STANWOOD — Late in the third quarter, it looked like the Stanwood football team had a chance to finally end its 11 game losing streak to rival Arlington.
The Spartans, trailing 13-6, had their third drive of the second half start on the Eagles’ 9-yard line after Isaiah Hughes returned a short kickoff 45 yards.
But with its back against the wall, the Arlington defense held strong, recorded two tackles for loss and forced Stanwood to settle for a 32-yard field-goal attempt that fell short.
“Unbelievable effort,” said Arlington coach Greg Dailer, who also noted Andrew Bryant’s touchdown-saving tackle on the kick return. “Coach (Judd) Hunter, our defensive coordinator, challenged them to (be tough), and they were. That was fantastic.”
Ten plays and 80 yards later, the Eagles were in the end zone thanks to a 7 of 7 series from quarterback Trent Nobach, capped by a 7-yard TD pass to Levi Younger. Arlington never looked back on its way to a 12th consecutive Stilly Cup victory, beating Stanwood 27-6 Friday night at Bob Larson Stadium.
“It’s crazy to think about that I was 5 years old (the last time Stanwood beat Arlington),” Arlington senior linebacker Quintin Yon-Wagner said. “To have that legacy and keep it going all the way through my senior year is just crazy to think about. It means a lot to me.”
Yon-Wagner and the Arlington defense were key in keeping the streak alive. Arlington (3-1, 2-1 Wesco 3A North) held Stanwood (1-3, 1-2) scoreless twice on possessions that started inside the Eagles’ 10, one in the first half after Arlington fumbled away a snap at its own 7 and the other on the momentum-shifting second-half stop.
“We had our backs against the wall over and over again, and that’s not gonna stop us,” Yon-Wagner said. “We’re a family. We work as a unit. All we need to do is execute, do our jobs and play. And I think we did that.”
Nobach’s pass to Younger at the 9:14 mark of the fourth quarter put Arlington up 20-6. The Eagles extended their lead to 27-6 when Nobach connected with Luke Brown for a 53-yard scoring strike on third down with 5:40 left that iced the game.
Nobach finished 21 of 30 for 236 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Brown had a team-best 118 yards on five catches.
The Eagles broke a scoreless tie on their final drive of the first half. Arlington converted on a third-and-8 and then a third-and-14 on its 12-play, 64-yard march. RJ Gese finished it off with an 8-yard TD on an inside handoff.
Stanwood missed out on a golden scoring opportunity on its second drive of the game after JT McLaughlin recovered a fumbled snap and gave the Spartans the ball at Arlington’s 7-yard line.
The Spartans moved it to the 5 on their first play, but a holding call pushed them back 10 yards. Stanwood settled for a 34-yard field-goal attempt that hooked left and fell short.
The holding call was one of many costly penalties on the night for the Spartans. Stanwood was flagged 10 times for 80 yards, including eight pre-snap penalties on offense.
“I don’t know what happened exactly,” Stanwood coach Jeff Scoma said. “We were struggling with the snap count. The illegal procedures are questionable in my mind, but we’ll fix it this week and get a lot better. We can’t have that.”
Stanwood got on the board with an eight-play, 78-yard drive to open the second half. The Spartans switched from their Wing-T offense to a spread formation with standout running back Ryder Bumgarner taking the snaps and running the read option.
The switched proved to be a good one as Bumgarner racked up 24 yards on the drive’s first two plays and ended it with a 10-yard touchdown run that made it 7-6 with 7:35 to go in the third.
“I just thought we would change it up and see if it threw them for a loop,” Scoma said. “We had some stuff that was working out of our base, but we just wanted to try something different and see how it worked. It worked, but we only have so much out of that. So it is what it is.”
A 5-yard Stanwood penalty on the extra-point attempt negated a successful kick, and the Spartans second try sailed left of the goal posts.
Arlington pushed its lead 13-6 on Gese’s second TD run. The senior running back scored from 14 yards out after penalties and a sack forced Stanwood to punt out of its own end zone. An Eagles defender got a hand on the punt and it fell just inside the Spartans’ 20-yard line.
Gese led Arlington with 35 yards on 13 carries and added 19 yards on two receptions.
Bumgarner led Stanwood with 121 yards on 23 rushes. Carson Beckt chipped in 50 yards on 11 carries.
“I think we can play with teams that are top 10 in the state,” Scoma said. “We hung with (Marysville) Pilchuck in the first half and we hung with these guys in the first half. We got worn down a little bit. We’re still building our depth.
“… We can hang with really good teams. We’ve just gotta find a way to finish, and that’s on me.”