SEATTLE — The Stanwood football team spent this fall knocking down milestone after milestone during one of the most successful seasons in program history.
The Spartans ended their 12-game losing streak in the Stilly Cup to rival Arlington. They made it to the state playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time ever. And they won a game at the state tournament for the first time in 26 years.
But Stanwood’s storybook 2022 campaign took a turn Saturday when the Spartans ran in to Class 3A juggernaut O’Dea.
The Fighting Irish and talented junior running back Jason Brown proved to be too much to handle, and Stanwood’s bid for a run to the semifinals ended in agonizing fashion.
Brown ran for 191 yards and five TDs and third-seeded O’Dea took advantage of a few costly mistakes by the 11th-seeded Spartans on its way to a 42-21 victory in 3A state quarterfinal contest at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
The Fighting Irish (10-1) advance to face second-seeded Eastside Catholic in the semifinals. Stanwood finishes its season at 10-2.
“What these kids have accomplished and what the team has done together in a year-and-a-half is pretty amazing when you really think about it,” said second-year Spartans coach Jeff Scoma, who guided the program to its first winning season in 15 years last fall. “Like I told them (after the game), we’re proud of them as human beings and as individuals and for hopefully what they’re going to accomplish in their life outside of just the game.”
Stanwood opened with the game’s first score thanks to a long run by standout senior Ryder Bumgarner. After the Spartans converted an early fourth-and-1, Bumgarner shook off a pair of tacklers at the line of scrimmage and raced down the field for a 65-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the first quarter.
But it was all O’Dea from there on out as the Fighting Irish scored 35 unanswered points on five consecutive TD drives.
Brown answered back quickly with a 23-yard run on the Fighting Irish’s first play from scrimmage. The junior closed a swift four-play, 85-yard drive by taking a handoff to the right sideline and sprinting into the end zone for a 59-yard score.
After a Stanwood punt, O’Dea marched into red zone with a steady dose of runs by Brown and junior Quinn White. The Fighting Irish then dialed up a play-action pass and quarterback Luke D’Anna connected with tight end Tucker Ashcraft for an 11-yard TD and 14-7 lead early in the second.
A long kickoff return by junior Max Mayo put the Spartans near midfield and senior Carson Beckt pushed the ball into O’Dea territory with a 10-yard run. But a botched handoff two plays later was recovered by Ashcraft, a University of Colorado commit.
O’Dea continued to ride its strong running game and drove into the red zone on its next drive. An incomplete pass appeared to set up a third-and-long for the Fighting Irish, but a late hit on the quarterback handed them a first down inside the 10-yard line.
Brown took advantage and displayed his patience on the next play as he a took handoff, waited for a hole to open up and shot through for a 7-yard TD.
Stanwood drove down the field in the final minutes of the half but was forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal try. The kick hit the crossbar and fell just short.
The Fighting Irish opened the second half with the ball near midfield and their running game picked up where it left off in the first half. Brown capped a six-play, 53-yard drive that came all on run plays with a 7-yard TD.
Stanwood fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and O’Dea’s Beckett Swanson recovered. D’Anna heaved a deep ball on the next play and senior Darien Maragh made a spectacular diving grab to complete a 36-yard connection. Brown’s 3-yard score soon after gave the Fighting Irish their fifth consecutive TD drive and a 35-7 lead.
The Spartans forced O’Dea to punt for the first time on its next drive and took over at the Fighting Irish 35 after low snap was fielded by the punter with his knee down. Stanwood called Bumgarner’s number three straight times and he finished off a quick drive with an 18-yard TD run as time expired in the third.
Stanwood recovered the ensuing onside kick and reached the red zone with the help of two personal fouls on O’Dea. Bumgarner took a handoff up the middle for a 6-yard score to cut the deficit to 35-21 with 10:18 left.
Another onside attempt sailed out of bounds, and the Fighting Irish sealed the game with a nine-play, 52-yard TD drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock. Brown ended the drive with an 8-yard TD run, his fifth of the game.
“He’s hard to tackle and he’s a very powerful,” Scoma said of Brown, who’s ranked as the nation’s No. 30 overall recruit for the class of 2024 by 247sports.com. “He’s a D-I guy. You can see why. I thought we did a good job at times against him. You hope you can contain him and at times we did, and then he’d just bounce one and make an amazing run.”
O’Dea totaled 303 yards rushing and averaged 7.4 yards per carry as a team. The Fighting Irish scored touchdowns on six of their eight drives. Maragh added 62 total yards on offense, and Sir Keenan Hart had an interception on defense.
Bumgarner paced Stanwood with 189 yards and three TDs rushing. He also led the team with 38 yards passing and added a 10-yard reception.
This was the fourth overall state playoff appearance and third trip to the quarterfinals for the Stanwood program. The Spartans last advanced past the quarterfinals in 1996, which was the program’s last state berth before the current run of two straight.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt (that they’ve created excitement about the program),” Scoma said. “… They should be very proud of themselves with the legacy that they’ve started and created. They’ll never be forgotten.”