LYNNWOOD — With three straight losses to close the regular season, Meadowdale’s football team hardly looked like a playoff contender.
The Mavericks sure look like one now.
A week after snapping the losing streak with a quad-district playoff win against Timberline, Meadowdale opened the state playoffs on Friday night with a resounding 24-0 victory over Lakes at Edmonds District Stadium. The Mavericks took advantage of two turnovers and a short punt to score 17 first-quarter points, and then used another turnover to set up a second-period touchdown for a lead that stood up through a scoreless second half.
With the victory, Meadowdale advances to the state quarterfinals and a road game next week against the winner of tonight’s Marysville Pilchuck-Eastside Catholic game.
Even after consecutive defeats against Eastlake, Glacier Peak and Oak Harbor, “we knew we could (bounce back),” said first-year Mavericks head coach Mike Don. “We weren’t playing our best football, we were playing some really good teams, and we lost three in a row.
“But our kids really regrouped and rallied,” he said. “They decided, ‘You know what, we’re a better football team than this. We can do better. We can make a run.’ And we’ve been able to do that.”
This will be only the fifth trip to the quarterfinals for a Meadowdale football team, “so it’s a real big accomplishment for our kids,” Don said.
The Mavericks used an early interception from defensive back Josiah Evans to set up a 34-yard field goal by place-kicker Brett Schafer. Minutes later the Mavericks had the ball again, this time after defensive lineman Marzel Simmons recovered a Lakes fumble.
Beginning a drive from the Lancers 49, Meadowdale reached the end zone in six plays with running back Malik Braxton gaining the final yard, one play after he dashed 28 yards to the Lakes 1.
A short Lancers punt gave the Mavericks terrific field position a third time, and this possession covered 24 yards in six plays with quarterback Jeremiah Evans sneaking for the final yard with 22 seconds to play in the first quarter.
An interception by linebacker Jimmie Bruders midway through the second period set up Meadowdale’s final touchdown. Beginning from their 46, the Mavericks used 12 plays to score, with Jeremiah Evans passing 14 yards to tight end Charlie White, who made a dandy leaping reception in the end zone with five seconds left before halftime.
Meadowdale’s defense helped preserve the shutout by getting two more turnovers in the second half _ an interception and a recovered fumble _ giving the Mavericks five for the game.
Lakes was certainly hurt by the loss of starting quarterback Nick Webster, who scrambled 46 yards in the first quarter before getting pushed out of bounds. Webster ended up hurting his left knee on the play and did not return.
The Mavericks also played most of the game without one of their top players. Braxton had eight carries for 60 yards in the first half, but did not play in the second half because of the flu, which caused him to miss school on Thursday.
“He tried to battle through it, but he just couldn’t do it,” Don said. “He was throwing up on the sideline.”
In his place, the Mavericks turned to Rory Spillum, who gained 117 yards on 34 carries. He had 88 yards on his final 13 attempts.
“I feel good,” Spillum said. “I feel like I played better in the second half than I did in the first half. And (the offensive line) really stepped up and made some good holes out there.”
Regardless of who the Mavericks face next week, Don expects a tough battle. “It never gets easier the farther you go in the playoffs,” he pointed out. “There’s a reason those teams are still playing.
“But you know what, we’re one of the top eight teams in 3A and we’re still playing. And if we can continue to run the ball the way we are, and if we continue to play defense and create turnovers, I like our odds.”
At Edmonds Stadium
Lakes 0 0 0 0 — 0
Meadowdale 17 7 0 0 — 24
M—Schafer 34 FG
M—Braxton 1 run (Schafer kick)
M—Jeremiah Evans 1 run (Schafer kick)
M—White 14 pass from Jeremiah Evans (Schafer kick)
Records—Lakes is 4-7, Meadowdale is 7-4