Pirates.

Renton was able to bounce back and cut into the Highline lead. The longest play of the half for the Redhawks a 39-yard run from junior G’Mir Green to put Renton inside the 10 yard line. A five-yard pass from junior Jesse Holmes to senior Noah Stewart got Renton on the board. With the extra point missed, the score was 14-6 in favor of Highline.

Before halftime, Highline got on the board three more times. A 42-yard touchdown reception from four star recruit Marquawn McCraney was sandwiched by two Josiah Maginniss field goals from 22 yards and 38 yards out. The halftime score was Highline 28, Renton 6.

The Deontae Cooper-led Pirates started with the ball in the second half, and on fourth and goal, the Renton defense stood tall and denied entry into the endzone. On the subsequent drive, Renton was picked off by McCraney, who returned it 97 yards. But a blocking penalty on the return negated the points. The third quarter went scoreless.

Renton seemed to have slowed down the high-powered offense of Highline. Early in the fourth quarter, a bad snap and a negative run play gave the Pirates a third and 35 from their own 35 yard line. On that play, sophomore Ronan Rassmussen found McCraney on the far boundary. McCraney broke a tackle and used his breakaway speed to not only convert on third and 35, but also put six more points on the board.

But then came the Redhawks after a kick return got them near midfield. Patrick Turner broke free and tightened up the score with a 52-yard run. The score midway through the final quarter was 35-13.

Hghline’s offense continued to gash Renton down the stretch after a 41-yard run from junior Naphtali Clay put the Pirates on the one yard line. Rico Jerez-Sosa cashed in with his second touchdown of the night. After the two point conversion, the score was 43-13, seemingly out of reach of the Redhawks.

On the ensuing kickoff, a fumbled kick return by Renton gave the ball to Highline at the Redhawks’ 11. On the very next play, McCraney got into the endzone once more, and with the extra point, Highline reached the 50 point mark.

Renton was able to score one more time in the final minute to end the scoring with the final score, losing to Highline, 50-20.

The game was very chippy at the end of the contest, with Highline accumulating seemingly all of the personal fouls. At the end of the game, Renton did not shake the hands with their opponent and proceeded to immediately walk into the lockerroom once the clock hit triple zero. When reaching out to Renton High School, the coach declined to comment.

Regardless, both teams will be in the district tournament. If they meet again, tempers may flare even more.

Renton opens their postseason against the Vikings of North Kitsap. For Highline, their season continues against Orting High School at Highline Memorial Stadium.