UPDATE | Falcons reign over Tigers at homecoming

LANGLEY — The South Whidbey football team had something to prove Friday, and they did it in style.

The Falcons came from behind and won 24-6 over the Granite Falls Tigers before hundreds of waterlogged fans to cap off the school’s homecoming week. The Falcons are now 3-2 in the Cascade Conference and 4-3 overall. They are in third place behind 2A teams Archbishop Murphy (5-0) and Cedarcrest (4-1).

The previous week, the team had been royally unhorsed by the King’s Knights and wanted to show they could handle the pressure.

“We needed to get over that loss, to redeem ourselves,” said Falcon center Mason Leffler. “Especially before the homecoming crowd. It was fun, even in the rain.”

Tiger quarterback JJ Campbell, capitalizing on an earlier interception, got things going with a short-yardage sneak attack through the middle for the first score, and Granite Falls led 6-0 with eight minutes left in the first quarter.

“We fumbled and they took over on our first possession, so

I was a little worried,” said Falcon co-coach Mark Hodson. “But the guys stayed positive and didn’t let their score affect them.”

It was the Tigers’ high-water mark, their first and last TD for the night.

Turnovers and interceptions plagued both sides, but the first quarter ended with Granite Falls leading 6-0.

It is an axiom among football players that a wet ball is a slippery ball. Soon after the second quarter began, defensive back Jon Poolman fumbled, but then recovered and tackled Tiger defensive back Max Whitt, forcing Granite Falls to start back at the Falcon 20-yard line.

But the Tigers dropped the ball themselves at the 50, and a few plays later, Henry Mead ran 33 yards for a Falcon touchdown. Quarterback Hunter Rawls ran for the two-point conversion to make it 8-6.

With 5:35 left in the half, Mead ran 15 yards for his second TD, and Tyler Norris caught a Rawls pass to make it 16-6 at the break.

“I was amazingly lucky,” Norris recalled. “Hunter threw it perfectly, but to secure it in the rain was a miracle.”

In the third quarter, the Falcons completely dominated by shutting down the inside lines on defense.

“The Tigers’ strength is the interior run, and we made them take it outside where we knew we had the speed to stop them,” Hodson explained.

Both teams remained scoreless in the third quarter, slogging it out through increasingly swampy field conditions.

Up in the announcer’s booth, Mike Kieke kept drenched fans in the right spirit by getting them to finish his sentences: “Mead rushed for seven, and that’s another...”

“...Falcon first down!” the crowd shouted.

In the fourth, Danny Zuver ran straight through the middle for a 3-yard touchdown and Mead contributed two more on a quick run for the conversion.

The final score was 24-6.

“Wettest game I’ve ever played in,” said senior Poolman. “At halftime, the coaches adjusted the plays and told us that we had to execute. And we did. Our offensive line did a great job all night blocking for Henry.”

Linebacker Joe Kinser agreed.

“They were bigger, but things started to click after we plugged up the middle,” he said.

“It was a mess out there in the rain, but it worked in our favor by forcing them to run all night. Chuck (Norris), Zeke (Spalding), Jon (Poolman) and Chris (Monell) did a fantastic job,” Kinser said.

“We gave it a full effort and kept the pressure on the whole game,” Norris said. Leffler added that the team’s morale shot up, particularly as the win came during homecoming.

“I was very impressed with the whole team, operating as one under difficult conditions,” he said.

The Falcons had 51 carries for 367 yards, as opposed to a measly three through the air. Mead had 220 yards and two TDs. Zuver had nine carries for 32 yards and a TD. Rawls ran the ball nine times for 52 yards.

On defense, Norris extended his string of at least one sack per game this season; Chris Monell caught the Tiger quarterback once as well.

Poolman had two fumble recoveries; Rawls, Danen Hagglund and Kinser had one each. Rawls, Poolman and Monell each had seven tackles and Duck Hanna had six. Rawls picked up the Falcons’ lone interception.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, the team travels to Archbishop Murphy to face the undefeated Wildcats. South Whidbey’s final home game is Thursday, Oct. 29 against Coupeville.

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