ORTING — Lumberjacks sixth-grader Alex Bing has a bright future in football and sports. The 109-pound athlete demonstrated speed, a rare cutback ability and leadership in the most important game of the season.
Lakewood's fifth-and-sixth grade team captured its third consecutive Nisqually Youth Football League championship Saturday night at Orting Middle School with a 36-28 upset victory against the undefeated Eagles.
Bing, a one-man wrecking crew, tallied 347 all-purpose yards including four rushing touchdowns and two special teams TDs.
"It feels good," Bing said about how it feels to be league champs. "We brought it back home three times in a row."
Similar to last year, the Lumberjacks were the underdog. But in the championship game, it was a different story.
"It was like last year against Eatonville," Bing said. "They beat us, but in the championship we came back."
The Lumberjacks (8-2) jumped out to an early lead, opening the game with a six-play drive capped by a 14-yard rushing touchdown by Bing with 7 minutes, 21 seconds in the first quarter, 6-0.
Graham (9-1) fumbled on its first play of the game and the Lumberjacks recovered it. Behind a much-improved offensive line, Lakewood's Bing reached the end zone on a 25-yard run, 12-0.
Establishing an early lead was key for the Lumberjacks, according to head coach Jason Ono.
"When they get the early lead, they play like nothing can stop them," Ono said.
The Eagles failed responding to the early two-score deficit. After a quick three-and-out, the Lumberjacks called Bing's name.
He carried the ball twice and scored on a 40 yard play, dodging multiple Graham defenders. The Lumberjacks held an 18-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
That was just the beginning.
Another stalled drive forced the Eagles to punt with 8:38 showing in the second quarter. Bing dashed down the sideline for a 60-yard punt return, stunning the Eagles with a 24-0 lead at halftime.
Bing had eight carries for 144 yards, three touchdowns and a punt return at the midway point. The Lumberjacks offense collected 166 yards compared to the Eagles' 21, respectively.
But the Eagles returned to the field with pride and determination in the second half. They inserted Tristyn Gese, a different quarterback. It worked as the Eagles drove down the field and running back Dalton Miller scored on a 1 yard plunge, capping a 5-play drive with 5:23 in the third quarter, 24-8.
The Lumberjacks fumbled the snap on a fourth-down conversion. The Eagles took advantage, executing an eight-play drive that ended with a 7 yard touchdown by running back Kellen James, 24-14.
James finished with a team-high 11 carries for 82 yards and a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, Bing avoided multiple Graham defenders and scored on a 28 yard touchdown. The extra point conversion failed and the Lumberjacks led 30-14 with 6:17 remaining in the game.
The Eagles would not surrender.
Graham wide receiver Richard Gomez caught a 16 yard touchdown from Gese, recording an 11-play drive with 1:29 left in the game. The Eagles attempted an onside kick trailing by one TD and a two-point extra kick, 30-22.
They kicked it to the wrong person.
Instead of falling on the ball, Bing scooped it up and reversed the field scampering for a 55 yard kickoff return touchdown, 36-22.
Ono said Bing is a role model for his teammates and sets the tempo for the team.
"Bing is one of those rare, special kids that comes along," he said. "He can do anything on the football field. He’s a great student and just a great kid all around."