The Auburn High football team has had a giant chip on its collective shoulder since the beginning of the season.
The tradition-rich Trojans stumbled to a 4-6 record a year ago, missed the state playoffs and were then projected to finish third in a preseason poll of the South Puget Sound League, North Division coaches.
Few viewed them as a top-10 team or one that would make a splash in the postseason.
So much for projections.
Lifted by a suffocating defense and a punishing running attack, unranked Auburn steamrolled to a 21-7 Class 4A state quarterfinals victory over fifth-ranked Mead Saturday at Troy Field.
The Trojans meet Bellarmine Prep next week in the semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.
“A lot of people underestimated us after what happened last year,” said Auburn safety T.J. Muao, who helped anchor a defense that held Mead to just 226 yards from scrimmage and forced three turnovers. “We’re not used to missing the playoffs. That’s not Auburn football. We’ve been motivated to get back since last season ended.”
The Trojans (10-2) dominated the opening two quarters. They went on a nine-play, 90-yard scoring drive the first time they had the ball, with Kieo Buchanan securing the touchdown with a 4-yard run. Senior quarterback Brier Atkinson completed his only pass of the game on the drive when he found tight end Kevin Shelton for a 33-yard gain.
Late in the first half, Darnell Hagans squirted loose for a 29-yard gain on a reverse. One play later, do-everything Harold Lee scampered 27 yards to paydirt, capping an eight-play, 77-yard march that gave the Trojans a 14-0 lead at the break.