Sports

Falcons crown King’s

Going for two after a touchdown in the third quarter, South Whidbey senior Travis Tornga — this year’s recipient of the Wally Lehman Award for best all-around football performance — breaks a tackle to take his team to a 14-0 advantage over Kings Friday night. - Matt Johnson
Going for two after a touchdown in the third quarter, South Whidbey senior Travis Tornga — this year’s recipient of the Wally Lehman Award for best all-around football performance — breaks a tackle to take his team to a 14-0 advantage over Kings Friday night.
— image credit: Matt Johnson

In football, teams will take the wins as they can get them - even if it means taking advantage.

Using small slips in concentration against the visiting Kings Knights, the Falcons jumped on, grabbed and just plain stole the ball through four quarters of grinding football to stop their coach’s alma mater 14-9 for the first time in three tries.

At first it was the little things that killed Kings. Starting with Michael Lodell’s recovery of South Whidbey’s opening kickoff — a play that turned into a 6-0 Falcon advantage six plays later on a 1-yard Travis Tornga run — the Falcons stayed in control of a 48-minute ground battle beginning to end.

Lodell was again the key to the South Whidbey offense. For the third time in as many games he rushed for more than 100 yards, making 113 to follow up his 266-yard performance the previous week against Blaine. On the Falcons’ first drive of the third quarter, the junior runningback was rewarded for all that running as he punched through the Kings defense for a 1-yard touchdown dash.

But Lodell didn’t win the game alone. Also a big factor for South Whidbey was quarterback Travis Tornga. In addition to scoring the early touchdown, Tornga rushed for 43 yards, was 3-for-8 for 23 yards of passing, and ran for the two-point conversion after the Falcons’ second touchdown. On top of all that, he also shut down two Kings drives with two interceptions.

Also pouncing on a Kings miscue was junior Dane Guetlin. On punt coverage in the second half, Guetlin was ready for the Knights’ returner to make a mistake.

“I just saw it come out of his hands,” he said.

Generally unable to keep a grip on the ball, the Knights saw the end zone only once, picking up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter on a four-yard run. Even though that score and an extra kick took the game to 14-7 in favor of the Falcons, the Knights never got another chance at evening the game.

With time running out on the final series in the game, the Falcons’ Tornga ended the night by running out of the back of his own end zone at the buzzer. Though the play gave Kings two points, it eliminated any chance of turning the ball over to Kings within touchdown range.

Now 2-1, the Falcons are spending this week preparing for what could be their toughest game of the year. On Friday, they travel to face the Meridian Trojans, the state’s top-ranked 2A team. After beating his old high school team last week, South Whidbey coach Mark Hodson said his team still needs to do a lot of work to get ready for Meridian.

“We’ll be working on everything,” he said.

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