Following the game, with all his players enthusiastically gathered around him, Lake Washington High head coach Andy Arena beamed with pride and told the Kangs they had notched the school’s first football playoff victory since 2003.
Roars of approval leapt forth from the Kangs’ mouths and they knew they were headed to the 3A state football playoffs round of 16.
A few minutes earlier, LW had finished defeating host Shorewood, 17-0, at Shoreline Stadium in the opening round of the district playoffs on Friday night.
Kang Hudson Jones excitedly jumped up and down on the turf and discussed what it means to be part of a squad that has registered four consecutive wins. LW is now 4-6 on the season.
“More than anything, I’ve learned you’ve got to have trust in other people. It’s hard when you’re losing that many games to keep faith in your team, faith in your coaches, but we were able to keep that bond. We had no one quit in all those six losses and I think that really helped us stay tight, stay together,” Jones said.
James Gardner dove into the right side of the end zone from 1-yard out to cap a 13-play, 72-yard drive to put LW up, 7-0, with 11:13 left in the second quarter. Key plays on the drive were Jakson Voelker passes to Gardner (21 yards), Jones (17 yards) and Evan Liggett (10 yards).
Following a Nick Anderson interception on Shorewood’s first play following the kickoff, LW set up shop at the Thunderbirds’ 14-yard line. The Kangs reeled off three straight runs — Anderson for 9, Gardner for 4 and Gardner again for 1 for a touchdown with 9:30 remaining in the half.
“I think we had really good runs tonight. We drove the ball on ‘em hard and just ran it down their throats,” Jones said.
LW completed the scoring for the night with 4:51 left in the third quarter courtesy of a 29-yard field goal from Joey Ryan, who also booted both PATs earlier.
Key defensive plays for the Kangs in shutting down Shorewood time and time again were from Nation Wood, Tristan Brady, Zach Schuster and Levani Eneliko, all who either had sacks or tackles for losses. Shorewood snatched three interceptions, but LW doused its offensive fire each time.
“In practice, as far as defense, we had a good scout team. Our coaches prepared us really well for the game. Everything that we saw on the field, we saw in practice. We were super prepared, knew what they were doing before it even happened,” Anderson said.
On his interception, Anderson knew Shorewood (7-6) had a screen pass on tap because of the scouting report and it’s a play they worked on in practice.
“I just anticipated it, saw it and just read it and flew,” he said with a smile.
Right to the state playoffs with his teammates and brothers.
Lake Washington (seeded 16th) will play Eastside Catholic (seeded first), 8-1, at 7:45 p.m. this Friday at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.
* Jeff Fritchman, LW wide receivers and special teams coach, was a starting wide receiver on the 2003 Kang team that last played in the state football playoffs. LW head boys basketball coach Ryan Staudacher was the starting quarterback on the 2003 squad.