First they received the Kirkland Bronze Man Trophy. Then came the 2A/3A KingCo championship hardware. There were cheers galore and talk about dancing in the locker room on a huge Friday night for the Lake Washington High football team.
LW defeated crosstown rival Juanita, 29-19, to notch their third straight victory that paved the road to the playoffs. LW — which finished league play with a 3-2 record — will battle Shorewood at 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at Shoreline Stadium.
After trailing 7-0 with 8:17 left in the first quarter, LW scored 29 consecutive points before Juanita got points back on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.
“It’s always fun to get a W against Juanita, our crosstown rival, two years in a row now, too. It’s just a great feeling,” said Kang running back James Gardner, who scored on two runs and praised his blockers for creating nice holes. “The best thing was that they started off with a score, but then we were able to respond and just put up a lot of big scores in the end, and then we were just able to stay on top.”
Nothing beats getting a big win on senior night, according to senior offensive and defensive lineman Levani Eneliko, who had seven tackles for LW.
“Last time we’re gonna be on this home field, so it was really special for all of us to take it to the house tonight and beat them again. I’m really excited and a lot of other seniors are as well,” he said.
LW scored on an 83-yard drive to tie it up at 7-7 with a Jakson Voelker 17-yard pass to Calvin Campbell with 1:42 left in the first quarter. Voelker’s 31-yard keeper highlighted the drive.
LW took the lead with 6:37 left in the first half on a Gardner 1-yard run and a two-point conversion with a Nick Anderson-to-Hudson Jones pass to go up 15-7. Jones got the crowd roaring on that drive with a 24-yard reception during which he hurdled a defender.
Gardner tallied again on a 2-yard run with 1:42 left in the half and LW went up 22-7 following another Joey Ryan PAT.
LW went up 29-7 with 7:32 left in the third quarter on a Brady Gockel 6-yard run.
Juanita snatched the early lead on a 61-yard fumble return by Jake Hohu in the first quarter. With 4:13 left in the first, Juanita tried to further its lead, but Alex Kartes blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt.
Juanita surged back into the game with two more scores, one on an Isaiah Eubanks 2-yard run with 11:46 left in the game and Brayden Brown on an 6-yard run with 1:57 remaining. Juanita’s third score capped a 67-yard drive during which the Rebels converted four fourth-down plays — including the TD — to keep rolling. Brown, Eubanks, Tjitjihaanda Muundjua and Jake Langeuin all racked up yardage on the final two scoring drives.
“After going into the locker room (at halftime), talking about how we can get better, I felt really good,” said Hohu of Juanita’s turn-around.
The Juanita signal caller liked what his offense produced in the second half.
“Our offense is to drive people down, just constantly running at them downhill. It gets them tired and we learned from the season that we need to keep on going and finish,” he said.
Juanita head coach Lele Te’o is proud of how the Rebels rebounded from last year’s tough season.
“It matters to our guys, and the leadership in our group has really worked hard and my heart goes out to them to have an opportunity to get so close. They’re building a foundation for our guys to continue to go off and I’m excited for them,” he said.
Defensively for LW, Anderson had 12 tackles followed by Gockel with 10 and Taylor Rickels with five. For Juanita, Connor Blackburn and Cole Kennison had six tackles each and Eubanks, George Suzuki and Keegan Eby notched four apiece.
With the playoffs now on tap, Eneliko has LW’s postseason game plan mapped out:
“I think we still gotta keep a level head, not underestimate the enemy and just keep working hard during our practices and just focus. Because we can’t let up,” he said.
* Bellevue finished 5-0 in league and advances to the playoffs but doesn’t get the KingCo title because of sanctions against the Wolverines. Bellevue beat Mercer Island (2-3 in league), 47-0, on Friday.
It is LW’s second straight KingCo title.
* Juanita (1-4 in league) will take on Redmond in a consolation game on Nov. 2.