Lake Washington High head coach Andy Arena gathered his football team for one last huddle after Friday night’s loss in the opening round of the 3A state playoffs.
It was an emotional one.
On the icy Memorial Stadium field in Seattle after losing to top-seeded Eastside Catholic, 42-12, Arena told the Kangs he was proud of their performance this season as they wiped tears and eye black from their battle-worn faces. After the talk, Arena told the Kangs to go and visit with and thank their families and friends for the support they gave them this fall.
This LW team won four of its last five games and was the first Kang squad to make the state playoffs since 2003. The Kangs finished the season 4-7.
“After those six weeks, it’s really impressive to see how our team is still able to bring it together,” said senior Brady Gockel of the 0-6 start. “No guys lost hope and it shows the brotherhood that’s at Lake Washington football, for sure. We’re a family here and we care about each other and we work hard together.”
Highlights for LW — seeded 16th in the playoffs — on Friday were a 35-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jakson Voelker, who left and valiantly returned to the game twice following an Eastside Catholic illegal tackle and a leg injury; a 14-yard TD run by Nick Anderson; copious stellar catches from Evan Liggett, including a fully extended diving grab; and smothering tackles by Ryan Thompson, Gockel and a host of others.
LW constructed a lengthy drive in the first quarter starting from its own 20, which featured a bevy of runs by James Gardner, but were held short on fourth down at the Eastside Catholic 29. The Crusaders led 7-0 after the first quarter and 21-0 at halftime.
Gardner, a junior, said his solid team was excited to earn a spot in the state playoffs. The Kangs know what they’re capable of achieving and he can’t wait for the team to display its talent again next season.
“We gave it our best the whole game and we really showed ‘em that we were here to play,” Gardner said. “We had a few good ones and we showed ‘em we have some players that can do some things on our team, too.”