Jaiden Corbray deserved a night like this.
Just exactly like this, with all the trimmings of performance, joy and celebration on his own field in front of a big home crowd Friday night.
In fact, Eisenhower has likely never had a football player who so richly deserved a sweet slice of emotional justice as this 5-foot-6, 160-pound senior. And yet he gladly shared it with his great friend Malachi Spurrier.
In his first-ever start at quarterback, Corbray pitched five touchdown passes — all to Spurrier, Eisenhower’s only returning offensive starter — as the Cadets romped to a 46-0 victory over Stadium of Tacoma at Zaepfel Stadium.
“Malachi and I have been playing football together since we were 7 years old, and tonight he was unstoppable,” said Corbray, who threw for 209 yards in three quarters. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to see downfield, but I always know where he is. That’s our chemistry.”
A year ago in the season opener, Corbray took the field at Stadium as the Cadets’ top running back and he was expecting big things for his junior season. Indeed, an Ike running back ran for 300 yards and five touchdowns that night and went on to shatter the school record with 1,847 yards.
But it wasn’t Corbray, because he suffered a broken hand in the first quarter that basically ended his season.
“That was the toughest thing to go through, heartbreaking,” said Corbray, whose departure opened the door for Damien Pacheco’s record-setting season. “I was happy for Damien because he’s my friend. But I’ll be honest, it hurt to watch from the sideline, especially that first night. It should have been me.”
Friday night it was him.
Corbray and Spurrier hooked up on scoring plays of 21, 14, 47, 12 and 31 yards, the last strike giving Ike a 33-0 lead on the opening possession of the second half. Spurrier set a school record for receiving touchdowns and finished with eight catches for 157 yards.
Corbray’s only miscue was an interception that stopped Ike’s opening drive. But he tackled the Stadium defensive back and never made another mistake, completing 13 of 21 passes and adding 37 yards to the Cadets’ 226-yard ground game.
“I couldn’t be happier for Jaiden,” said Ike coach Gary Jimenez. “He was not only our star running back at the start of last season but one of our best defensive players. In spring ball when we talked about moving him to quarterback he wasn’t crazy about it. But we explained that we would change our offense to fit his talents and we have. Malachi is obviously a special kid, but we also ran the ball really well and that balance is what we’re looking for.”
Jimenez “fired himself” as defensive coordinator and handed the reins to Ryan Watson, whose crew pitched a shutout with interceptions by D’Anthony Gary-Smith and Elyan Jimenez and a fumble recovery by Jason Poteet. Stadium managed a total of 145 yards.
“Defense is where we have our most experience and seniors, and Ryan has done a great job with them,” Jimenez said. “We tackled well, pursued well and stuck to the plan. It was a great start.”
The Cadets travel to Federal Way next Saturday and then host Coeur d’Alene on Sept. 20.
Ike — Malachi Spurrier 21 pass from Jaiden Corbray (kick blocked)
Ike — Spurrier 14 pass from Corbray (kick failed)
Ike — Spurrier 47 pass from Corbray (Thomas Oplinger kick)
Ike — Spurrier 12 pass from Corbray (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Spurrier 31 pass from Corbray (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Timothy Harrison 4 run (Oplinger kick)
Ike — Hayden Nyberg 6 run (kick blocked)
RUSHING — Stadium, Payden Montgomery 8-68, Scott Johnson 7-18, Jordan William 2-2, Jared Crooks 1-2, James Kiyante 1-(minus 4), Team 2-(minus 6). Ike, Nyberg 9-72, Harrison 13-57, Jorge Garcia 5-40, Corbray 7-37, Justice Dean 4-11, Gabriel Jaime 2-10, Daniel Conchola 1-4, Team 2-(minus 5).
PASSING — Stadium, Johnson 9-24-2-65. Ike, Corbray 13-21-1-209.
RECEIVING — Stadium, Montgomery 4-23, Crooks 2-8, Dominic Gierke 1-17, Thomas Farman 1-12, Isaiah Chambers 1-5. Ike, Spurrier 8-157, Stevan Rodriguez 3-34, Harrison 1-14, Paco Sanchez 1-4.