Toppenish Football, Zillah Volleyball Highlight Lower Valley ‘Fall’ Sports Season

Just like that, the fall sports season in the South Central Athletic Conference (SCAC) has come and gone.

After waiting six months to compete against other schools, the football, volleyball, cross country and girls soccer programs from Toppenish, Wapato and Zillah managed to get in about five weeks of head-to-head competition.

Among the local highlights were the Toppenish football team’s conference title game victory over Connell and the Wapato girls soccer team finishing with a winning record (6-5) for the first time in a long time.

For anyone who missed it, here’s a brief rundown of the COVID-shortened “fall” season —which ended up taking place in March due to COVID-19 (in case you missed that, too).

FOOTBALL

Top-Hi provided its share of highlights during a 5-0 run through league play, but it would be difficult to top the 26-20 double overtime win over Connell on March 19 that gave the ‘Cats the unofficial SCAC championship. 

Seth Ordaz had a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to give Toppenish the lead, and after Connell tied the game late, quarterback Josh Perez punched in a one-yard touchdown in the second overtime to seal the victory. Jose Torres also had a touchdown run in the game, helping Top-Hi earn an unexpected undefeated record.

Not to be forgotten, junior tight end/lineman Jason Grant also posted a standout campaign, grabbing a school record six touchdown passes in a 63-6 win over Wapato on March 16.

Along with the victory over Connell, the ‘Cats posted wins over Naches Valley (38-14), Zillah (20-13) and College Place (30-6) to earn a spot in the title game.

Longtime rival Wapato — which moved from the CWAC to the SCAC along with Toppenish this year — finished at 0-5, while traditional league stalwart Zillah finished at 2-2 with wins over Naches Valley (34-13) and La Salle (53-0). 

VOLLEYBALL

Zillah ended up posting the best record among the local SCAC volleyball teams, finishing 7-2 overall and 5-2 in league. The Leopards — led by Maddie Wallace, Brynn Widner, Mayce Wofford and Emmalee Nishi — finished out the season March 20 with a three-set win over rival La Salle in the SCAC third-place match.

The young Toppenish High team earned three victories over winless Wapato this season to finish at 3-10 overall (2-6 league). The ‘Cats also took two sets each from La Salle and Kiona Benton, and were led by Jalissa Johnson, Marissa Cuellar, Emily Larios and Kenita Burgess.

Meanwhile, the Granger volleyball team, which moved out of the SCAC into Class 2B this year, posted an undefeated record in their new league, the EWAC. Key players for the Spartans this season included Ariela Solorio, Nizhoni Tallman, Shaylin Cardenas and Mariel Birrueta.

CROSS COUNTRY

The Wapato High girls cross country team finished with a strong kick at the end, taking the top two spots in the SCAC district meet on March 17 in Connell.

Freshman Betzabeth Zaragoza won the girls race in 21 minutes, 21 seconds and junior teammate Crystal Colin was second in 21:53. Zaragoza was unbeaten in five conference meets over four weeks, while the Wolves team finished third behind Naches Valley and Connell. Brianna Littlebull took 19th place overall in a time of 25:49.

The Top-Hi girls placed fourth, with Vanessa Carriedo setting the pace in 23:55 (sixth overall). Also placing among the top 20 for the ‘Cats was Daphne Hernandez in 24:53 (13th place). 

Zillah did not post a team score but had three runners place in the top 20: Hollie Ziegler (23:46, fifth), Gracie Salverda (25:26, 15th) and Belgica Monroy (25:28, 16th).

On the boys side, Wapato’s Cesar Loza was the top local finisher at the district meet, taking third place with a time of 17:45. Andrew Sandoval of Top-Hi was close behind in seventh place with a time of 18:29.

The Wapato boys placed third, while Toppenish and Zillah followed them in fourth and fifth place, respectively. Zillah’s top finisher was Tysen Reed at 19:21 (16th).

Wapato saw additional strong finishes by Darwin Gonzalez (19:21, 15th), Hazen Jacob (19:37, 18th) and Harold Garcia (19:37, 19th). Adams Myers of Toppenish (19:35, 17th) and Vicente Medelez of Zillah (19:44, 20th) also placed among the top 20 in the final race.

GIRLS SOCCER

Wapato showed tremendous improvement this season after a disappointing 2019 campaign, posting a record of 6-5 (3-2 league) to claim second place in the SCAC West behind La Salle. Individual game results and players names were not available.

Toppenish picked up one victory in its first game of the season but ended up finishing 1-8 overall (1-5 league). Zillah played a non-conference schedule and official results were not available.