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Highline Pirates Shine at 2022 Jamboree

It was a slow start, but once in gear, the speed of the Highline High School Pirates Football team took over, and what a show!

Four teams participated in the Jamboree: Auburn Riverside Ravens, Federal Way Eagles, Rainier Beach Vikings, and Highline Pirates. The format is simple. Each team’s offense receives an allotment of 10 plays against all three of the other teams’ defenses. Teams rotate against each other to match up; each team plays 30 offensive and 30 defensive plays during the evening.

In the 2A KingCo League, the Pirates began the night against Auburn Riverside of the Puget Sound League North 4A. Neither side moved the ball significantly. The Pirates were struggling, and the size of the Riverside players seemed to stymie the line. The speed of the Pirates’ offense could not break free from the line of scrimmage. In contrast, the Pirate’s defensive backfield and superior leaping shut down the Ravens’ throwing game. Neither team scored.

Round two matched the Pirates against the Rainier Beach Vikings from the 3A Metro League. The Vikings showed both size and speed. On their fourth play, they executed a breakaway run for a 30 yards touchdown run; the Pirates had been matched in speed and outmatched in size. But the Pirates D stiffened in the remaining Viking plays, their attitude and energy viscerally shifting as they began to fly to the ball and fill gaps. They made several excellent defensive backfields plays, knocking the ball down on long, perfectly executed throws from the Viking QB. The defensive line began to penetrate and put pressure on the Viking quarterback — you could feel the momentum building.

When it was the Pirates’ time on offense, the first couple of plays were tentative as they adjusted to the size and quickness of the Vikings. But on the 4th play, Ronan connected on a crisp 25-yard throw to La’Marques Williams and got the Pirates on the board. The Pirates gained confidence throughout the scrimmage against the Vikings, especially in the offensive line. They began to create gaps for Rico Jerez-Sosa and Jermaine Matthews Jr to shoot through, their speed and agility shining. With the offensive line establishing the run, Quarterback Ronan Rasmussen’s accuracy continued to increase, and by the end of the second round, the Pirates looked like a different team. Although a draw contest, there was no question about who had the momentum and confidence.

Round three pitted the Pirates against the Federal Way Eagles, 4A North Puget Sound League. This match was all Pirates. The Pirate defense forced a fumble on the 4th play of the Eagle’s try at offense with a well-timed punch out by Marcus Moss. After that, the Eagles could not mount any real offensive threat, and the Pirates defense gained more confidence.

When the teams switched offense and defense in the first play by the Pirate offense, it was clear that the offensive line was working together as the Pirate running backs were finding holes and blocks downfield. A breakaway touchdown run by running back Nat Clay demonstrated the strength to break tackles early in the drive, igniting the team. Running and the threat of speed coming out of the backfield opened up the throwing game. A beautifully thrown ball and the inside shoulder of Marquawn McCraney gave him space on the sideline. After a few solid moves and a couple of broken tackles, the Pirates had touchdown number 2 for this match. Rasmussen seemed to be getting his rhythm and cadence into a groove as the plays added up. The line was giving Rasmussen time, and with it, he threw a strike into the hands of McCraney again just short of the goal. On that note, the allotted plays ran out, and the contest ended.

“The line played better than expected,” said an encouraged Anthony Berg, QB Coach, and Offensive Coordinator. “We established the run game, and that opened up the pass. I could not be happier with the progress.”

Jamborees are intended to be fun while also allowing coaches to see how their team plays together and to measure themself against the competition.

The Pirates, a 2A school, played against teams from 3A and 4A schools. Each team had significantly larger players than the Pirates, and the Rainier Beach Vikings had the speed to match. Even so, the Pirates have good reason to be optimistic after this experience. Though they had a slow start, they quickly began to gel and work together, growing in confidence with each of the three scrimmages. Enthusiastic and focused, they played well together as a team, encouraging and uplifting one another. They can only get better from here!

Get ready, Pirate fans — this is going to be an exciting season!

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