By David Krueger Herald Writer
EVERETT — Everyone at Goddard Stadium knew the Cougars were going to win. But until the final seconds, nobody had any idea which Cougars it would be.
The Capital Cougars recovered a fumble late in the game and took up a good chunk of clock with a scoring drive on their way to a 47-36 win over the Lakewood Cougars in a first-round state playoff game Saturday night.
“It’s intense,” said Lakewood head coach Dan Teeter. “There’s just no let down. It’s just intense the whole way, but you never feel like you’re out of it with the guys that we have. They’re just competitors. They just fight all the way and the talent level they have. I couldn’t be more proud of a group of young men than I am of these guys here.”
The back-and-forth game featured seven lead changes, a 350-yard rusher and occasional extra points after touchdowns. Both teams fought until the end, even after the late turnover. The Lakewood Cougars were on the sideline eager to make a big play on the next kickoff.
“There was no quit in us. We were telling them it’s time to show everybody a miracle,” Teeter said.
In the end, the Cougars couldn’t overcome Capital running back Kai Van Sickle. The senior carried the ball 50 times for 351 yards and all six of Capital’s offensive touchdowns. He accounted for the bulk of Capital’s 429 yards of offense.
“If you look at him he’s always just falling forward. He’s always getting those extra yards,” Teeter said. “He’s a competitor too. You can see the third and fourth quarter he was banged up and getting up slow. You know, I think if you give us another quarter we win that game, in my opinion.”
Capital struck first with a three-yard run by Van Sickle, but Lakewood responded with an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Brandon Stott on the ensuing kickoff. In fact, each team returned kickoffs for touchdowns.
Then it went Van Sickle run, Randy Anaya 41-yard field goal, Van Sickle run and a Donovan Evans 21-yard run. By the third quarter both teams saw points were going to be important and began going for two points after every touchdown to take a three-point lead instead of a two-point one.
But in the end, Lakewood fell a few points short.
“It’s really sad for that to end, but we built relationships that won’t ever end,” Teeter said. “This doesn’t diminish anything that these guys have done. These guys played a phenomenal season.”
Lakewood got a tough draw in Capital, a quarterfinalist in the 3A state tournament last year. The Cougars beat perennial 4A contenders Bothell, as well as W.F. West, Olympia and Newport this season. Teeter thought that the two teams would meet in the postseason, but was hoping it’d be later on.
“We just happened to face them the first week in state. We would have liked to see them two or three games in,” Teeter said. “It’s just luck of the draw. It doesn’t diminish losing to Capital. It’s just unfortunate it happened so early.”
In the final game of the season, Lakewood was led by its senior class. Justin Peterson had 90 receiving yards and two touchdowns along with 39 rushing yards and a touchdown. Evans finished with 12 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown. Kolby Schueller completed 15-of-27 for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Stott had six receptions for 89 yards to go along with the kickoff return.
“There’s no way we can replace those guys,” Teeter said. “The dedication they put in the team, the leadership they’ve shown.”
Obviously, the skill set they bring out there. But, at the same time, when you’re a program like we’re trying to develop, there’s guys waiting in the wings and I think we’ll be a very good football team next year. … But we’re going to miss those guys, there’s no doubt.”
Lakewood kept it close, but Capital took a 40-36 lead after a 15-play drive — 14 of which were rushing plays — that took up 6 minutes and 43 seconds. Lakewood’s crucial mistake on the following kickoff gave the ball back to Van Sickle and Capital.
They used another 4:59 to score their final touchdown, giving the ball back to Lakewood with an 11-point deficit and less than two minutes remaining.
“My heart goes out to the guys. We are a family. We’re more than a football team,” Teeter said. “We’re a family of guys and this marks the last night that we get to officially be together in that respect. So it breaks our hearts because we care a lot about those guys.”
At Goddard Stadium
C–Kai Van Sickle 3 run (pass failed)
L–Brandon Stott 80 kickoff return (Randy Anaya kick)
C–Van Sickle 7 run (Jakob Racimo from Derrick Becker)
L–Anaya 41 FG
C–Van Sickle 2 run (Joey Geraci)
L–Donovan Evans 21 run (pass failed)
L–Justin Peterson 17 pass from Schueller (pass failed)
C–Derek Chase 95 kickoff return (run failed)
L–Peterson 11 pass from Schueller (pass failed)
C–Van Sickle 2 run (run failed)
L–Peterson 7 run (Paulmer Gregory pass from Schueller)
C–Van Sickle 33 run (Becker kick)
C–Van Sickle 2 run (Joey Geraci kick)
Records–Capital 9-2 overall. Lakewood 9-2.