By Rich Myhre Herald Writer
EDMONDS — In a showdown between the last two undefeated Western Conference 4A football teams, Edmonds-Woodway used a touchdown right before halftime and another TD right after halftime to get past Cascade, 28-14, on Friday night.
It was enough to put a smile on the face of Warriors head coach John Gradwohl ? sort of.
Though pleased with the victory, “I thought we played like we practiced, and we didn’t have a great week of practice,” Gradwohl said. “We got away with one and hopefully we’ll learn from that.
“You get to 3-0, 4-0 and you start getting happy, thinking like you’ve done something,” he added. “But we play a game every Friday and somebody’s coming to beat us.”
The Bruins, meanwhile, “are very aggressive,” Gradwohl said. “They’re a well-coached team. They did a nice job.”
Edmonds-Woodway was led by senior running back Junior Opoku-Mensah, who gouged the Bruins for 150 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown despite battling a head cold and some nagging injuries. Opoku-Mensah had 100 yards in the first half, and then scored the team’s final touchdown early in the second half on a 1-yard burst through the line.
“My (offensive) line helped me out a lot,” Opoku-Mensah said. “They did great. I couldn’t do it without them. They blocked really well. They always keep pushing and pushing.”
“Junior has never had a bad game, but this wasn’t one of his better games,” Gradwohl said. “He’s fighting off (injuries) and an illness, and I just didn’t think he saw the field as well as he normally does. But I thought he ran hard. His effort was awesome.”
The teams traded touchdowns through the first two periods, with Edmonds-Woodway twice going in front and Cascade twice getting a tying TD. The Warriors finally broke on top to stay late in the second quarter, 21-14, with an 11-play, 71-yard drive, their longest of the game.
Opoku-Mensah had six carries for 39 yards on the march, and quarterback Davis Giles had pass completions for 20 and 12 yards, with the latter being a flat pass to running back Mac McLachlan for the go-ahead touchdown 10 seconds before halftime.
After the Warriors scored early in third quarter, Cascade mounted a promising drive of its own. The Bruins had a third-and-3 at the EW 8, but quarterback Josh Smith was tackled for a 9-yard loss as he scrambled in the backfield and a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“That was a big series for us,” said Cascade coach Joe Cronin. “We couldn’t put points on the board.”
Even more costly, the Bruins had their next two possessions halted by turnovers _ the first by a fumble, the second by an interception _ and they got the ball just once more in the game’s final moments, but were pinned deep in their territory.
In a game featuring undefeated teams, “you could tell that a team like Edmonds-Woodway has been in a situation like this before,” Cronin said. As for the resurgent Bruins, who are rebuilding their program after several recent losing seasons, “this is kind of our first situation in an atmosphere like that. So it’s a learning experience,” Cronin said.
The Bruins, who slipped to 4-1, managed just 39 yards on the ground, largely because they had eight rushing plays that lost a total of 53 yards. Smith completed eight of 21 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown, while running 1 yard for Cascade’s other TD.
“(Smith) is a special kid,” Gradwohl said. “He’s a handful. ? But we got some key stops when we needed them. I thought our defense really did an excellent job.”
The 5-0 Warriors face another tough test next week against Kamiak, and Opoku-Mensah expects his team to be ready.
“Every week we get better and every week we’re going to continue to build,” he said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re not even close to our potential yet. We’re going to keep working hard.”
At Edmonds Stadium
Cascade 0 14 0 0 — 14
Edmonds-Woodway 7 14 7 0 — 28
Edmonds-Woodway—Giles 2 run (Fatty kick)
Cascade—Smith 1 run (Bowlden kick)
Edmonds-Woodway—McLachlan 2 run (Fatty kick)
Cascade—Dobson 35 pass from Smith (Bowlden kick)
Edmonds-Woodway—McLachlan 12 pass from Giles (Fatty kick)
Edmonds-Woodway—Opoku-Mensah 1 run (Fatty kick)