Smarr has ignited Edmonds-Woodway passing game

It took three years but Edmonds-Woodway senior Jason Smarr finally transitioned from tennis player to football star.

Determined to have no regrets and believing he could finally handle the physical and mental challenges of the gridiron, Smarr — who also plays basketball for the Warriors — made the switch this year to football.

And the Edmonds-Woodway football team is glad he did. In the four games since he made his first varsity start on Oct. 11, Smarr has caught 11 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Smarr has the eighth-highest receiving yards in Wesco 4A and is averaging about 126 yards per game while quickly becoming a favorite target of Warriors quarterback Davis Giles.

“I was pretty shocked when I saw it,” Smarr said of his stats.

Throughout his high school career, Smarr said that Edmonds-Woodway head coach John Gradwohl “has always been persistent” about trying to get him to play football, along with many of the Warriors’ players.

“If you ever watched Jason play basketball you could just tell he’s a great athlete,” Gradwohl said. “He’s also a great tennis player which is in the fall.”

Playing football meant giving up tennis, which runs in the Smarr family. Smarr’s father, mother and sister all play tennis.

But this year posed the last chance for Smarr to play high school football.

“(Tennis) was kind of the thing my family did,” Smarr said. “? The main reason why I played football is I wanted to go out of high school without any regrets and I knew I’d regret not playing in high school, under the lights on Friday nights. You can always play tennis in men’s leagues after high school.”

Smarr began the year playing junior varsity while learning the nuances of the game, and when varsity receiver Jack Shull got injured Smarr said Gradwohl called him and let him know, “‘Jason, it’s your turn. I’m going to give you a shot,’” Smarr said Gradwohl told him.

In his first varsity start against Kamiak in a showdown of what was then the top two teams in Wesco 4A South, Smarr caught four passes for 190 yards, including touchdown catches of 45, 79 and 44 yards.

“The first three times I was targeted I scored touchdowns. That was pretty surreal,” Smarr said. “That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

Gradwohl wasn’t surprised by his receiver’s success.

“I knew he was capable of big things,” Gradwohl said. “Obviously, you don’t think his first three catches are going to be long touchdowns. But I knew he would make plays. ? What he does after the catch has been really nice. He’s made some great runs after the catch.”

Smarr’s emergence has helped the Edmonds-Woodway offense become even more balanced. Along with Smarr, the Warriors have senior running back Junior Opoku-Mensah, who is averaging 161 yards per game on the ground.

“We’re clearly a balanced offense now,” Smarr said. “We stick to the same game plan we always do. We run to pass and pass to run. If they call the big play to me then we try that.”

For the first time in his varsity football career, Smarr had to deal with a loss last Friday when Edmonds-Woodway (8-1) fell to Lake Stevens in the Wesco 4A championship game. Smarr said that the Warriors, including himself, are using that as motivation in their quad-district playoff game against Federal Way tonight.

“I feel for Federal Way because I would not want to be them this week,” Smarr said. “They’re going to have to deal with a pounding that is motivated by the loss at Lake Stevens. We felt like we should’ve gone in there and beaten Lake Stevens. We’re motivating ourselves by using our last loss, our first loss of the season.”

Gradwohl is glad to hear Smarr and his team take that approach into the Warriors’ quad-district playoff game. He said there are two ways a team can go after a tough loss, and being motivated by it is the ideal path.

“Every team’s personality is different,” Gradwohl said. “We’ve talked about it. Some teams have a hangover after a tough emotional loss, and some teams get angry and they’re the last team you want to play after a loss. Hopefully, we’re the latter.”

Federal Way vs. Edmonds-Woodway

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Edmonds Stadium

Winner receives: State berth and the winner of Jefferson/Skyline

Scoreczar pick: (For more on the Scoreczar, click here) This game should not be played in Week 10 as both teams have been ranked for much of the year. The computer adored the E-W defense, but the Lake Stevens score has put it on alert. Federal Way is talented offensively, but vulnerable on defense. If the Warriors can shore up whatever defensive issues it had last week, they’ll come away with a 33-21 win.

Swaney pick: Federal Way, 31-27

Lommers pick: Federal Way, 21-14

Krueger pick: E-W, 31-28

Webcast: mltnews.com

Twitter: @heraldnetpreps

Monroe vs. Camas

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Doc Harris Stadium, Camas

Winner receives: State berth and the winner of Cascade/Auburn Riverside

Scoreczar pick: Camas made it to the 4A State Championship game last year with a junior heavy squad. Those juniors are all seniors now and are hungry for another shot at the title. Monroe has had a great second half to their season. The Bearcats have earned respect, but unfortunately will run into a team that is talented, physical and breathing fire. Camas 48 Monroe 0. No disrespect, Camas is just that good.

Swaney pick: Camas, 58-6

Lommers pick: Camas, 72-7

Krueger pick: Camas, 63-21

Wilson vs. Glacier Peak

When: Today, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium

Winner receives: State berth and the winner of Ferndale/Bellevue

Scoreczar pick: Computer has refused to embrace the Grizzlies all year. It doesn’t like their points allowed figures which currently sits at nearly 25 points per game. Wilson has been a surprise team and has scored in bunches, but when confronted with resistance can’t find the right gears. If allowed to set the tone offensively, the Rams will run away from GP. Computer says 31-10 Wilson.

Swaney pick: Glacier Peak, 37-32

Lommers pick: Wilson, 28-27

Krueger pick: Glacier Peak, 24-21

Webcast: stspn.com

Twitter: @krueger_david

Sehome vs. Lakewood

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Dick Cardinal Stadium

Winner receives: State berth and game against Dist. 5/6 3

Scoreczar pick: Sehome is interesting, it’s tough sledding up in the Northwest Conference but despite their 4-5 record, the Mariners have scored more points than allowed. Lakewood is solid, however and will prevail. Sehome isn’t going to make it very easy for them. Expect this to be a hard fought 32-8 Lakewood victory.

Swaney pick: Lakewood, 29-10

Lommers pick: Lakewood, 56-7

Krueger pick: Lakewood, 35-10

Twitter: @swaney_aaron79

Sultan at Lynden

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Lynden H.S.

Winner receives: State berth and the winner of Kingston/Franklin Pierce

Scoreczar pick: Computer doesn’t factor human element into its calculations, but has seen a drop in offensive production since a human event negatively affected the Lions. Still, Lynden is always multi-dimensional and how this town produces so many athletic kids it’s beyond me. Good coaching plus good genetics makes another trip to Tacoma likely. Lynden 35-6.

Swaney pick: Lynden, 40-12

Lommers pick: Lynden, 56-14

Krueger pick: Lynden, 42-28

Eatonville vs. King’s

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Woolsey Stadium

Winner receives: State berth

Scoreczar pick: Eatonville hit some adversity with its game against third-ranked Cascade Christian and didn’t seem to handle it well. King’s only real adversity came in the way of no-shame narrow losses to 2A powers Lynden and Lakewood. King’s is playing at that level, Eatonville is not. Computer still thinks Eatonville keeps it relatively close. King’s 24-11.

Swaney pick: King’s, 20-9

Lommers pick: King’s, 42-14

Krueger pick: King’s, 28-27

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