SEATTLE — The Stanwood High School football team may have shocked the state last week. But the Spartans ran out of electricity when they bumped into the two-time defending state champions.
Stanwood’s unexpected playoff run came to an end Friday night when the Sprtans fell 41-6 to the Eastside Catholic Crusaders in a first-round Class 3A state playoff game at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
“We battled,” Stanwood coach Jeff Scoma said. “I told the kids, I truly think we’re a top-10 team in the state. We just ran into the No. 2 team. They’re really good, and they did a hell of a job. What are you going to do?”
Stanwood hadn’t reached the state playoffs since 1996, and after starting the season 1-3 most figured the Spartans’ drought was going to continue. A 4-1 conclusion to the regular season and a 40-35 upset win over Lincoln in a Week 10 winner-to-state game had the Spartans seeing themselves as spoilers.
But Stanwood, the 15th seed, was never able to get anything going offensively against second-seeded Eastside Catholic, which had a distinct advantage in size and speed. A week after steamrolling their way to 428 yards on the ground via their Wing-T rushing attack, the Spartans were held to just 23 yards on 28 carries.
“On one hand I could say that I think we can do a few things better, on the other hand I think they have really talented linebackers,” Scoma said. “Those guys play hard and fast. In college football the speed is much different, and when you play this team the speed is much different. So you have to be able to deal with the speed and understand what it takes to be successful against a team that plays that fast.
“I think they’re one of the best defenses if not the best defense in the state.”
Brady McKelheer threw for 126 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another, Chase Hamdan rushed for 97 yards and a score, Dallas Daley scored TDs rushing and receiving, and Eastside Catholic also returned a punt and a fumble for scores as the Crusaders (8-1) advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will play the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 7 Arlington and No. 10 Mt. Spokane.
Michael Mascotti completed 6 of 7 passes for 53 yards and Otto Wiedmann returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown for Stanwood, which finished the season 6-5 and posted a winning record for the first time in more than a decade.
“I told the kids we should be extremely proud,” Scoma said. “We won a playoff game for the first time in 25 years. We came a long way from the beginning of the season, the amount of improvement we had, and I think we opened up a lot of eyes and made the community proud throughout the year.”
Last week against Lincoln the Spartans scored touchdowns on every drive except when they kneeled down at the end of the game, as their rushing attack proved unstoppable. But it was a completely different story right from the start against Eastside Catholic.
The Spartans came out handing the ball off to star running back Ryder Bumgarner, who set a school record with 279 yards rushing against Lincoln. But Bumgarner was stuffed on three consecutive runs, forcing a punt. Then on Eastside Catholic’s first offensive play of the game McKelheer connected with Daley on a corner route to the right sideline, and Daley broke a tackle to get into the end zone for a 48-yard touchdown and an instant 7-0 lead.
It didn’t get any better for the Spartans from there, as the Crusaders used a 47-yard reception to set up Dallas’ 6-yard touchdown run from the wildcat formation to make it 14-0 on the second play of the second quarter. Stanwood went three-and-out again, and on the ensuing punt Drew Sanidad danced through traffic before breaking free for a 54-yard TD return to make it 21-0.
Stanwood saw a glimmer of light when Wiedmann jumped a sideline route to pick off McKelheer, then raced 74 yards down the right sideline to get the Spartans on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to 21-6.
But Eastside Catholic chewed up the last 4 minutes, 25 seconds of the half, with McKelheer scrambling for a 7-yard touchdown as time expired to give the Crusaders a commanding 28-6 halftime lead. The numbers supported the domination as Eastside Catholic outgained Stanwood 217-24 in the first half and held the Spartans to a single first down.
Any thoughts of a second-half Stanwood comeback were quickly extinguished as Eastside Catholic drove 75 yards on nine plays on the opening possession of the third quarter, culminating in Hamdan’s 7-yard TD run off right tackle. On the following possession the Spartans finally made a little headway, but that was halted when David Lene took a fumble 80 yards for a touchdown to complete the scoring.