Dousing their coach with a cooler of iced gatorade and rushing the field, Lake Washington football players and fans celebrated the team’s first win in 18 games at Seattle’s cavernous Memorial Stadium.
Both teams had ball-handling troubles in the crisp night air, but the Kangs (1-5 Crown, 1-5 overall) capitalized on a fumble and two interceptions to score all of their points and defeat Ballard 23-6.
After an 0-9 season last year, the last time Lake Washington won a football game was also against Ballard (0-6, 0-6) in the 2006 season. Kangs head coach Ray Roberts said the team’s seniors probably hadn’t ever played in a winning game and spent the week honing plays and nailing down details in practice.
“(We) needed to spend less time worrying over the ‘must do’s’,” he said. “Sometimes, you’ve just got to let them go out and play.”
Early on, the Kangs were defending deep in their own territory after fumbling the ball on the 34-yard line on the second play of the game. But a strong defensive performance kept them alive after a Ballard fumble led to a 12-play, 91-yard drive capped by a Matt Hanson touchdown. The running back finished the night with 83 yards on 21 carries.
But the Beavers refused to roll-over and die. Ballard quarterback Dominique Downey combined with receiver Carlos Stanley and running back Julian Montante for 257 yards of offense and threatened the end-zone with several long passes, only to see the ball batted away by a Kangs defender. Unlike Lake Washington, Ballard never put together a long scoring drive and only managed 10 first downs.
As the game-clock wound down, the Beavers lost patience with their game plan and tried to force their way back into the contest. Defending a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter, Kangs defensive back Joe Pitzler ran back an interception 63 yards to the Ballard 4-yard line to end all hopes of a Beavers comeback. Two plays later, receiver Spencer Wozeniak stretched his arms across the goal line for a touchdown on one of the shortest passes of the night. He grabbed 8 throws for 106 yards.
Beavers quarterback Downey ended the game with 11-of-27 attempts passing for 144 yards.
Playing with a relatively small roster, a number of Lake Washington players made critical plays on both sides of the ball against the Ballard option offense. Quarterback Erik Folkers led the Kangs defense with seven tackles at linebacker, while completing 15 of 24 passes for 187 yards. Wozeniak, also playing as a defensive back, scored a touchdown off an interception and saved another with a last-ditch tackle late in the game.
The evening also debuted a new offensive weapon for the Kangs: Kicker Spencer Jackson. The sophomore scored their first field-goal of the season with a 39-yard attempt in the first half. The kick passed through the uprights with a yard or two to spare.
After ushering his team out of Memorial Stadium and onto awaiting buses, Roberts beamed with a smile to match his giant frame.
“It’s just awesome,” he said. “Hopefully, tonight is something we can build on.”