If things go the way they’re hoped for this Woodinville football team, they may look back on opening night as a defining moment.
The Falcons spotted Mount Si a 10-3 halftime lead at their place, then stormed back with 28 unanswered second half points--scoring touchdowns on four consecutive drives to come away with an impressive 31-10 victory in what was clearly a tale of two halves.
And they did it the old fashioned way: they ran it down their throats.
"We wanted to run the ball like we’ve been used to at Woodinville,"
head coach Wayne Maxwell said, "and it’s something we’ve committed to."
They had to wait their chance to do it, as Mount Si received the opening kickoff and went on a 17-play march that ate up eight and a half minutes of official clock time and resulted in a field goal.
When they finally got the ball, the Falcon offense sputtered:
penalties, a high snap over the quarterback’s head to kill drives and then a muffed handoff recovered by the Wildcats on the Falcon 22 yard line with three minutes left in the half.
It led to Mount Si’s only touchdown, and it was flukey: Wildcat QB Ryan Atkinson, rolling to his right, fired a pass to his big tight end that Falcon linebacker Branden Shrout batted into the air in a collision but it bounced right into the hands of a wide open receiver who waltzed into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown and a 10-zip lead.
Woodinville, sucking up its misfortune, put together a late drive, keyed by an 18-yard burst by Devin McKee, a 29-yard inside screen to Kyle Adkins and a critical fourth down completion to Beau Vintertun to get on the board with a Conner Zaback field goal as the first half expired.
"The defense was on the field for a lot of snaps in the first half,"
Maxwell said. "We had some mishaps on offense that stalled drives, some miscommunication and the rhythm wasn’t there. The time of possession was pretty lopsided, and we congratulated our defensive guys for hanging in there. There was no panic in our guys."
Nobody hung their head in the locker room? "Not one bit," Maxwell said directly.
And then came the final 24 minutes, which was textbook for Woodinville.
Alec Schwend returned the kickoff 34 yards and then busted for 11 more on first down. McKee bolted for 15, then 14, and Parker Moore rumbled for 10. After an encroachment penalty on the home team, Brett Arrivey hit Colter Clinch with a short pass to the 4-yard line and Schwend punched it in to tie it at 10-apiece and the Falcon faithful exhaled.
Mount Si went three-and-out on its next series, keyed by a combined sack on 3rd-and-four by Shrout and Sawyer Whalen for a 12-yard loss.
Following the punt, Woodinville took possession at its 42 and did brisk business with half a field to go: Schwend ran for 16, Moore for six, McKee for 12, and Arrivey kept it for six. After a false start, Arrivey hit Adkins for eight and Shrout bulldogged up the middle for
14 yards to bring it to the doorstep where Schwend punched it in again to give the Falcons a 17-10 lead, swinging the momentum after two solid drives.
"We wore them down," the jubilant Whalen later said. "You could just tell early in that second half they were tired and we got better up front. We started to click."
That they did: Jake Hollister snuffed a Wildcat ball carrier on first down for a four-yard loss and sophomore Lee Wunderlich, making his first Falcon start, smoked out a third down screen attempt for another loss.
Mount Si’s punt was downed at the Woodinville 49, and the Falcons were dealing.
Schwend broke for 18 yards on first down and the Falcons quickly marched down to the 10, where Arrivey kept it again to take it down to the 2-yard line. Once again, Schwend plunged for a 24-10 lead as the Wildcats appeared shellshocked and lowered their shoulders.
To make matters worse for Mount Si, McKee then delivered the defensive play of the night: On first down at their 20 with the Wildcats in obvious pass situation, he stripped a receiver after a 10-yard completion and emerged from the scrum with the ball.
Five plays later, including another 18-yard burst from Schwend, Arrivey hit Trey Fornelius with a 1-yard TD pass on a rollout and the Woodinville party was on.
Schwend, who looks like an altar boy but runs like a demon--one tackler cannot take him down-- unofficially ran for 121 yards on 17 carries to go along with his three touchdowns. He seemed to get fresher as defenders wilted, and got back-slapped by his teammates for producing the goods.
"We were determined," he said. " We wanted to set a tone in our first game. We had some confusion (in the first half) and had the ball moving but didn’t finish. At half we came together and said we can’t stop ourselves like last year. It’s our turn to rise."
He was asked about his offensive line, which blew gaping holes in the Wildcat defense in the last 24 minutes.
"Best line I’ve ever played with, without a doubt, even with the twos.
Those guys are awesome."
Whalen, one of those guys, was jacked-up with the result. "Oh, man, I had a whole lotta fun tonight. I’ll say this: our team overall is in the best shape it’s been in for the last two years and we wore them out, no doubt about it."