EDMONDS — The Edmonds-Woodway football team’s offense may have been depleted, but there was nothing wrong with the Warriors’ defense.
Edmonds-Woodway’s defense put the clamps down on Gig Harbor, and the Warriors earned their first trip to the state tournament since 2011 as they defeated the Tides 24-6 in a 3A Week 10 playoff game Friday night at a frigid Edmonds Stadium.
Edmonds-Woodway was missing several key offensive performers, including star running back Capassio Cherry who was lost to injury the previous week. But senior quarterback Reilly Chappell ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third, and that proved more than enough for a Warriors defense that limited Gig Harbor to just 142 yards.
“Our defense has been great since the start of the season,” said senior linebacker Dominic Lawrence, who not only marshaled the Warriors’ defense, but also filled in on offense to contribute 102 total yards. “It’s something that comes easy to us. We’ve got lots of chemistry on the defense, we’ve been playing since freshman year, so every time we go out there we know what we’re supposed to do.
”We played physical, we played hard,” Lawrence added. “That was a good team out there, but we played Warrior football and we got the W.”
Edmonds-Woodway (9-1), the No. 1 seed from the Wesco South and ranked eighth in the Associated Press 3A state poll, advanced to face either Eastside Catholic or Stanwood next weekend in the first round of state. The Crusaders, who are ranked No. 1, and the Spartans play Saturday afternoon.
”It feels great,” Chappell said about making it to state. “This is what we came in planning to do, this is what we were dreaming of. Now that we’ve accomplished it we just want to ride the train as far as it goes.”
Gig Harbor, the No. 4 seed from the South Sound Conference, finished its season 5-5.
The Warriors knew they needed their defense to step up Friday. Gig Harbor scored 92 points in its final two games to snag a playoff spot, and Tides quarterback Ryan Baerg was coming off a 354-yard, five-touchdown performance in a 50-21 victory over North Thurston. But Edmonds-Woodway held the Tides to just 105 passing yards, with the Warriors sacking Baerg six times and picking him off twice.
Meanwhile, the usually run-heavy Warriors needed to come up with new plan on offense with Cherry and others out. Using the committee approach, Lawrence gained 77 yards, Carlos Serrano gained 70 yards, and Bryan Sarnowski went for 25. The three carried the ball 35 times Friday after combining for just 44 carries in Edmonds-Woodway’s previous nine game.
“That was big,” said Chappell, who chipped in with 35 yards on 13 carries of his own. “Carlos, he hasn’t gotten real touches since the Kentwood game, which was Week 2. Bryan started playing running back three days ago. And those guys just played their hearts out. Couldn’t ask for anything more.”
Edmonds-Woodway’s defense was stifling in the first half, holding the Tides to just 57 yards of total offense and allowing Gig Harbor to cross midfield only once.
That allowed the Warriors’ offense time to figure out what worked with its makeshift backfield, and it was upon switching to the I-formation that Edmonds-Woodway started making ground. Several modest runs got the Warriors into scoring position late in the first quarter, and Chappell finished off the drive by rolling out to his right, seeing an opening, putting his head down and powering through tackles for a 7-yard touchdown scramble, staking Edmonds-Woodway to a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors used the same formula to double their lead midway through the second quarter. Inside handoffs to Lawrence and handoffs up the middle to Sarnowski set Edmonds-Woodway up at the 1-yard line, and again it was Chappell who polished off the drive as he scored on a quarterback sneak to make it 14-0, a lead the Warriors took into halftime.
Gig Harbor briefly got back into contention when the Warriors fumbled the kickoff to start the second half, and two plays later Jesse Valona scored on a 4-yard sweep to cut the lead to 14-6.
But that proved a mere blip on the radar as the Warriors’ defense shut the Tides out the rest of the game, and Chappell’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Jaro Rouse late in the third quarter essentially ended the game as a contest.