EVERETT — Four weeks ago, the Everett football team headed into the locker room trailing Edmonds-Woodway 34-0 at halftime.
The Seagulls were on their way to a second blowout loss in three games, the other being a 46-0 non-league defeat to crosstown rival Cascade in the annual Battle of Broadway two weeks prior.
So with his team coming off another lackluster half of football, third-year Everett coach Doug Trainor challenged his players.
“We got on them,” Trainor said. “We felt like they didn’t come to play, and that week was not their best week of preparation. They took some things for granted and they kind of went back to what we call ‘old Everett.’ They let the adversity kick them in the teeth.
“We shook it up at halftime a little bit in that one,” he added. “We’re not a big ‘rah, rah’ anything here. Everything’s just work and get it done. But we had to shake it up. And since then, these guys have been pretty electric.”
Trainor said his team responded by playing inspired football in the second half. And the Seagulls carried that momentum into the ensuing weeks.
Since then, Everett (5-2 overall, 3-1 Wesco 3A South) has won three straight games over Snohomish, Shorecrest and Marysville Pilchuck by an average margin of 20.3 points per contest.
“We’ve been a different football team ever since,” Trainor said.
“The next game, without prodding by anybody, they changed their complete pregame routine. Everything’s been silent, quiet — everybody’s focused. It’s pretty cool. They were like, ‘we’ve got to change how we go about our business.’”
The three-game win streak has Everett on the verge of a milestone the program hasn’t achieved in seven years.
With a victory over Meadowdale on Friday night, the Seagulls can secure their first trip to the district crossover round since 2010.
“That’d (be) huge for us,” Everett senior Aldo Yeo said. “That’s everything that we’ve worked for and that’s always something that we’ve wanted to do. Being the first (group) to do it in a really long time — it’d mean a lot to us.”
After three consecutive one-win seasons from 2012 to 2014, Trainor took over the program and guided Everett to back-to-back five-win campaigns the past two years.
“These guys worked really hard the last couple of years just to get to 5-5 — just to be a team that people didn’t overlook on their schedule (and) didn’t schedule for homecoming,” Trainor said.
The Seagulls have reached five wins again this season, but are looking to take the next step. Everett closes the regular season against Meadowdale and last-place Lynnwood.
“We hit the point where we were a 5-5 team and we couldn’t really get over the hump,” Yeo said. “So that was something that we really emphasized this year — to get over 5-5 and into the playoffs.”
Everett’s three-game win streak has been keyed by strong second-half performances.
Each of those three games were within five points at halftime. But in the second half, the Seagulls outscored those three opponents by a combined 67-11 margin.
Against Snohomish, Everett broke a 14-14 halftime tie by outscoring the Panthers 24-0 in the second half.
The following week, the Seagulls trailed Shorecrest 14-13 in the second quarter before outscoring the Scots 20-3 the rest of the way.
Last week, Everett snapped a 14-14 halftime tie against Marysville Pilchuck by pulling away with 29 straight points.
Trainor credits the second-half success to his team’s focus during halftime.
“Our kids are really cool now about coming in (at halftime) and really being dialed in to the coaches, paying attention to exactly the things that we’re trying to fix,” Trainor said.
“We do it every year and we do it every game at halftime, but this team soaks it up and they apply it. And that’s been the big difference.”
Everett’s players also pointed to their new flexbone rushing attack, which they said can wear down opponents in the second half.
“Our offense is really a smashmouth (attack) and it really tires out the defense, especially late in the game,” Yeo said. “Just the way our offense is, it takes a toll on the other team.”
This past offseason, the Seagulls transitioned from a spread passing attack to a run-heavy flexbone system.
“Part of being at Everett is you don’t really know what you’re getting from the eighth grade to the freshman years,” Trainor said. “So we kind of just decided that we weren’t going to play that game anymore of crossing our fingers that we get a quarterback that can chuck the ball down the field.
“We’re going to put ourselves in an offense where all we have to do is have a really good athlete, and we’ll teach him to play quarterback (in the flexbone).”
Junior running back Christian Balmer leads Everett’s rushing attack with 842 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging 120 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Gabe Maggio has added 430 yards rushing and six scores while helping facilitate the transition to a brand-new offense.
“When (Gabe) learned we were going to run this offense, he went and studied it on his own,” Trainor said. “He went and watched as many Navy, Army, Georgia Tech and Air Force games as he could. And by the time we got to spring ball, he was already well-versed.
“He’s a coach on the field,” Trainor added. “Everybody says that, but it’s legitimate. He knows what every guy is supposed to do, which (was) huge for us because it took a long time for our kids to grasp the offense.”
The offense struggled at times earlier in the season, especially while fumbling eight times in the blowout loss to Cascade.
But over the past three weeks, Everett is averaging 38 points per game. During that span, Trainor said his team hasn’t committed a single turnover.
The Seagulls have come a long way since the early-season blowout losses to Cascade and Edmonds-Woodway.
“It really humbled us as a team,” Yeo said of those defeats. “It showed us that we still had a lot of work to do, and I feel like that’s carried out throughout the season.
“Every day of practice, we’re out there working. We just have that mindset that we can always get better — we can always improve. And we’re just carrying it out so far.”