Game Recap September 21, 2016

Bomber Coach and Players Overcame All Adversity

Seattle Times: December 5, 1999
Author: Danny O'Neil

TACOMA - Lonnie Pierson's shirt was soaked.

Except it wasn't Gatorade or ice water that got the Richland football coach wet. Pierson was soaked because he had just hugged every member of his Bomber team after its 21-18 victory over Kentwood in the Class 4A state-championship game last night at the Tacoma Dome.

"I'm covered with these guys' sweat," Pierson said.

That was fitting because the Bombers' playoff run started with the team's promise to play for their coach. The Bombers (13-1) dedicated their first two games to Pierson, who underwent surgery on Nov. 5 to remove his prostate after being diagnosed with cancer before the season.

Pierson's surgery was performed the same day his team beat Southridge of Kennewick 31-7 to win the Big Nine title. Pierson helped prepare for the Bombers' first two playoff games by studying film and making phone calls, but he couldn't be at the victories over Mount Spokane and Mead.

It wasn't until after the victory over Mead that the team learned he was suffering from cancer. The players only knew their coach needed an operation.

"I told them the rest was personal," Pierson said. The team didn't ask questions. It just played.

"The first couple of playoff games were for him," senior Ryan Lukson said.

Pierson was waiting for his team at school after the victory over Mead. Lukson said some players cried when Pierson told them he had cancer.

He coached from the press box in playoff victories over Shadle Park and Bethel. Last night, he was on the sideline for the first time since his surgery.

And he watched his team show the heart to overcome adversity.

Lukson suffered a knee injury at the end of Kentwood's first series.

He was diagnosed with a torn medial-collateral ligament.

"I could feel it flopping out of place if I stepped wrong," Lukson said.

The team doctor cleared him to play on offense in the second half, but the Bombers still stalled. Richland led 14-3 at halftime, but went three-and-out on its first three possessions of the third quarter.

On the last series, the frustration boiled over. Quarterback Adam Oakes and running back Michael Richardson shouted at each other after there was confusion on a handoff.

Kentwood scored on its next possession on John Gardenhire's 52-yard run to cut Richland's lead to 14-10.

"We felt that we had lost the momentum," Oakes said. "People were getting hot, and giving up. We weren't used to this environment. We've been playing in the cold."

The Bombers regrouped for two final TD drives. The first was the game-winner, capped by Landon Kafentzis' 34-yard down run. The second was the game-clincher, on which Oakes converted a critical third-down play with a 14-yard completion to Kafentzis.

Oakes was 4-for-4 passing for 45 yards in those final two drives.

"Situations bond you," Pierson said. "Difficulties, challenges or things to be overcome bring you closer. Families are that way and we think of our team as a family."

  • December 4, 1999
  • Richland Bombers
  • Kentwood Conquerers
  • 1st Quarter
  • Field Goal: Justin Hughes 25 yards
    Kentwood 3, Richland 0
  • 2nd Quarter
  • Touchdown: Rance Reed 1 yard run (kick good)
    Richland 7, Kentwood 3
  • Touchdown: Landon Kafentzis 1 yard run (kick good)
    Richland 14, Kentwood 3
  • 4th Quarter
  • Touchdown: John Gardenhire 52 yard run (PAT good)
    Richland 14, Kentwood 11
  • Touchdown: Landon Kafentzis 34 yard run (kick good)
    Richland 21, Kentwood 11
  • Touchdown: Ryan Scott 29 yard catch (Hughes kick)
    Richland 21, Kentwood 18

Saturday December 4, 1999 Tacoma Dome

  • Class "AAAA" State Championship Game: Gridiron Classic V

    • Richland
    • 21
    • Kentwood
    • 18
  • Head Coach: Lonnie Pierson

Kentwood High School
Kentwood High School
25800 164th Avenue SE
Covington, WA
Mascot: Conquerers
  • Bombers v. Conquerers
  • Wins
  • Overall
  • Records by Head Coach
  • Lonnie Pierson