UPDATE: Victory ensures winning football season for South Whidbey

Nick Tenuta, right, keeps Knight linebacker John Burley occupied as running back Henry Mead racks up more yardage. Mead had 16 carries for 122 yards and Tenuta had a 35-yard scamper into the end zone later in the game.   - David Welton / The Record
Nick Tenuta, right, keeps Knight linebacker John Burley occupied as running back Henry Mead racks up more yardage. Mead had 16 carries for 122 yards and Tenuta had a 35-yard scamper into the end zone later in the game.
— image credit: David Welton / The Record

The South Whidbey football team unhorsed the Knights from King’s 31-0 Friday night to crown homecoming week with a decisive victory.

The outcome sealed its second straight winning season. The Falcons are 6-0 in the Cascade Conference and tied for first place with Archbishop Murphy. South Whidbey has now outscored its opponents 176 to 56.

The game started slow as each team tested the other’s defenses. King’s soon discovered it might be a long night when Dillon Parrick sacked Knight quarterback Michael McCardle for a loss with 7:33 in the first quarter.

When you’re undefeated, teams pay close attention to offensive stars, so running backs Henry Mead and Danny Zuver were targeted early and often.

But Falcon quarterback Hunter Rawls maintained a cool demeanor, using short passes and a couple sneak attacks to keep the King’s defense off guard.

With 1:10 left in the first quarter, Zuver tucked in the ball at the three-yard line and crossed for the first touchdown. TJ Russell’s point-after made it 7-0.

“They were just ugly yards straight through their line,” Zuver said.

Mead, demonstrating his clear presence of mind, coordinated his offensive line to gain serious yardage on the field when, suddenly, wide receiver Nick Tenuta broke from the pack for a 35-yard ramble into the end zone to move the Falcons ahead 14-0.

King’s then threatened by going airborne, but Lucas Yale’s interception took the steam out of the Knight’s drive while tough tackling by the Monell boys, David and Chris, kept the Knight’s offense generally inoffensive. Russell finished with a field goal with nine seconds on the clock to make it 17-0 at the half.

Hitting on the line was the toughest the Falcons have faced this year, Zuver said. Several players on both sides had the wind knocked out of them, including Luke Hodson, Mead and Tenuta.

“We came out and smacked them around a bit and eventually they got a little gun-shy,” Zuver noted.

Mead credited the defense.

“The Knights didn’t get a first down until the fourth quarter,” he said. “That’s huge. Their offense just didn’t work for them.”

In the third quarter, Zuver ran a short sweep left for another TD with 7:59 left to make it 24-0 and Hunter Rawls’ quarterback keeper made it 31-0 just as the quarter ended.

Falcon coach Mark Hodson began shuttling in younger players to give them experience; Russell took the helm from Rawls and Austin Bennett assumed running duties. Though they didn’t add any points, the Falcon defense prevented King’s from scoring, either.

In the final play at the one-yard line, linebacker Chuck Norris made a tackle that stopped an almost certain TD.

“The guys displayed a disciplined defense, shutting down the pass and the run all night,” Hodson said. “And Chuck’s last-second tackle looks great on film.”

“It always feels good to beat the Knights,” said Hodson, a King’s alumnus. “That’s one rivalry that comes alive for me each year.”

Overall, the Falcons had

314 yards rushing and 108 yards passing on the night.

Mead had 16 carries for

122 yards, Zuver 15 for 69 yards and fullback Austin Bennett contributed 42 yards in the fourth quarter. Rawls completed five of 11 passes for 90 yards. Russell had seven points kicking, including that 32-yard field goal.

For the defense, Parrick led with four tackles, two assists and two tackles for a loss followed by lineman Greg Nelson and defensive back Jon Poolman, both with three tackles. Defensive back Yale intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble, as did lineman David Monell.

“Those guys were bigger and stronger than I expected them to be,” said Knight’s coach Jim Shapiro after the game. “Good coaching and great execution of the game plan made all the difference tonight.”

Defensive coordinator Damian Greene said a great team effort was turned in by all, including junior varsity players who saved the shut-out.

“But it was special teams that delivered big on the night,” Greene added. “Thanks to the efforts of the Falcon kickoff team holding King’s returners to small returns, the Falcon defense was able to capitalize on field position throughout the night.”

On Friday, Oct. 17, South Whidbey travels to Granite Falls (2-2 in league, 3-3 overall), then welcomes Archbishop Murphy to Waterman Field for a league first-place showdown on

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