By David Pan Weekly Herald sports editor
EDMONDS — Edmonds-Woodway made sure its seniors’ final home game was memorable.
Junior running back Desmond Young rushed for 268 yards on 30 carries and scored two touchdowns as the Warriors defeated South Kitsap 29-19 in a quad-district football playoff game Nov. 4 at Edmonds Stadium.
The victory sends the Warriors (6-4 overall) into a first-round state match-up against No. 1 ranked Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma at 1 p.m., Nov. 12 at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Edmonds-Woodway’s win came one week after a tough 35-31 loss to Lake Stevens in the Wesco 4A championship game.
“We didn’t want our seniors’ year to end early,” Young said. “We wanted to make it to state. That’s been our goal all year. … We had that loss to Lake Stevens. We said we’re not feeling that again. We’re not going to blow it. We stepped up. We know what we had to do to win this game. We got it done.”
After being flagged for 15 infractions for 149 yards against the Vikings, the Warriors played a much cleaner game with only seven penalties for 36 yards. Only two of those seven were false starts by the offensive line.
“When we run the ball as much as we do, you need to have down situations not like first and 20 or third and 15,” said Edmonds-Woodway head coach John Gradwohl. “That’s not what a running team is good at. So I thought we did a better job of managing the game that way. … Obviously, we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
Avoiding penalties was a point of emphasis at practice in the days before Friday’s game.
“The coaches got on us,” said senior running back Mark Coutee. “We stopped making stupid decisions and started making smart ones like the team that we are.”
It’s been quite a postseason for Young, who rushed for 291 yards and four touchdowns in the loss to Lake Stevens. At 5-foot-10 155 pounds, Young isn’t exactly an imposing physical presence in the backfield.
But looks can be a little deceiving.
“He’s not a big guy,” Gradwohl said. “He’s got great leg drive. He runs hard. He’s also fast enough that if you don’t tackle him, he’s gone. You’ve really got to bottle him up and that’s tough for a lot of teams. If he breaks one tackle, you pay for it big.”
Sophomore quarterback Davis Giles has been a teammate of Young’s since the seventh grade. In his opinion, Young’s heart is what stands out.
“He has a big fire in his belly,” said Giles, who completed 4 of 6 passes and ran for a touchdown. “He has a lot of passion. That might be one of the best things about it. He had a drive in himself.”
Though Giles finished with only 37 yards through the air, he showed a veteran presence in his first playoff game.
“He didn’t throw the ball a lot but he calls a lot of the stuff on the line,” Gradwohl said. “His job was to manage the game. I thought he did a heck of a job.”
Aside from Giles’ week to week progress, what Gradwohl likes about his sophomore quarterback is his ability to learn.
“His savvy is improving every week. If he makes a mistake, it’s like he learns from it instantly, Gradwohl said. “He doesn’t need to make the same mistake three or four times. … The kids really look to him even though he’s a sophomore. He’s the leader of the offense.”
Coutee finished with 73 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. The Warriors rushed for 380 yards.
“When (Young) is out resting … here comes Mark doing almost the same thing,” Gradwohl said. “It’s been real nice to have those two guys as a one-two punch.”
Edmonds-Woodway battled back from some early adversity after a tipped pass was returned 3 yards for a touchdown by Wolves defensive end Chase Lopez in the first quarter. The Warriors tied the score at 7 on a 1-yard TD run by Young. In the second quarter, South Kitsap retook the lead when quarterback Eddie Meisner found wide receiver on a 36-yard scoring strike. The PAT was missed when the holder could not handle the snap and was tackled. Giles then scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to give his team a 14-13 lead at halftime.
The Wolves again retook the lead on a 6-yard pass from Meisner to Chase Lopez before Young scored on a 41-yard run. A successful 2-point conversion gave Edmonds-Woodway a 22-19 advantage at the end of the third quarter. Coutee wrapped up the scoring with a 2-yard TD run.
“We really dug deep into our hearts and stuck with each other,” Giles said.