By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
EDMONDS — Cascade head football coach Joe Cronin was hired to get his team back to games like the one they play tonight against Edmonds-Woodway.
Both teams come into the game 4-0 and the winner walks away with at least a share of first place in the 4A Wesco South. It’s a long way from where the Bruins were just two seasons ago when they didn’t win a single game.
It’s safe to say the Bruins haven’t played a game of this magnitude in quite some time.
“I think right now the kids are very excited to be in a meaningful game,” Cronin said. “Obviously every game is meaningful to an extent, but to be in a game that has implications on the league and league winner. For them, it’s definitely a different experience.”
It’s not a new experience for Edmonds-Woodway. The Warriors won the Wesco South two years ago and second behind Jackson in 2012. The Timberwolves defeated the Warriors 36-34 in week four in a game that ultimately decided the league championship. Edmonds-Woodway avenged that loss a week ago, opening up league play with a 35-28 win over Jackson. The Warriors also have an impressive victory over Meadowdale under their belt prior to beating Jackson.
“Edmonds-Woodway is a really talented team,” Cronin said. “They are well-coached, very physical and always every year do a great job of running the football and are a very successful program. For us, it’s a big test to see kind of where we are.”
The Bruins also boast an undefeated record, but lack a signature victory whereas the Warriors have two.
“We talk about you have to earn respect,” Cronin said. “Respect is earned and you have to prove it. Last week was our first big division game and I know these senior hadn’t beaten Mariner. So it was kind of like you had to earn some respect in the league. That was kind of the mindset last week. Now it’s about proving it and earning more respect.”
Tonight’s game is the biggest on the schedule to date for the Bruins, though they better get used to playing meaningful games in the ultra-competitive Wesco South.
“Every game in our league matters,” Cronin said. “We talked about this being a five week test for us. Every week it’s a new test. We are going to treat it like a test. We are going to study and make sure we watch film and make sure we work hard on the field. And then Friday, you’re basically taking a test to say how we do, but we are preparing as best we can for it.”
In Cronin’s first season, improvement was rapid, but the team didn’t have to deal with the outside expectations the way they have this season. With a lot of returning talent and the arrival of transfer quarterback Josh Smith, many expected the Bruins would build off of their five wins from a season ago and be competitive in the league.
With a win tonight, they just might be the favorite to win it.
“My biggest concern is that they don’t go out and play and that they play nervous, which kind of happened in week one when we played Shorewood,” Cronin said. “So hopefully they go out and play and have some fun. It’s cool to see all of the hard work of the kids kind of paying off to be able to be in a position to play a game like this.”
Cronin knows his team can’t play nervous as they did against Shorewood if they are going to have a chance to hand the Warriors their first loss of the season.
“It’s going to take our best effort to be successful on Friday, no doubt about it,” Cronin said. “Edmonds-Woodway is a very, very good team.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cascade vs. Ed-Woodway
Where: Edmonds Stadium
When: Today, 5 p.m.
Key players: Cascade—Josh Smith, QB; Kejuan Coleman, RB; KJ Brady, WR/DB; Kaleb Dobson, WR/DB; Randin Crecelius, OL/DL; Nate Elliot, RB/LB. Edmonds-Woodway—Mac McLachlan, RB/LB; Davis Giles, QB; Junior Opoku-Mensah, RB; Scott Myricks, WR/DB; Theo Lebesis, TE/DL; Haedyn McGrath, OL/DL.
Kamiak vs. Jackson
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
When: Today, 8 p.m.
Breakdown: Could this be a must-win for the Timberwolves? That’s a shocking statement for a team that was flying high and ranked No. 7 in the state just two weeks ago, but losses to Glacier Peak and Edmonds-Woodway has Jackson reeling. Throw in the fact that two losses in a brutally tough Wesco 4A South could leave the Timberwolves outside looking in when it comes playoff time and this becomes a huge game for Joel Vincent’s charges. Kamiak, meanwhile, has won three straight after losing its opener to Meadowdale and has won the past two games without star running back Austin Hall, who was sidelined with a foot injury. But Hall is expected to play tonight and could give the Knights a big boost. Jackson won this game 21-20 last season.
Arlington vs. Snohomish
Where: Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Breakdown: When there’s only four league games, each one of them is huge and this is a big one for both teams. Arlington is coming off of a hard-fought win over Mount Vernon and has the confidence of a team that has won two straight. Snohomish remains winless four games into coach Kai Smalley’s inaugural campaign but have had legitimate chances to win in close losses to Glacier Peak and Redmond. Arlington needs this game to keep its league title hopes alive, while the Panthers must win to keep hopes of a playoff chance alive. Snohomish has to keep tabs on Arlington wide receiver Max Gray, who has had big games in the past two Eagles’ wins.
Radio: KRKO, 1380 AM
Stanwood vs. Oak Harbor
Where: Wildcat Memorial Stadium,
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Breakdown: With all due respect to both teams this may be a battle for second place in the Wesco 3A North. Stanwood’s win over Marysville Getchell has positioned the Spartans well in the league standings while Oak Harbor at 3-1 has been impressive so far this season and is coming off of a big win over Everett, its first league victory. Stanwood’s defense put up an impressive showing against the Chargers last week and has allowed just two touchdowns over the past six quarters. Oak Harbor, meanwhile, counters with two of the top five running backs in Wesco 3A in Dejon Devroe (530 yards, six TDs) and Julian Faralan (380, 1).
So. Whidbey vs. Lakewood
Where: Dick Cardinal Stadium, Marysville
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Breakdown: In a year in which the Cascade Conference is up for grabs, these two teams have a decent shot at a league title. South Whidbey lost to King’s last Friday night, its first loss of the season, and faces another tough challenge in the unbeaten Cougars tonight. Lakewood is coming off of a shutout win over Archbishop Murphy and has cruised to wins by a combined score of 163-41 in its first four games. Lakewood is led by quarterback Blake Watts, who has thrown for 564 yards and nine touchdowns. The Cougars will have to corral South Whidbey quarterback Nick French, who has thrown for 442 yards and rushed for another 347 yards.
Sultan at King’s
Where: Woolsey Stadium, Shoreline
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Breakdown: Both of these teams are atop the conference standings having won their first two league games, but this is really the stiffest test for both teams. Sultan hasn’t faced an offense as potent as the Knights’ so far this season and playing at Woolsey Stadium is never an easy task. Sultan must stop King’s running back Chris Yand, who has rushed for 312 yards and four touchdowns, and Koa Wilkins, who has passed for 451 yards and six touchdowns.