Kamiah guts out victory

Kamiah’s Kendrick Wheeler (center) makes a tackle during an Oct. 2 Whitepine League Division I game against Prairie.

KAMIAH — Nels Kludt had enough mud on his clothes just from standing on the sideline. His players, however, couldn’t seem to get enough of the stuff.

After slogging through a wet, cold, muddy 16-0 home win Friday, Kamiah’s players celebrated their triumph against rival Clearwater Valley with head-first mudslides at midfield. The victory was Kamiah’s first against CV since 2015, ended CV’s four-game winning streak and punched Kamiah’s ticket to the state playoffs, where the Kubs haven’t been in five years.

The win also secures Kamiah (6-2, 4-2) second place in the Whitepine League.

So there was plenty of cause for celebration, no matter how messy it got.

“It’s an absolute swamp,” said Kludt, Kamiah’s fifth-year head coach. “I don’t know how the kids even moved out there, to be honest with you.”

Kamiah scored all 16 of its points in the opening quarter, when the field conditions were their most playable. Steady rain pelted the natural-grass field during the game, making it harder to gain stable footing as it wore on. Landon Keen’s 3-yard run with 7:54 to go in the first and Gabe Eades’ 25-yard scamper at the 4:31 mark were the only touchdowns of the game.

After that, the teams mostly traded bad snaps, slips and fumbles. As the field got wetter, a tackle for loss or a first down — even a near-first down — were enough to get a loud cheer out of the crowd.

Even so, CV (5-3, 4-2) had chances to score.

The Rams lost a fumble inside Kamiah’s 5-yard line in the second quarter and, after quickly regaining possession inside Kamiah’s 10 thanks to a Kubs fumble, turned it over on downs.

Clearwater Valley rarely returned to Kamiah’s side of the field after that and finished with 92 yards of offense.

“The field was a muddy mess and we mishandled snaps and they beat us. It’s as simple as that,” CV coach Allen Hutchens said. “We couldn’t get our speed or anything going.”

Kamiah wasn’t much better in terms of total yardage (145), but achieved more chunk plays and totaled 123 yards on the ground. Keen led the way with 81 yards on 24 totes.

“We got two quick scores, which helped out a bunch because the field just got worse after that,” Kludt said. “ … Our kids ran the ball like they had to.”

Kamiah’s defense also was up to the task, racking up seven sacks and two fumble recoveries. Kolby Hix and Bodie Norman tallied 10 tackles apiece, with Norman adding five sacks.

The Kubs also forced Clearwater Valley into six turnovers on downs.

“I knew whatever team could get the most stops on defense was going to win the game,” Kludt said. “I think we had a couple more than they did.”

By the end of the game, there were multiple pockets of grassless mud on the field, and some players’ jerseys were so badly soiled, their numbers were unreadable. The slop caused a referee to slip and, at one point, Eades, Kamiah’s quarterback, wiped his hands on a teammate’s clean jersey.

Yet all Kamiah wanted to do after the game was play in the mud.

But not Kludt.

“I think the kids took care of that for me,” he said.

While Kamiah awaits its playoff opponent, Clearwater Valley is crossing its fingers that it gets in. The five conference champions from Class 1A Division I get automatic postseason berths, and the remaining seven teams are determined by MaxPreps rankings. Kamiah’s second-place finish in the ultra-competitive Whitepine League will be good enough, but the third-place Rams are on the bubble heading into the weekend.

The playoff teams will be announced Sunday.

Clearwater Valley 0 0 0 0—0

Kamiah 16 0 0 0—16

First Quarter

Kamiah — Landon Keen 3 run (Gabe Eades run)

Kamiah — Eades 25 run (Keen pass from Eades)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Clearwater Valley: Dylan Pickering 8-20, JJ Probst 2-8, Connor Jackson 1-8, Anthony Fabbi 2-6, Aiden Martinez 18-5. Kamiah: Landon Keen 24-81, Gabe Eades 3-26, Colton Sams 4-13.

PASSING — Clearwater Valley: Martinez 2-5-0—41, Probst 2-3-0—34, Fabbi 0-4-0—(-11). Kamiah: Eades 5-9-0—45.

RECEIVING — Clearwater Valley: Jackson 2-56, Ridge Shown 1-10, Martinez 1-9. Kamiah: Kolby Hix 2-30, Keen 1-8, Brady Cox 2-7.

Guernsey may be reached at mguernsey@lmtribune.com, (208) 848-2268 or on Twitter @MD_Guernsey.

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