October 18, 1999
Date: October 15, 1999. Time: 9:32 p.m. Location: Interlake High School Stadium. At that exact moment, the final horn sounded on the first victory of the season for the Cedarcrest Red Wolves.
Six games into the season was long enough to wait for this great group of players. They had practiced diligently for eight weeks, played hard in five ballgames, and it finally came together in a resounding 30-7 win over the Saints from Interlake.
The final score reflected the dominance of the Red Wolves. From the opening whistle, they proved that they belong in this league by pounding the ball inside and outside with tough running from running backs Eric Dick and Morgan Henly. Shifty receiving by star wideouts Mike Smith and Nate McLallin kept the Saints on their heels, not knowing which offense was coming, the run or the pass.
Offensive Coordinator Dave Ryles, who called the plays relayed down to coach Kuehn on the field, balanced this beautifully from the press box. Just because you call a good play doesn't mean anything if it isn't executed properly. The Red Wolves showed their mettle by just how well they did execute all night.
Starting with special teams led by Aaron O'Neal, Cedarcrest stopped Interlake time and again. When it was the defense's time on the field, Tommy Felts and Jesse Thompson laid down the law and stuffed play after play at the line of scrimmage. When Interlake tried to pass, Cody Wheeler and Casey Petterson were there to break up the pass and not allow the completion. Even when the Saints completed a pass, they didn't break free for extra yards, due to sure tackling of safeties Mike Smith and Morgan Henly.
The game started slowly, as Cedarcrest held Interlake on their first series and forced a punt, which was returned by Casey Petterson. From there, the Red Wolves moved well on a great run by Henly, but the drive stalled when Henly only gained 6 yards on 4th and 7.
The defense stuffed Interlake, and on 4th and 3 on their next possession and from their own 28, Interlake snapped the ball over the kicker's head and out of the endzone for a safety and a two-point lead for Cedarcrest. Déjà vu, as this was exactly how Interlake scored their first two points in last years contest.
Petterson returned the ensuing kick back inside Saint territory, and the Red Wolves started on the Saint 46. Mike Smith went in motion, and on a gadget play, took the pitch and threw deep to Nate Mclallin, who hauled it in at the 5 and was wrestled down at the 2. From there, Henly punched it in, and with 5:02 left in the first quarter, it was 9-0, Cedarcrest.
The defense was even tougher on the next Interlake series with Steve Polejewski playing like a demon and sacking the Saint quarterback for a 7-yard loss, then after a pass interference penalty gave Interlake a first down, he sacked the quarterback again. Interlake went for a 4th and 3 from their own 43 with a fake punt, which was dropped by the receiver, to give Cedarcrest great field position once again. Smith hauled in a short pass and turned it into a long gain down inside the 5 to the 3-yard line as time ran out in the first quarter.
On the first play of the second quarter, Smith hauled in the pass for his league-leading ninth TD reception of the year from quarterback Nick Rich to push the Red Wolf lead to 16-0. Morgan Henly later scored on a 12-yard run right up the middle past the blocks of center Bobby Znak and guards Joe Grady and Ryan Sage to make the score 23-0.
Interlake's star receiver Joe Crowder made a couple of phenomenal catches to move Interlake into great field position, 1st and goal at the 2. Cedarcrest answered with their own theatrics as Smith blitzed off the corner, and as the quarterback tried to loft a pass over the 6'4" Smith, he tipped the ball to himself and intercepted the ball to thwart the Saints once again.
Cedarcrest had to punt for the first time with 2:54 in the half, and Interlake almost made them pay. Again moving the ball deep into Red Wolf territory at the 2-yard line, Cedarcrest's defense rose to the challenge as Polejewski dropped the quarterback for another sack and a 10-yard loss back to the 13.
On 4th down, David Shipley and Joe Grady had a meeting in the backfield with the Saint quarterback and dropped him for another big loss to turn the ball back to the Red Wolf offense. From there, the half ran out with Cedarcrest running the ball out to almost midfield. Halftime score: 23-0, Cedarcrest.
The second half was more of the same, as the Red Wolves used a balanced attack to keep the Saints honest and were able to move the ball at will against the tiring defensive line.
The Red Wolves started the second half by chewing up more than 4 minutes on a deliberate drive culminated by Matt Geiger on a nice catch at the 5, where he dragged three defenders the rest of the way to paydirt, and Cedarcrest had its final points of the night.
Interlake finally got on the scoreboard with a long drive, which the Red Wolves thought they had stopped several times. Curtis Coe tipped an Interlake pass into the arms of Tommy Felts, only to have the ball somehow squirt free to let Interlake keep possession.
Aaron O'Neal made a great tackle on second down to force Interlake into an obvious passing down with 3rd and 7 from the 15. Interlake went for it a down later on 4th and 7, and their own star, Crowder, hauled it in and scored to make the final score 30-7, Red Wolves.
Brandon Clark recovered the attempted onside kick as both teams emptied their benches for the final 9:45 of the contest. This was a great experience for the players to get the experience of playing and winning at this level.
This first win was sweet and it is too bad that it took so long in coming, but to the Red Wolves' defense, their early season schedule this year was filled with the powerhouses in Kingco 3A. The experience against the likes of Bellevue, Sammamish, and Mercer Island has been a good teacher, and the Red Wolves learned their lesson well. Turnabout is fair play.
Head coach Art Kuehn commented after the game, "We played pretty darned well. Even though we made a few mistakes early, I have a lot of respect for the coaches and players from Interlake. I'll tell you what, I can see us doing this down the road next week and the week after that. I knew that these kids could play in this league; finally, the right team showed up on Friday. All the kids who got in the game played well. We have practiced so well all week. They deserved this win."
The players were very excited about the first win this year, and as Mike Smith said, "We got one," now it's on to Liberty and maybe another one.
All in all, it was the most complete game of the season by the hometown squad. They played with the enthusiasm and skill that the traveling faithful knew were there. It was terrific to see them put it all together. All hail the victors! On to Liberty and the Patriots, and next week's contest.