Lynnwood players stand for the national anthem with Lynnwood’s Matthew Pontoh (center) decorated with a deceased teammate’s number before a game against Nathan Hale Aug. 31, 2018, at Edmonds Stadium. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Lynnwood players stand for the national anthem with Lynnwood’s Matthew Pontoh (center) decorated with a deceased teammate’s number before a game against Nathan Hale Aug. 31, 2018, at Edmonds Stadium. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Emotional Royals play 1st game since loss of teammates

Lynnwood football players Ryan Truong and Sayon Savorn died this past June.

EDMONDS — After an offseason marked by pain and tragedy, this certainly wasn’t a typical season opener for the Lynnwood football team.

The Royals took the field Friday night at Edmonds Stadium for the first time since former teammates Ryan Truong and Sayon Savorn died this past June within 48 hours of each other.

“It was very emotional for those guys,” Lynnwood coach Keauntea Bankhead said after his team’s season-opening 33-20 non-league loss to Nathan Hale. “When you’re attached to somebody for so many years and you create a relationship and a bond, they become family. Losing a family (member) is always tough.”

In honor of his fallen teammates, Lynnwood sophomore quarterback Christian Kirkman played with the numbers 11 and 25 decorated on his arms.

“They were just great people,” he said. “They gave 110 percent every day, every play. We came out (today and) did that. We lost, but everyone played their hearts out.”

Savorn, a junior at the time, committed suicide June 9. Truong, a senior co-captain on last year’s team who was set to graduate four days later, died June 11 from heart disease, according to his obituary. Both were 17.

“Everyone’s doing it for them,” Lynnwood junior receiver Nate Killen said. “The first month was real hard. … The first practice (afterward), I remember, I just sat there during warm-ups.”

Savorn was slated to be a team captain and starting slot receiver for the Royals this season. Knowing this would’ve been his senior season, Savorn’s absence has been painfully recognizable, Bankhead said.

“When you go to practice, you’re used to seeing that person there,” he said. “You’re used to hearing that voice, and it’s not there anymore. … It’s been tough.”

Lynnwood fell into an early 12-0 hole against Nathan Hale and trailed 19-6 early in the third quarter. The youth-laden Royals twice cut the deficit to six points in the second half, but missed a pair of scoring opportunities inside the Raiders’ 10-yard line with an interception and turnover on downs.

Nathan Hale’s Wing-T rushing attack gashed Lynnwood for 451 yards, averaging over 10 yards per carry. Raiders senior Brandon Gibson rushed for 279 yards and four touchdowns on just 18 carries, including a 65-yard score in the fourth quarter that helped seal the victory.

Kirkman completed 30 of 38 passes for 369 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in just his second career start for the Royals. He also rushed for a score.

Lynnwood junior receiver Zayn Alrobae had five catches for a team-high 93 yards. Killen caught eight passes for 92 yards, including a 43-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Tanner Fahey, a sophomore, added eight receptions for 89 yards.

After ending a 21-year state-playoff drought in 2016, the Royals graduated numerous key players and struggled through a 1-9 campaign last season. But with just five seniors on this year’s young team, Bankhead is excited about the program’s future.

“The future looks bright,” he said. “We’ve just got to get reps. This was some of these guys’ first varsity games, so there were jitters and nervousness, but hopefully that’s all out now.”

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