As Woodinville came off the Pop Keeney field at halftime, they led a chippy Monroe squad 10-7. But for a Falcon team that has dominated so many opponents the past couple years, the feeling was unfamiliar.
“I wouldn’t say we were discouraged,” Woodinville linebacker Danny Metsker said. “But we’re not used to being in that situation a lot. We showed a lot of heart coming out for the second half.”
Woodinville would score four rushing touchdowns in that second half, turning a 10-7 lead into a 38-14 victory last Thursday night. In so doing, the Falcons improved to 2-0 on the season.
“Monroe came out and fought and gave us a battle in that first half,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “And I absolutely love the way our kids came out and responded. First time for a new young group of guys. How were we going to play when things get tight? Are we going to let it loose and get after it? Or play cautious? And they answered the bell... They finished tonight and it was awesome.”
Woodinville scored on the game’s opening drive, when Blake Glessner booted a 26-yard field goal through the uprights. The Falcons scored again late in the second quarter, when Nolan Downs ferreted off tackle for four yards and into pay dirt.
Opening drive of the second half, Woodinville’s Josh Spencer intercepted a pass to set up the Falcons at the Bearcat 27 yard line. Joey Johnson then scored on a 6-yard run, to put Woodinville up 17-7.
Monroe’s final threat of the game came on the ensuing drive. But on fourth and 1 from the Woodinville 6 yard line, the Falcons stuffed a quarterback sneak. Woodinville took possession and promptly marched 94 yards, highlighted by a sensational 44-yard completion from quarterback Noah Stifle to Cage Schenck. The drive was capped by a 3-yard plunge by Joey Johnson, to extend Woodinville’s lead to 24-10. It was now all over but the shouting.
“It was a great competitive game,” Coach Maxwell said. “[Monroe] is a team that had a great year last year and they know what success is. They didn’t have the cleanest game in week one and they responded well coming out here tonight. Monroe always travels well and it was a great high school atmosphere.”
Maxwell’s reference to Monroe’s fan base was no empty praise. The orange-and-black clad fans made a raucous spectacle in the visitor’s grandstands. Even as their team trailed 38-7, the Monroe student section did their chants and had a wild, fun time. They were the loudest group of fans to cheer on Woodinville’s home field since Sumner made a trip to Pop Keeney Stadium in 2016.
After the game, as Woodinville players walked off the field, the “Big Uglies” had big grins on their faces. The behemoth offensive line paved the way for 314 yards rushing (172 by Joey Johnson) and 5 rushing touchdowns on the night.
“We had a lot to work on from last week,” Woodinville offensive line coach Mike Monan said. “Our pad level was way too high last week. We worked this week on getting our eyes [focused] to [the opponent’s chin]... In that second half we just took it to them. We were grinding. We had that 94 yard drive and ran the ball at will when we wanted to do it.”
Monan then prattled off their O-line names: “We’ve got Levi Rogers at left tackle. And then Brendan Szymanski at left guard. I’ve been coaching Szymanskis for years, but this is the last one. And then we’ve got Matt Harvey at center– he’s the height-challenged one. And then at right guard is Nathan Metz, and then at right tackle is Will Augustine our senior captain.
“They’re phenomenal,” Monan said. “I’m coaching a great group of kids.”