EDMONDS — The Snohomish football team’s offense may have wavered Friday night with some stalled drives and a few costly first-half turnovers. Even running back Keegan Stich, by the standard he’s set, didn’t have the overwhelming performance he’s capable of.
But there was no inconsistency in the Panthers’ defense. The unit dominated from start to finish.
After a sluggish first half, Snohomish’s offense found some rhythm and the defense took care of the rest during its 38-6 Wesco 3A North win over Meadowdale at Edmonds Stadium.
“I thought our defense played lights out tonight,” Snohomish coach Kai Smalley said. “I was very proud of the way they played, because that is a good team. That is a good offense. They are capable of making huge plays really quickly, and our guys stuck the course. I was proud of the way we played overall.”
Snohomish stuffed the run, limiting the Mavericks to 54 rushing yards on 33 attempts, and Meadowdale quarterback Nate Hebert faced constant pressure throughout the night.
Stich finished with 106 yards and a touchdown on 22 rushes, and he also returned a blocked field goal 95 yards for a fourth-quarter score. Tyler Massena offered a great compliment to the powerful back, rushing 10 times for 140 yards and a touchdown.
After giving up 28 points to Glacier Peak during Week 2, the Panthers (3-1 overall, 2-0 Wesco 3A North) have allowed six points their last two games.
Although Snohomish finished with 38 points, that number seemed hardly obtainable following a first-half plagued with costly errors.
The Panthers and Meadowdale (1-1, 2-2) combined put the ball on the turf eight times during the first 24 minutes, while each team lost two fumbles. But following two lost fumbles and two punts to open the game, Snohomish engineered a scoring drive on its fifth possession. The Panthers ventured on a 10-play, 55-yard drive and finally broke through in the most unlikely scenario.
Facing a fourth-and-17 on the Mavericks’ 25-yard line, Langdon Orgill got a one-on-one matchup with junior wideout Payton Campbell and a Meadowdale defensive back. He gave Campbell a chance, lobbing a ball up to the junior on a go-route along the far sideline, and Campbell made a great catch in the end zone, tip-toeing the sideline for a 25-yard score with 11 minutes, 44 seconds to play on the second quarter.
Snohomish kicker Conner Smith extended the Panthers’ lead to 10-0, putting a kick through the uprights from 25 yards out with 2:38 left in the first half.
“The biggest thing we told them, when we had some dropped balls, was we are going to come back to you,” Smalley said. “We had some fumbles. We are still going to come back to you. We trust our guys, and they learn from their mistakes. We had to figure out what we needed to do to attack them better, and obviously that worked out for us.”
Meadowdale’s offense in the first half twice got inside Snohomish’s 40, but both times the drive ended with turnovers. Hebert, who finished with 177 passing yards and a touchdown, moved the ball at times through the air, but the Mavericks’ running game proved ineffective. Meadowdale amassed just 33 rush yards on 14 first-half rushes. The absence of senior running back Jashon Butler, who was in street clothes, didn’t help matters.
Massena, who ripped off a 29-yard run during the first half, made another big play early in the third quarter to give the Panthers a 17-0 lead. The junior back took a fly sweep from left-to-right, got the edge and showcased his premier speed, dashing down the sideline for a 52-yard touchdown with 8:35 to play in the third quarter.
“He’s a kid we’ve been waiting to come up and run that fly sweep with,” Smalley said. “He’s such a fast kid. Especially last year as a sophomore watching him run track, we were just drooling at the fact we know we could run jet sweep with him, and he is such a good counter punch to Keegan. It has to keep teams honest on the edge.”
Stich may have been bottled up for much of the game, but he showed why he’s regarded as one of the best athletes in Wesco during a wild 95-yard blocked field goal return for touchdown.
Meadowdale kicker Will Schafer’s 42-yard field goal attempt was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but the ball’s momentum carried it right to Stich, who was waiting near the goal line. The senior back sprinted down the far sideline, worked his blocks and cut back across the field near the 50 before outracing the rest of the Mavericks’ field goal team for a score and a dramatic 10-point swing.
Less than 30 seconds later it was Schafer who finally got the Mavericks on the board. The senior receiver got open down the middle of the field, caught a ball in perfect stride from Hebert and dashed the rest of the way for a 58-yard touchdown that cut Snohomish’s lead to 24-6 with 8:25 to play in the fourth quarter.
Stich and running back Tyler Larson capped the Panthers’ night with a pair of rushing scores. Stich’s came from 18 yards out, and Larson scored on a 17-yard run that gave Snohomish a 38-6 lead with 3:54 to play in the fourth quarter.