STANWOOD — Moments after Lakes’ final pass fell incomplete and the clock hit zero, the Stanwood High School football team turned its rain-soaked turf into a Slip ‘N Slide.
With the wind gusting and the rain pouring down in sheets, the Spartans slid and dived across the field in celebration of their latest milestone.
A little adverse weather wasn’t going to dampen this moment.
For the first time ever, Stanwood is making back-to-back trips to state.
Ryder Bumgarner ran for 273 yards and three touchdowns to lead the 14th-seeded Spartans to a 28-20 win over 19th-seeded Lakes in a Class 3A winner-to-state Week 10 playoff game Friday night at Bob Larson Stadium.
“It’s really special,” Bumgarner said. “And we’re not just doing it for ourselves. We’re doing it for each other. We’re doing it for our families. We’re doing it for the town. So it’s bigger than ourselves.”
The state-clinching victory was the latest in a string of accomplishments for Stanwood’s program, which has been on a rapid rise the past two seasons since coach Jeff Scoma took over.
Last year, the Spartans ended a streak of 14 consecutive losing seasons and upset Lincoln-Tacoma in the Week 10 round to earn their first state playoff berth since 1996.
Earlier this year, they beat archrival Arlington for their first Stilly Cup victory since 2009.
And now, they’re headed to state for the second season in a row and just the fourth time in program history. Stanwood’s only other state appearances came in 1973 and 1996.
“We’re super excited,” Scoma said. “It’s super cool for the community.”
The Spartans (9-1) likely didn’t need any extra motivation heading into Friday night. But they received a bit of added fuel after being seeded No. 14 out of 32 teams in the 3A Week 10 playoff field.
“We thought we got a little bit disrespected with our seed,” Scoma said. “So we had to prove ‘em wrong.”
Bumgarner led the way with another massive performance in Stanwood’s high-powered Wing-T ground attack.
The hard-running senior back piled up 135 yards and two TDs in the opening quarter, while helping the Spartans race to a 21-0 first-half lead. He finished with more than 270 rushing yards for the fourth time this year. And he brought his season rushing totals to 2,057 yards and 21 TDs.
As usual, he frequently bulldozed through defenders and dragged them along for extra yardage.
“He looks like he’s gonna be stopped, and the kid just is a warrior and battles and battles,” Scoma said. “He has a no-quit attitude.”
On the other side of the ball, Stanwood’s defense kept Lakes (6-3) and its talented athletes mostly in check. The Spartans held the Lancers to their second-lowest point total of the season, well below their 44-point average.
“They have weapons all across the board, so credit to our defense,” Scoma said. “They did a heck of a job. … Super proud of them.”
Leo Pulalasi, a Brigham Young-bound senior running back, paced Lakes with 177 total yards and three TDs on 19 touches. Ki’marree Washington, a two-star senior back, added 99 yards on 13 carries.
But the Spartans completely shut down Lakes through the air, limiting the Lancers to just 7-of-15 passing for 110 yards, one TD and three interceptions. And they held Oregon State-bound senior receiver David Wells to just 42 total yards on three touches.
Stanwood senior cornerback Gary Grisham came up with a pair of interceptions, including a diving pick in the final minutes that helped seal the victory.
“Our (defensive) line was pretty physical against some big guys,” Scoma said. “So they did a great job. And that really allowed our athletes to kind of play ball outside of them.”
Bumgarner broke a pair of long first-quarter runs and followed each with a TD, rushing for scores of 10 and 16 yards to give the Spartans a 14-0 lead.
Then after Grisham intercepted an overthrown pass in Lakes territory, sophomore back Canyon Bumgarner ran for a 21-yard TD on third-and-20. Canyon Bumgarner took a reverse to the left edge, cut back inside and then spun out of a tackle to reach the end zone for a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
“Canyon was a beast,” Scoma said. “He really came on last game and got in the mix tonight and did a great job.”
Pulalasi put Lakes on the board with a short second-quarter TD run and scored on a 16-yard screen pass late in the third quarter to trim the margin to 21-12.
Stanwood answered with a quick scoring drive, highlighted by a 37-yard run from senior back Carson Beckt. Ryder Bumgarner capped it with a 5-yard TD run, stretching the lead to 28-12 with 11:02 to play.
But the Lancers didn’t fold. They marched downfield and scored on a short TD run from Pulalasi, who then ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion to cut the deficit to 28-20 with 6:42 remaining.
“That’s a really, really good offense and a well-coached team,” Scoma said.
The Spartans drove to the edge of the red zone on their following possession, but turned the ball over on downs at the Lakes 22-yard line with 3:28 to play.
That put Stanwood’s defense back on the field, needing likely one more stop to secure the victory.
Prior to that point, the weather had been a non-factor. But over the final few minutes, the rain and wind combined to create a torrential downpour that angled sideways toward the Lancers.
“It felt like a movie on that last drive,” Ryder Bumgarner said. “It was crazy. The crowd was going crazy and … the rain was going sideways. That’s football. I love it.”
Lakes moved the ball to its own 45 before launching a deep pass into the strong wind, which caused it to be underthrown. Grisham read it perfectly and raced up to make a diving interception, giving the ball back to the Spartans with just under two minutes to play.
“I was so excited for Gary, because he had not played football till last year and has worked really hard,” Scoma said.
Stanwood then ran down the clock and punted the ball away in the closing seconds. And after a last-ditch pass by Lakes fell incomplete, the Spartans unleashed what they hope will be the first of several playoff victory celebrations.
“Last year, we were the underdog going into Lincoln and we shocked the state,” Ryder Bumgarner said. “And we’re here to shock the state again. We expect to win, and that’s our motto.”