Once upon a time, director Rob Reiner made a blockbuster film called "Sleepless in Seattle." If he ever returns to make a movie based on last Friday’s Woodinville-Newport football game, he could call it Bludgeoned in Bellevue. Or Flummoxed in Factoria. Or Conquered at Coal Creek.
For as great as Woodinville was in its first two wins of the season, last Friday’s 40-9 loss to the Newport Knights was akin to the Amityville Horror. The Falcon players seemed tentative from the opening kickoff and never got into any sort of groove until late in the first half.
Woodinville assistant coach Mike Monan assessed the possible pre-game mindset of his players: "Sometimes when you start off 2-0, you kind of believe you’re the national champions after two games ... This third game we knew it was going to be tough."
It was tough from the get-go, as Newport established physical dominance up front in the trenches. Knight running backs Paul Wells and Conner Baumann ran through big holes and dragged tacklers all game long.
Woodinville head coach Wayne Maxwell was particularly impressed with Baumann.
"Number 10 made his yards between the tackles," Maxwell said. "And he made some well-deserved yards. The first two weeks we made those tackles but that didn’t happen tonight. I give that kid some credit. A good strong kid. He’s got some offers from Army and some schools like that."
On the other hand, Woodinville’s star running backs Wyatt Smith and Alek Kacmarcik never did get on track. Every time either touched the ball, it was usually like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds."
"I think their whole defensive front was great," Maxwell said of the Knights. "They’re a big, physically strong group. They do a nice job of technique and causing havoc and they’re out there with that outside shade ... They gave us fits. Their front four."
Woodinville’s passing game fared just as poorly. Falcon quarterback Will Jack overthrew his receivers repeatedly, and on several occasions when his throws were accurate, his receivers dropped them.
"I think Will was getting some pressure there and was trying to get rid of the ball quick," Maxwell said.
Now with a 2-1 record, Woodinville plays next at Pop Keeney Stadium on September 27 against Inglemoor. Maxwell described the positives from the Newport game that could help his team return to dominance.
"Kids were competing and fighting to the end," he said. "You didn’t have kids get on each other and engage in finger pointing. They’re used to winning and they have those expectations. So obviously when it doesn’t happen, how will you respond? Our kids kept competing and fighting and those are good things we can build on. The foundation of our team is a good one. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of things to work on and clean up."
Despite the loss, last Friday night did have a happy ending of sorts. As Woodinville players and coaches exited the Newport field and headed for the team bus, assistant coach Mike Monan wandered toward the grandstands and leaned his large frame across the short chain link fence to smooch a pretty blonde woman.
Noticing this reporter hovering nearby, Monan turned to say hello.
"Sorry," he said with a weary smile. "I had to drown my sorrows with a kiss from my wife."