South Whidbey football overcomes 13-point deficit against Cedar Park Christian

Cooper Nichols takes a handoff during drills Monday after rushing 15 times in a 21-20 win against Cedar Park Christian High School on Sept. 13.  - Ben Watanabe / The Record
Cooper Nichols takes a handoff during drills Monday after rushing 15 times in a 21-20 win against Cedar Park Christian High School on Sept. 13.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / The Record

Trailing 20-7 at halftime, the South Whidbey Falcon football team made all the right adjustments to narrowly beat Cedar Park Christian on Friday night.

Even if the Falcons didn’t make all the right plays, they made the right ones at the right time to beat the Eagles, 21-20. South Whidbey scored two touchdowns and had a shot at a third score in the final minutes, but senior quarterback Nick French stopped at the 10-yard line, covered up the ball and dropped a knee to the turf. With less than 20 minutes remaining, South Whidbey (2-0 overall) ran out the clock and sealed victory.

“I was super confused at first, ‘Why are you stopping?’ ” said Falcon senior running back Cooper Nichols. “He was just wasting time. It was a good idea. Anything can happen in 1 minute, 30 seconds.”

Though the game was technically a home game for Cedar Park Christian, a private school in Bothell, the Eagles also traveled to play in Redmond. The Eagles jumped ahead early as Cedar Park Christian led 20-7 by halftime.

South Whidbey’s only touchdown in the first two quarters came on a 15-yard pass from senior quarterback Nick French to junior tight end Parker Collins. That score gave the Falcons the lead, 7-6, but it was short-lived.

Cedar Park Christian retook the lead on a 30-yard touchdown run that was set up by a big throw the play before.

After a short possession mostly on Nichols’ runs — he finished with 15 rushes for 40 yards and five catches for 23 yards — the Falcons punted. But French, who also punts for South Whidbey, barely booted the ball before a blocker reached him, and the punt only traveled about 25 yards.

From the spot of the downed punt, Cedar Park Christian broke out for a huge 55-yard touchdown run. The Eagles’ two-point conversion failed, but they led 20-7.

“It was only a few big plays they scored on us,” said Falcon sophomore Charlie Patterson, who stopped another drive by Cedar Park Christian when he intercepted a deflected pass on the Falcon 43-yard line.

“The first half was pretty upsetting,” Nichols said. “We’ve always been a second-half team.”

Oh, indeed.

South Whidbey also scored on plays either on or set up by 10 yards or more in the second half. French connected with senior receiver Nick Bennett for two deep passes, including one on the Eagle 2-yard line. French ran it in for the score, but Collins’ two-point pass attempt was batted down.

Then the Falcons relied on one of their staples: the onside kick. South Whidbey recovered the ball on the Eagle 33-yard line. Nichols started the possession with a one-yard gain which set up a long throw. French aired out to senior receiver Kale Reichersamer who beat two Eagles defenders, turned around in the end zone and caught the ball as he fell to his back.

It was the culmination of a long con by South Whidbey, which spent most of the game running the ball with Nichols and French, who led with 112 rushing yards.

“We’re all power instead of speed, and it hurts but you get used to it,” said Nichols who had a touchdown called back on a penalty in the first quarter. “My leg got some bruises from that.”

South Whidbey is 2-0 heading into Cascade Conference play Friday against Granite Falls, which is also 2-0 overall. The road game for South Whidbey will be the league opener for both teams.


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