Kingsley rushes for 333 yards, wins first district title since 2005 with a 44-14 victory over Beaverton
KINGSLEY — Ian Sousa of Kingsley couldn’t have imagined a senior season like this.
Sousa, a two-year starter at defensive end and tight end, endured a 1-8 season a year ago and his spirits were down. Enter Tim Wooer. Wooer’s homecoming is just what Sousa and his teammates needed as the Stags will play in their first region final since 2005.
Ayden Mullin rushed for 164 yards and the junior scored four touchdowns as Kingsley (10-1) wore down Beaverton to claim a 44-14 victory in a Division 6 Region 1 District 2 final at Kingsley on Friday.
Kingsley, as the visiting team, will play for a regional title next week against the winner of Saturday’s Calumet-Traverse City St. Francis game. Kingsley’s lone loss this season was to St. Francis.
Sousa was part of an offensive line that paved the way for 333 yards on the ground as the Stags asserted their will on the Beavers.
Owen Graves added 77 yards on 10 carries and Payson Caballero added 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns, one rushing, one receiving.
Sousa said the reason for the turnaround is obvious.
“It was the coaching,” Sousa said. “It started with the Justin Hansen camp. It was in a cow pasture. All of us were pushups and things in the cow (manure). We got down and dirty.
“Coach is a perfectionist. He knows what you can do.”
The Justin Hansen camp is named after a former Kingsley student who played his senior season for Wooer in 2002. Hansen, serving in the Marines, was killed serving his country in Afghanistan in 2012.
What Wooer has done is motivate a group of players searching for success. Wooer runs an offense geared toward the run so an end like Sousa is used much more as a blocker than he is as a receiver. Sousa did have two receptions including one for 19 yards on a second-and-12 early in the second half that led to Kingsley’s fifth touchdown.
“The passes don’t matter,” he said. “I do it for the team.”
Kingsley scored on each of its first three possessions and led 20-6 with 7:46 left in the first half after Caballero’s 5-yard touchdown run.
Mullin scored the Stags’ first two touchdowns on runs of 5 and 2 yards. In between those touchdowns Kyle Cassiday (21 carries, 102 yards) busted loose for a 26-yard scoring run that tied the score for Beaverton (8-3) at 6-6 with 2:55 left in the first quarter.
The Beavers threatened to make it a one-score game late in the half as they drove to the Kingsley 10. On fourth-and-7 quarterback Logan Gerow’s pass was incomplete and the Stags took possession with 1:13 left and ran out the clock.
Kingsley set the tone on the game’s first possession as the Stags went 66 yards in 12 plays, all on the ground, with Mullin’s first touchdown completing the drive. His 2-yard run on a fourth-and-1 from the Beaverton 7-yard line was key. Mullin had six carries for 37 yards on the drive.
Caballero’s 17-yard touchdown run opened the scoring in the second half and the Stags never looked back.
Kingsley had 417 total yards to 252 for Beaverton.
And don’t tell Wooer you can never go home again. After he helped build a solid program at Traverse City West beginning with the 2008 season, Wooer left West to come back to his roots. His job was to reenergize a program he had built in the mid-2000s culminating in a Division 6 championship in 2005.
“The kids haven’t changed one bit,” Wooer said. “There was a sense of apathy when I came back. It wasn’t just one day. Just building their psyche was the first part.
“You look at the seniors out here and you realized what happened. There were a lot of reasons for coming back. It’s special. This is where I want my career to end.”