Noah Stifle hooks up with Carter Smith.
RENTON—During pregame warmups, Sav’ell Smalls walked toward the 50-yard line.
The Kennedy Catholic Lancers’ five-star linebacker stood alone, staring menacingly at the Woodinville Falcon players for a full minute.
Both Smalls and quarterback Sam Huard are superstars and UW commits. They are leaders of Kennedy’s then-undefeated and top-ranked team.
But Smalls had no idea what was coming. Kennedy would be a team caught and mangled in the whirring claws of a flock of Falcons, who dominated the Lancers 55-42 in State quarter-final action at Renton Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
“We just felt really confident about our guys coming in,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “Our guys have played a lot of playoff games, and we knew that if we started fast, [Kennedy] hasn’t had to handle that type of adversity yet, in a single-elimination game, with their backs against the wall. We felt we could gain an advantage.”
Woodinville improved its record to 11-1 with the win and advanced to the semifinals. Kennedy (11-1) saw its season come to an end.
The Falcons took the opening kickoff and drove the field for a touchdown, capped by Noah Stifle’s 21-yard pass to Carter Smith.
On the ensuing possession, Kennedy’s Sam Huard threw toward the end zone, but his pass was picked off by Josh Spencer, who turned on the afterburners for a 93-yard pick-six.
“We were studying film all week,” Spencer said. “[Huard] was trying to look me off to make the deep ball. I made a break on it. I was filled with energy that I just intercepted a ball from Sam Huard, 5- Star Quarterback. And I just took off. I needed some oxygen after that one!”
“Josh was dialed in on his fits, he had an outstanding break on the ball,” Coach Maxwell said. “And then he turned it into another gear, which I hadn’t quite seen before.”
Early in the second quarter, Woodinville led 21-0 when Huard dropped back to pass. The pressure closed in and Huard fumbled. The Falcons Jack Beresford recovered the ball. Moments later, tailback Joey Johnson rumbled 16 yards into the end zone for a 28-0 lead.
Woodinville would add two field goals from Blake Glessner and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Stifle to Cage Schenck.
The Falcons went into halftime leading 41-13.
Kennedy spent the second half in catch-up mode, scoring 29 points. But every time the Lancers reached the end zone, Woodinville answered with long scoring drives of their own.
To wit: Woodinville never punted and Glessner kicked off 11 times.
“We were driving the ball down the field on every play,” right tackle Grayson DuBois said. “It was great. I’m just so happy.”
In the final analysis, Joey Johnson led the Falcons with 34 carries for 198 yards and a touchdown.
Stifle was sensational, throwing for 184 yards and three touchdowns while adding two TDs on the ground.
Schenck had seven receptions for 114 yards and a score.
Blake Glessner led the way defensively with 10 tackles. Carter Laccinole had 4 tackles and 9 assisted tackles. Isaac Fuiten had 4 tackles and 6 assisted tackles.
Coach Maxwell also credited assistant coaches for scoring 55 points. “DJ [Baddeley], [Mike] Monan and [Mike] Pluschke, those guys working together did a great job to put guys in the right spots.”
Woodinville advances to the semifinals to play Bothell this Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium on Thanksgiving weekend. At stake is a berth to the state championship game.
“It’s super crazy,” Stifle said. “Woodinville, Bothell and Mount Si—three Kingco teams in the Final Four?”
“It doesn’t get better than Woodinville and Bothell and the rivalry,” Coach Maxwell said. “Two great programs, both teams respect each other. It’s going to be a heck of a football game."