BOTHELL—Moments after the game ended, reality set in. The scoreboard read Bothell 31, Woodinville 21.
In this semifinal game, the Bothell Cougars advanced to the state championship versus Camas, while the Woodinville Falcons saw their season come to a close.
Falcons Coach Wayne Maxwell gathered his players on the field. He told them how proud he was of their dedication, the great season they’d had, and that he loved them with all his heart.
“That’s what football is about,” Maxwell said. “It’s about family. It’s so much more than a sport... The bonds they make playing football in this program is something special. I’m absolutely proud of how they poured their hearts into this and gave every ounce of effort they have to their football family.”
This game was highly anticipated. As kickoff approached, Pop Keeney Stadium pulsated with the excitement generated from a standing-room-only crowd of more than 5,500 fans.
Bothell jumped out to a 14-0 lead when Tala Tevaga rumbled 11 yards for a touchdown, and Ryan Metz returned a Woodinville fumble 42 yards for a score.
Late in the first quarter, Woodinville faced a second down and 23 yards to go, when Noah Stifle hit Carter Smith for a 76-yard completion to the Bothell five-yard line. One play later, Stifle found Daniel Bacon in the end zone. The PAT was good and Woodinville closed the gap to 14-7.
But the game’s turning point came late in the second quarter. Still trailing 14-7, Woodinville went for it on fourth-and-one from the Bothell 34-yard line—but failed to convert. Bothell responded by marching 66 yards in two plays, capped by Christian Galvan racing 28 yards untouched for the touchdown to make it 21-7 Cougars at the half.
Late in the third quarter, with Bothell holding a commanding 28-7 lead, the Cougars lined up for a field goal, but the kick was blocked. Woodinville’s Cage Schenck picked up the pigskin and raced 72 yards for the score to cut the deficit to 28-14.
With time winding down in the fourth quarter and Woodinville trailing 31-14, Stifle found Schenck in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard strike. But it was all academic at that point. Bothell was soon lining up in victory formation as their blue-clad fans roared with joy.
“During those final seconds, I just wanted to cherish that time with my brothers,” said Woodinville senior defensive end Nate Dixon. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be out there with every day. I’m going to really miss these guys.”
In the final analysis, Bothell executed a fine game plan, and the numbers bore that out. The Cougars rushed for 232 yards while holding the powerful Falcon running game to a mere 43 yards. Bothell also converted 7-of-17 third-down tries, while Woodinville was a paltry 1-for-8. Bothell also won the turnover battle 3-1.
“Taking care of the rock, you need to win that battle for sure,” Coach Maxwell said. “On the line of scrimmage, [Bothell] did a nice job on both sides of the ball.”
Woodinville finished the season with an 11-2 record.
The Falcon postgame locker room was as somber as a mausoleum. Cage Schenck, the talented basketball player who turned out for football just three years ago, spoke quietly.
“It just sucks,” he said. “Not just losing a game like that, but fighting and coming back and falling short, it just sucks losing to Bothell again. But looking back, I’m really glad I played football. It changed my life for the better. Just looking around, I wouldn’t want to be out there with anyone else but my brothers.”
Senior offensive guard Nathan Metz paused to reflect.
“This one hurts,” he said. “We wanted this one so bad. We didn’t execute the way we wanted to execute, and they outright beat us. When the game ended, I was thinking about how badly it hurt and how much I love this family and this program overall. I will never forget this season. I’m going to miss these guys. Not seeing them around every day is going to hurt. Shout out to Bothell, they deserved this one.”
Daniel Bacon hauls in a touchdown pass in the State Semi-Final game against Bothell. Jim Florentine photo