Who would of thought two years ago that the South Whidbey High School football team would be one game away from qualifying for the state tournament?
While the Falcons lost 59-8 to Meridian Friday, Nov. 2, at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium in a winner-to-state/loser-out game, the lopsided setback can’t erase the leap forward accomplished by the South Whidbey program.
Over three seasons, 2014-16, the Falcons won only four games. It came to the point of not whether they could win games but whether they could field a team.
Last year, coach Mark Hodson returned after taking several years off and re-energized the program.
After the loss to Meridian, he said, “Who would have believed in two years we would be in a playoff game? We exceeded our expectations.”
“The next step,” he added, “is to win a playoff game. It all begins with off-season preparation.”
The goal coming into the season, Hodson said, was to be competitive in every game. The Falcons accomplished that in all but the last. They finished third in the North Sound Conference and posted a 6-4 record.
The Falcons success changed the attitude about the sport at the school.
“The players have been well received by their classmates,” he said. “There is now an atmosphere of winning.”
That atmosphere, he noted, was created by the success of all the fall sports, not just football.
“Cross country, soccer, volleyball – they are all having good seasons,” he said.
Meridian 59, South Whidbey 8
Reaching the playoff game measured how far the Falcons have come. The game was also was a reminder of how far they have to go to become a state contender.
South Whidbey has qualified for only four state football tournaments, and the last visit came in 1992.
Meridian is one of the state’s elite 1A programs. With the win, the Trojans have now reached the tournament in 20 of the past 24 years. Meridian owns three state titles and placed second three times, including last fall.
The Trojans dominated Friday’s game, piling up 400 yards of total offense and limiting South Whidbey to 136. Meridian pulled its starters at halftime after building a 49-0 lead. The second half was played with a running clock.
The Trojans recovered a fumble in the end zone for their second score; all of the other scoring plays covered at least 15 yards.
Most of South Whidbey’s offensive success came in the fourth quarter when it collected 95 yards.
The Falcon touchdown came in their final possession when Kody Newman hit Alex Black with a 35-yard touchdown pass. Newman ran in for the points after.
For the game, Newman connected on seven of 20 passes for 81 yards. Bodie Hezel caught three passes for 44 yards.
Caden Spear was the top Falcon rusher, gaining 31 yards on 12 carries.
Quarterback Dawson Logan led Meridian. He hit nine of 11 passes for 174 yards and rushed seven times for 60 yards.