BOTHELL— A strange feeling was in the air in the first half at Pop Keeney Stadium last Friday night in a must-win game against Skyline, as the Woodinville Falcons were noticeably tight.
Skyline led 6-0, and Falcon fans were fretting over the unexpected turn of events. But Woodinville rallied in the second half to hold off the Spartans 21-14.
The Falcons (8-1) will advance in the play-offs to face Emerald Ridge this Saturday. Meanwhile, the Spartans (3-6) saw their season came to an end.
“We’re in the playoffs, and the intensity goes up another level,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “Win or go home, right? Skyline came out and did a great job fighting and doing good things on both sides of the ball. We weren’t as clean as we’d like to be, but I give Skyline credit for a lot of that.”
The Falcons started off the game in a funk. There was a missed short field goal, a dropped interception and a fumble deep in Skyline territory that thwarted a scoring opportunity.
Meanwhile, watching Skyline on offense was like watching Princeton play basketball.
The Spartans intended to milk the clock and shorten the game. They’d constantly allow the play clock to wind down before snapping the ball. They also converted several third-and-long situations to keep drives alive and Woodinville’s offense on the sideline.
As the teams walked off the field at halftime, Woodinville offensive lineman Nathan Metz cajoled teammates to loosen up.
“I felt on the field that everyone was tight,” Metz said. “We’re all playing a game we love. I was preaching to the guys that we’re playing this game for fun. Let’s go out there and enjoy this game!”
On Woodinville’s first possession of the second half, Noah Stifle connected with Carter Smith for a touchdown pass to build the lead to 14-6.
Late in the third quarter, Matthew Armstrong intercepted a pass that helped sway more momentum toward Woodinville.
The lead was extended to 21-6 in the fourth quarter when Stifle connected with Cage Schenck.
The play was most impressive as it seemed that Schenck would surely be tackled for a short gain. But the elusive playmaker juked his way out of peril before sprinting free toward pay dirt.
“Cage makes guys look foolish in space,” Coach Maxwell said. “He’s calm, patient and confident in making those plays.”
Maxwell also had good words for senior wide receiver Daniel Bacon.
“Daniel had a couple of big catches tonight,” Maxwell said. “That was awesome to see because he has worked hard to get to this point.”
Joey Johnson finished the night with 138 yards rushing. The senior now has 1,097 yards and 9 touchdowns on the season. According to team statistician Andrew Strutzel,
Johnson is the first Falcon in at least 15 years to go over 1,000 yards in a season. On defense, Isaac Fuiten led the way with 12 tackles, while Carter Laccinole added 9 tackles and a tackle for loss. A WAKE-UP CALL
Woodinville players acknowledged after the game that they might’ve overlooked Skyline.
“We came out like this wasn’t going to be the most difficult game in the world,” Metz said. “Obviously that was not the right mindset to have. You can never overlook any
team, especially a storied team like Skyline. They’re a tight-knit group, I noticed that...This is their last game of the year, and they were going to give us everything they’ve got.”
“I don’t know if I agree with [Nathan],” Joey Johnson said. "We definitely knew they were a good team with some very good players. But maybe we did underestimate them a little bit.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ADDISON
After the game ended, the Woodinville team gathered around Addison Maxwell, the daughter of coach Wayne Maxwell. Together they faced the grandstands while serenading
her with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
Addison turned 14 last Friday.
“The other day Coach Maxwell called the captains over,” Metz said. “He said it was his daughter’s birthday on Friday, so we’re going to sing happy birthday and try
to embarrass her. So I gave her the tiara and she was like `I don’t want to be up here!’ But then we started singing and I think she enjoyed it.”