Eatonville senior Max Henley (10) celebrates with his team after recovering a Centralia fumble in the end zone for the Cruisers’ fifth touchdown.
In a thrilling Friday night showdown under the bright lights, the Eatonville Cruisers took down the Centralia Tigers 44-21, securing their first victory of the season and delivering a momentous win for first-year coach Rex Norris.
The Cruisers (1-1 overall) were impressive, scoring in every quarter and leaving no doubt about the potential for the season ahead.
The game got off to an explosive start, with the Cruisers making their presence felt in the first half, scoring four times.
How it happened
Quarterback Hunter Klumpar was at the helm of the offense, orchestrating a remarkable display. He threw for 126 yards on 5-of-9 attempts, connecting for three touchdowns.
Running back Dylan Norman showcased his versatility, rushing for 53 yards on 10 carries and contributing not only with his legs but also with his arm. Norman ran in a 2-point conversion and added another through a pass. He didn't stop there, as he played an integral role on defense, recording six tackles.
The offensive fireworks didn't end with Klumpar and Norman, as Logan Shipman added two touchdowns, one through a rushing play and another through a reception. The scoring frenzy continued with Ky Nation, Michael Stogsdill, and Oscar Lopez-Diaz each finding the end zone, contributing to a well-rounded offensive attack.
On the defensive side, Max Henley shone brightly, recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and making a crucial tackle for a loss. Payton Hanly led the team in tackles with nine, anchoring the defense.
After the victory, head coach Rex Norris expressed his elation over the team's performance and his first win at Eatonville.
"I learned a long time ago that it is always good to win and it is important to celebrate every victory,” Norris said. “I also think that it validates the things our coaching staff is trying to do and teach the players. The players were excited and want to do that more often and now to see some of those lessons come to pass is good for our program. We were very excited to get a lot of players on the field in a winning effort. We feel that getting them on the field in a varsity game creates more growth at every level. Give credit to our upperclassmen for getting the program in a position to do that for our younger players."
Norris also spoke about the visible improvement across all facets of the game.
“There were a lot of lessons in Game 1, for sure. As a staff, we focused on some of the foundational principles and the kids showed improvement in those areas. It was a short week, so we felt we could move the needle more if we just did that and didn't change much. Getting better was the focus. We did find more areas of improvement after this week, so we will be focused on that heading into Week 3 against Cascade Christian,” Norris said.
With their first win under their belts, the Cruisers will look to carry their momentum into their game against the Cascade Christian Cougars (2-0) at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 16). The game will take place at Sunset Stadium in Sumner.