Sports

Falcons checkmate Kings to stay undefeated

South Whidbey
South Whidbey's leading rusher Levi Sawyers crashes through the Kings defense for the touchdown, the first of 44 points Friday.
— image credit: David Welton photo

Sometimes, it’s never enough.

The South Whidbey football team is undefeated in the Cascade Conference at 3-0 and 5-0 overall, ranked in the top 10 in the state by the Associated Press among 2A teams and have outscored their opponents 186-36.

But despite all that and their 44-7 victory over Kings on Friday night, the Falcons still haven’t met their primary goal.

“We want a winning season and we’re not there yet,” Falcon coach Mark Hodson said.

At 7 p.m. this Friday they expect to go over .500 as Coupeville (0-3, 2-3 overall) arrives for a classic island confrontation. It’s the annual homecoming game, a big crowd is expected in both stands and students will spend the day preparing their outrageous floats.

The Falcons are not looking past any opponents this season.

“The Lions and Knights may not be having great seasons, but we can’t take chances,” Hodson said.

The plan for toppling the Knights out of their collective saddles began by changing pass routes to get the ball to tight end Parker Barnett, who ended the night with five catches for 43 yards.

As linebacker, the 6-foot-3 Barnett set the tone within the first minute when he blocked a Knight pass from their 49-yard line as the Kings tried to get out of a hole on third-and-eight.

Kings didn’t achieve a single first down until the third quarter.

“Our guys were doing so well we were able to get our entire varsity squad some defensive playing time,” Falcons defensive coach Damian Greene said.

On their first possession, the Falcons engineered a ground attack that led to a 20-yard touchdown by leading rusher Levi Sawyers.

But opening jitters negated the score when the referees called offsides.

South Whidbey wasn’t to be denied, however.

Behind near-perfect execution by the front line, Sawyers plowed through the defense again for six yards and six points and TJ Russell, subbing for an injured Juan Fernandez, kicked the point after.

With 6:14 left in the first quarter, it was 7-0.

“It was all the line,” Sawyers recalled. “After the penalty we just charged through. At halftime the coach told us to keep up what we were doing. So we did.”

In rapid succession, Hunter Hawkins scored on a 3-yard dash through the middle and Chandler Thompson made a 16-yard reverse for another 14.

Just when the Knights were resigned to a ground game, Falcon quarterback Kyle Hoch began to unleash an airborne assault; passes to Barnett on the right and Luke Hodson on the left.

Are the Falcons a well-oiled machine? Not yet, but the evidence continues to mount.

Just before the break, Hoch threw a 19-yard bomb to Hodson for the third TD and Russell’s leg made it 28-0.

Since the season began, defensive linemen Robert Boenish and Corey Soto have been anxious to break up a punt. They got their chance when Kings was forced to kick from their own 10-yard line.

“We faked a couple moves on the defense they weren’t expecting,” Boenish explained. “Cory and I wanted to block a punt that night real bad.”

Blocked and then recovered in the end zone for a safety and two more points.

Lest anyone think the defense was phoning it in, linebacker Justin Dunsmore had five tackles and three sacks.

“David (Monell) moved the center out of the way so I could run right through their line to the QB,” Dunsmore said.

“I like tackling and I like the kick-off when I can run full speed down the field to take out the ball carrier,” he added.

The Big D kept the Knights off balance but this was clearly an offensive game — almost 500 yards worth of offense.

In the third period, Hawkins plowed through for three yards to score, then Hunter Rawls connected with Luke Hodson for a 19-yard pass.

Kings scored on a short run in the fourth quarter after Hodson brought in the relief players.

Sawyers ran 188 yards on 23 carries and a TD. Hawkins had 24 yards on five carries with two TDs. Hoch ran for 34 yards, made 10-of-12 passes for 119 yards and a TD. Thompson ran 24 yards and a TD and Rawls threw just one pass — for a touchdown.

Barnett caught five catches for 43 yards and Hodson three for 53 yards and two TDs.

The safety and perfect kicking from Russell added up to a 44-7 victory.

Roaming the sidelines late in the fourth, Knight coach Jim Shapiro was realistic. “We played to stop the run tonight and couldn’t do it,” Shapiro said.

An 11-year veteran, he knows the rhythms of high school football. “We are where South Whidbey was two years ago and we’ll be back.”

Making sure his players stay focused, Hodson has told them Coupeville is a tough team with a quality coach. And he is reminding them of the 27-8 loss to the Lions last year.

“My team captains — Kyle, Parker, Patrick (McLean) and Darrin (Britton) — are showing great leadership this year,” Hodson noted.

Barnett agrees.

“We’re all good friends and the team chemistry relates to what we do on the field,” he said. “None of us is content with five wins. There’s a lot riding on the Coupeville game on Friday and we know it.”

Only a freshman, Russell has been kicking soccer balls since he started walking.

“I use the inside of my right foot and that gives me a degree of precision for the extra point,” he said.

He added that while he’s happy to contribute, he knows the real reason the Falcons are winning. “It takes the whole team doing their job to make it happen.”

After Coupeville, the team travels to Sultan and Cedarcrest before playing the other undefeated squad in the league — Archbishop Murphy — at home on Oct. 26.

“It’s very possible that could be for the conference championship,” Hodson said. “They’re very good but we’re getting better. One step at a time.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or sports@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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