Sluggish start dooms Thunderbirds

  • David Pan<br>Enterprise sports editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 1:05pm


The Shorewood football team regrouped in the second half of last week’s game against Lynnwood, but by then the damage already had been done.

The Thunderbirds’ lack of execution in the first half coupled with the Royals’ near-flawless performance lifted Lynnwood to a 39-20 victory in a Western Conference South Division game Sept. 14 at Shoreline Stadium.

“Lynnwood came out on fire and it took a little while for us to adjust,” said Shorewood coach Andrew Hershey. “By the time we did, it was too late. I think our kids played pretty valiantly in the second half. But we need to come out with a little more fire next week.”

The Royals (2-1 in the league, 2-1 overall) marched 75 yards on their opening drive against the Thunderbirds (0-3, 0-3) and scored on three of their next four possessions to take a 25-0 lead in at halftime. The Lynnwood defense did its part by shutting down the Thunderbirds. The Royals picked off a pass, recovered a fumble and forced Shorewood to punt on its other two offensive possessions in the first half.

“Our defense has been tough all year,” Lynnwood coach Dorian Manza said.

Hershey didn’t see very good execution by the Shorewood offense in the first half.

“Lynnwood didn’t cause our fumbles. Lynnwood didn’t cause our effort mistakes,” Hershey said. “Lynnwood played a heck of a game, but we didn’t play up to our level. We started getting closer to where we could be in the second half.”

The Royals had a size advantage on the line with linemen David Harris and Nick Portillo each tipping the scales at 300 pounds. Most of the Shorewood line weighs in at about 215.

“I saw some big boys from Lynnwood,” Hershey said. “They were really aggressive up front. We didn’t maintain our blocks and if you’re not maintaining contact with those 300-pounders they can cause some disruption, which they did.”

Junior running back/defensive end Geoff Meinken said that the Royals weren’t doing anything fancy on the line.

“We just played them straight up the entire game,” Meinken said. “We knew that we’re bigger than most teams in the league and we just like to go out and physically dominate them.

“It really helps to have that big line. It just controls the running game.”

Lynnwood senior quarterback Andrew Beatty threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Curtis Wisser to give the Royals a 7-0 lead at the 9:04 mark of the first quarter. Lynnwood junior linebacker Dylan Burnett then picked off a tipped pass and returned it to the Shorewood 44. The Royals, however, weren’t able to move the ball beyond the 33 and turned the ball over on downs.

Shorewood promptly gave the ball back to Lynnwood this time on a fumble at its own 20. Lynnwood took advantage with three straight handoffs to Meinken with the third being a 1-yard score to give the Royals a 13-0 lead after the extra point was missed.

A 3-yard touchdown run by Beatty midway through the second quarter boosted the lead to 19-0. Teammate J.J. Fuentes later blocked a punt and Maksim Kuzyuberdin grabbed the ball and ran six yards for a touchdown.

“The first half we were rolling,” Beatty said. “We were catching balls. We were pounding them. … It was a great half. The defense was outstanding. So was the offense.”

The second half saw Shorewood’s offense start to gain a foothold, while Lynnwood did not execute as crisply as it did in the first half.

A 20-yard run by Jovi Zeleta increased the Lynnwood advantage to 32-0. Shorewood returned the ensuing kickoff to the Lynnwood 41 and two plays later running back Nathan Cook ran for a 16-yard touchdown.

The Thunderbirds then recovered a Royals’ fumble and eventually capitalized when quarterback Tyler Host threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Demarcus Taylor. Lynnwood turned the ball over again on another fumble but the defense stiffened and forced Shorewood to punt.

Beatty scored on a 5-yard touchdown run at the 9:11 mark of the fourth quarter as the Royals stretched their lead to 39-14. Shorewood closed out the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jon O Hendricks to Taylor.

“We’re all really excited about (the win),” Beatty said. “But it was a horrible second half. … We know we have a lot of things to work on.”

The Royals wanted to build on their success from the first half.

“We didn’t want to let down what we were doing,” Beatty said. “We still wanted to come out and play the game we were playing in the first half, but some things happened. They had a few big plays. … But in the end we picked it up.”

Shorewood faces winless Mountlake Terrace at 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, at Edmonds Stadium. Lynnwood takes on district rival Edmonds-Woodway at 8 p.m., also at Edmonds Stadium.

“We opened up our offense a lot more tonight,” Manza said. “We showed a little more than we have been. We’ve got a lot of plays in our playbook.”

Shorewood’s offense started to get into a rhythm in the second half.

“The kids started believing they could do it,” Hershey said.

The Royals also are becoming believers, especially since they are above .500 for the first time since 1999.

“It feels pretty good,” Meinken said. “I like the opportunity for us to stay over .500 for the rest of the year.”

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