Snohomish’s season comes to a tough end

Panthers fall 26-20 vs. state’s top-ranked team

By AARON COE

Herald Writer

SNOHOMISH — For 47 minutes, the Snohomish Panthers stayed with the team that many believe is the best in the state.

A few more yards here or there, or maybe a little more time, and the Panthers might have beaten the No. 1 Kentwood Conquerors. But a Kentwood interception at the Conquerors’ 7-yard line in the game’s final minute preserved a 26-20 victory in a first-round state playoff contest that could just as well have been a state championship game.

"Our kids battled," Snohomish coach Mark Perry said. "They have a heck of a football program. We gave them all they could handle."

Eddie Zimmerman, who made many big plays during the season as a receiver, threw a strike to Corey Geston on third-and-20 from the Panthers’ 5. Geston rumbled down the near-frozen turf of Snohomish’s Veterans Memorial Stadium toward the end zone, but was barely tripped up by a Kentwood defender at the Conquerors’ 41 with 1:06 left.

On the next play, Cedrick Pleasant stepped in front of a Snohomish receiver with a minute left to intercept a pass and send the 9-2 Conquerors to a quarterfinal game next weekend.

No. 6 Snohomish’s season ended at 9-1.

"I’m very proud to be a part of this team — this family," said quarterback Josh Rodland, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. "It’s hard. It hurts."

Kentwood, which has won all of its games on the field this year but forfeited two because it used an academically ineligible player, scored the winning touchdown on a trick play with 11:09 remaining.

The Kentwood drive appeared doomed when a running play lost 10 yards and a 15-yard penalty was added to the end of the play to back the Conquerors all the way back to their own 20.

But on second-and-35, Kentwood quarterback Carl Bonnell threw quick pass to Chris Lynn, who pitched to a sprinting Luke Hetherington. The hook-and-ladder play went for 80 yards and silenced an icy, overflowing Snohomish crowd.

Perry said he is proud of his team, which he still believes is one of the state’s best.

"We didn’t come here for a moral victory," Perry said. "We came to win a game and continue in the playoffs. We just didn’t get it done."

The Conquerors flirted with disaster in the early moments of the game, but recovered two of their own fumbles and were ruled down before their third drop of the game could be considered a fumble.

The Conquerors recovered four of their own fumbles.

The game was a see-saw battle in which it seemed that the last team to score would further its season.

With Snohomish trailing 7-0, Andy Heater got wide open in the end zone and Rodland found the senior tight end for a 30-yard pass to tie the score at 7 late in the first quarter.

John Gardenhire of Kentwood then took the lead back less than a minute later with a 68-yard run.

Justin Songstad returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to the Kentwood 48. Zimmerman capped a 48-yard drive with a 10-yard TD reception to tie the score at 14 with 10:11 remaining in the half.

The Panthers stopped Kentwood deep in their own territory late in the half but were flagged for roughing the kicker on the Conquerors’ 39-yard field goal attempt. Gardenhire scored from the 11 on the next play. The Panthers blocked the extra point to keep the deficit at six points — 20-14 — with 2:26 remaining in the half.

Derek Bennion kicked a 35-yard field goal for Snohomish as the half expired to cut Kentwood’s lead to 20-17.

Bennion tied the score at 20 with a 20-yard field goal to cap Snohomish’s 71-yard drive to open the second half.

"It was a fun game, wasn’t it?" asked Rodland, as he mingled with Snohomish fans on the field for the last time. "This is why we play the game."


Kentwood14606—26

Snohomish

7

10

3

0

20


Kentwood—Partridge 14 run (Newbrey kick)

Snohomish—Heater 30 pass from Rodland (Bennion kick)

Kentwood—Gardenhire 68 run (Newbrey kick)

Kentwood—Gardenhire 11 run (kick blocked)

Snohomish—FG Bennion 35

Kentwood—Hetherington 80 pass from Bonnell (kick failed)

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