On this day, there would be no wild comeback win for Woodinville. For a football team missing as many as nine potential starters, no amount of triage or strategizing could slow down Newport’s juggernaut rushing attack.
The Knights, led by Conner Baumann’s 248 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns, overwhelmed the Falcons 49-24 to advance to the state playoffs to take on Lake Stevens next week. Woodinville, meanwhile, finished its season with a disappointing 5-4 record.
For a sportswriter who grew up during the heyday of the Big Eight Conference, the Woodinville-Newport game resembled one of the old Nebraska or Oklahoma teams taking on an undersized Missouri or Oklahoma State squad.
Play after play, Newport lined up with their big boys up front and wore down Woodinville with a powerful option attack.
"They’re a good, physical football team," Woodinville head coach Wayne Maxwell said. "They did what they do. They get after it and they’re physical and they pound. They give the football to the fullback. I thought our kids, having missing so many guys, they did a heck of a job going out and competing, and scrapping and giving everything they could tonight."
The game actually started out wonderfully for Woodinville. Falcons running back Brad Roland jolted the home crowd to life by taking the first handoff around left end and breaking free down the sideline for a 62-yard touchdown. Chad Zaback’s extra point put the Falcons up 7-0.
But Newport stayed composed and began pounding away with the ground game. By the early part of the second quarter, the Knights had established a 21-7 lead.
The Falcon offense temporarily came to life, when quarterback Matthew Wilson entered the game and sparked a comeback. The deficit was cut to 21-17 by halftime. Woodinville players were hitting hard and exerting full effort.
But the second half commenced as The Conner Baumann Show -- the imposing fullback crossed the goal line four more times. With 7:25 left in the game, he broke loose on a 57-yard scoring gallop, to put the capper on his evening’s scoring rampage.
"It’s the first time I’ve scored 6 touchdowns in a game," Baumann said. "It was great. The linemen produced holes for me and I just followed my blockers. I dedicate it to my team, we’re working hard everywhere."
As the final seconds of the game and season ticked off the clock for Woodinville, the somber mood along the sideline was palpable. Injured seniors Alek Kacmarcik and Wyatt Smith looked crestfallen and Smith had tears in his eyes. A season that started with such promise and a 4-1 record, was expiring before them in forlorn fashion.
"It’s a great group of kids," Maxwell said. "The whole team as a group is just a great group of guys. Our journey of progressing through the year, starting with our summer camp at Eastern (Washington University), where they won the Friday Night Lights tourney. And then our game in Alaska, where we had a great time, and the kids were well-behaved and got a lot of compliments. Then as the season progressed, we got a bit banged up but I thought our guys persevered. Coming back in the Eastlake game, coming back in the Redmond game. Giving everything they’ve got in the these last two games.
"They didn’t lose sight of what the program is about in terms of getting after it and competing."