Lynnwood High football team focuses on sustaining success

Lynnwood High School’s football team has won the first two games of its season for the first time since, well, nobody is really sure.

“Probably never,” senior lineman Joe McKay said with a laugh. “We don’t know. We’ve asked teachers and they don’t even know. The freshman team from, like, 1990 is the only undefeated team to play at Lynnwood. They’re the only people up in the trophy room.”

The Royals are hoping to change that this year. Lynnwood already has won as many games this season as it did in its previous two years combined, when the Royals went 2-17.

What makes its two-game winning streak even more impressive is that Lynnwood won both without allowing a point, defeating Stanwood 6-0 in its season opener before a convincing 55-0 win over Shorecrest this past Friday.

“Finishing, this program hasn’t had a lot of that lately,” Lynnwood head coach Keauntea Bankhead said. “This offseason we just preached to finish games. The teams we’ve played (this season), we’ve been those teams before. We just could never get over the hump. Like last year, Shorecrest beat us (20-15 in both teams’ season opener). It was a close game, but they had the edge.

“This year, we’re trying to be that team to have that edge and finish all our games.”

Bankhead is in his third year with the Royals’ program. He was named an interim head coach, along with current Lynnwood assistant coach Danny Hawkins, a year ago when the Royals’ coach was dismissed early in the season.

Prior to the 2014 season, Bankhead was named the head coach at Lynnwood.

Having the familiarity, and a second year with the same head coach, has helped the Lynnwood players perform better in schemes — both offensively and defensively — that have been tailored to the Royals’ personnel.

“It’s the consistency,” senior running back and linebacker Andrew Katzenberger said. “Everyone’s been here, everyone’s been putting in work. We’ve all been practicing 110 percent. It’s just (about) getting better and leading this team. I’m proud of these guys.”

Bankhead said part of the Royals’ success can be attributed to the fact that “it’s our second year in this defense.”

“We’ve got the same guys and they’re pretty experienced in the scheme and they know what’s going on,” Bankhead said. “They’re flying around and we’ve been fortunate to get a couple stops on defense that set our offense up to get in the endzone.”

Bankhead singled out Katzenberger along with sophomore linebacker Alton Hammond, defensive back Bobby Graham and senior Carson Hoerner as difference-makers on the defense.

“Andrew Katzenberger, that’s our guy,” Bankhead said. “He’s been stepping up. I think he had 11 tackles in the last game. In the first game he had an interception. He’s been making some plays on defense for us.”

Offensively, Lynnwood has gotten strong play from senior quarterback Justin Cachopo. He has completed 30 of 50 pass attempts this season for 473 yards and five touchdowns. Cachopo’s been helped by senior receiver Richard Truong.

“Our quarterback, Justin, has come a long way from last year,” Bankhead said. “He’s a lot better. And he’s got Richard Truong, one of our playmakers. When we need a play, we look to him for that big play. He’s a guy that we definitely want to use this week.”

Lynnwood will need a few big plays Friday when the Royals head to Veterans Memorial Stadium to face Glacier Peak, which has won every Wesco 3A South title since the conference split into North and South leagues in 2012.

It’s one of many challenges in a league that also features Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace and fellow newcomer Edmonds-Woodway.

Like the Warriors, Lynnwood moved down from Wesco 4A prior to the start of the football season.

“It’s a lot of competition,” Bankhead said. “The only new teams (for us) are Glacier Peak and Meadowdale. We’ve played Woodway and we know what to expect from them. It’s just a matter of locking in, continuing to practice hard and finishing every rep.

“For now, we’re focused on Glacier Peak. They’re a well-coached team. They’re one of the top teams in our division and our goal is to go knock them off. That’s our focus this week. We’re going to go out there and play Lynnwood football.”

Lynnwood hopes these are just the first two of many wins, which can help the Royals accomplish a goal they’ve been dreaming about for awhile.

“We’ve been saying for a couple years now: ‘playoffs.’ Playoffs are one of our main goals,” said senior lineman Cason Salvati. “That’s what we really want.”

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