LAKE STEVENS — Lakewood’s Donovan Evans was beat up. He had pulled ligaments in his ankle and a strained neck muscle.
And he still rushed for 163 yards and got his team to the state tournament.
Evans accounted for two of the Cougars’ three touchdowns as third-ranked Lakewood fought off a scare from Sedro-Woolley and advanced to the 2A state tournament with a 21-14 win over the Cubs in a District 1 playoff game.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Lakewood head coach Dan Teeter said of Evans. “He’s one of the hardest workers you’ll see out there on the field. He doesn’t ever quit.”
Evans caught a 61-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Justin Peterson on Lakewood’s first offensive play. It came right after the defense forced a three-and-out by Sedro-Woolley to start the game.
The Cougars, who became the first team in school history to go to the state tournament in back-to-back years, thought that might jump start their always dangerous offense. Instead it turned out to be the difference in the game.
“At the end of the game it turns out that was huge,” Teeter said. “Early on we were feeling like maybe we’re going to start rolling. We’ve done that in past games where (we) score early. Obviously it was a big play for us because at the end, we needed every single point we could get.”
Peterson added an 11-yard touchdown run minutes later and a 3-yard TD run by Evans with 4:50 left in the second quarter put Lakewood up 21-7. It turned out to be the last touchdown of the night for the Cougars, who were held scoreless in the second half.
The Cubs, meanwhile, continued to run the ball right at Lakewood. Sedro-Woolley running back Shawn Kennedy collected 93 of his 149 yards in the second half, and accounted for both Cubs’ touchdowns with runs of 1 and 2 yards.
“Honestly, I think we underestimated them,” Evans said. “And it showed tonight.”
Lakewood (9-1) got all it could handle from Sedro-Woolley (4-6), the No. 4 seed out the Northwest Conference. The Cougars were facing a familiar foe in Cubs head coach Dave Ward, who had previously coached at Archbishop Murphy before moving to Sedro-Woolley this year.
Last season, the Cougars gave Ward his first Cascade Conference loss at Murphy. This year, they gave him a playoff defeat with Sedro-Woolley.
“We feel like we’ve got a good read on him, he obviously feels like he’s got a good read on us,” Teeter said. “It’s always fun to match wits with a very successful coach.”
Teeter said it was also a little weird playing a Cubs team he used to coach. He taught at Sedro-Woolley High School for nine years, where he coached softball and football.
“It was the first time I’ve faced them,” he said. “That was a little different.”
Despite the subplots, Lakewood was able to come out on top, thanks largely to Evans who gained his 163 yards on 22 carries. He also had three receptions for 69 yards. He got those numbers despite missing several minutes in the third quarter while being checked out on the sidelines after a hit to the neck.
“I just got hit without expecting it and it kind of jammed my neck a little bit,” Evans said. “It kind of strained a muscle in my neck.”
Was there ever a chance he wasn’t going back into the game? “No.” he said.
Peterson completed 10-of-17 passes for 157 yards with a touchdown and an interception for Lakewood. He added 94 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Turnovers plagued the Cougars, who fumbled the ball away on the Sedro-Woolley 9-yard line and threw their first interception of the season that wasn’t on a trick play.
“Kids are human, they’re going to make mistakes,” Teeter said. “And they’ve done a great job all year of not doing that, of protecting the ball. It made it close and we escaped with one where we had some turnovers and we’re thankful to escape with it. It gives us something to refocus on and to really come out to work hard on next week.”
Lakewood didn’t immediately know who its next opponent would be, but Teeter said, “Whoever we face it’s going to be an excellent team.”
He said the Cougars are going to refocus and practice hard this week to try to eliminate the turnovers in next week’s game.
“We’re thankful to get out of this one with a win,” he said. “We do this any point from here on and we’re going to be done playing. I want to congratulate the boys. They’re the first team in Lakewood history to go on to state two years in a row, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. And this week we’ve got to get after it.”
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Lake–Donovan Evans 61 pass from Justin Peterson (Peterson run)
Lake–Peterson 11 run (kick failed)
SW–Shawn Kennedy 1 run (Francisco Tovar kick)
Lake–Evans 3 run (Randy Anaya kick)
SW–Kennedy 2 run (Tovar kick)
Records—Sedro-Woolley 4-6. Lakewood 9-1.