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High School Sports Blog

The latest news and analysis on high-school sports around the Seattle area

September 1, 2007 at 2:47 PM

The feel-good story of Week 1

We’re about half an hour before Lakes kicks off against Gig Harbor, and I will offer my opinions of our top-ranked team in Class 3A later. First, I want to point out one of the best stories to come across the Times’ desk last night.

So let me take you back to 1998, when the Nintendo 64 was the big new thing for high-school kids, and Microsoft’s XBox hadn’t even been invented. No one had heard of Paris Hilton, and a new pop star named Britney Spears was celebrated for her simplicity and innocence.

This is the time when the Lynnwood football team did what current coach Dorian Manza believes no Royals team since had done: win a Wesco game.

Until last night.

The Royals, who have taken their lumps for a decade, stunned Edmonds District rival Mountlake Terrace 28-7 Friday night. The win snapped a 20-game losing streak and, yes, is believed to be the Lynnwood’s first conference win in 10 seasons. Think about that – 10 years!

The 2006 season was brutal for the Royals. Their head coach quit two days before an 0-10 season under an interim coach began. So enter Manza, a native of Sunnyside in the Yakima Valley whose mentor was Tom Moore, the architect of Prosser’s remarkable football success. Manza was an eighth-grade coach just two years ago at Alderwood Middle School, and was Lynnwood’s freshman coach and a varsity assistant during last year’s disaster. He was named head coach last spring at the ripe old age of 26.

Manza says his program turned the corner in June at a football camp at Western Washington University in Bellingham. He was determined to take his team there, even if just 15 players went. He ended up with 18

“A huge turning point for our program was when we went to camp,” he said Friday night by telephone. “We scrimmaged some really good teams. We had some small successes there, and you build competence through small successes.”

You might call Friday night’s win a small success. I’d say it’s a pretty significant one.

But this Lynnwood team is not a group of pushovers. The Royals are huge up front defensively, with a couple of 300-pounders at tackle, and a pair of big, physical defensive ends. One of them, 6-foot-2, 235-pounder Geoff Meinken, is also the tailback. But it’s a 250-pound middle linebacker, Chris Gordon, who anchors it all. Gordon had a 35-yard interception return in the fourth quarter and finished the game with 13 tackles, including one for loss, and a deflected pass.

Manza called his game report in to The Times, then called back and left this telling voicemail for one of my editors:

“This game was really about this senior class, who for the last three years haven’t won a varsity game and have gotten blown out of a lot of games,” he said. “For them to have the resilience to keep on playing and keep taking those licks and see that come to fruition, it’s a wonderful thing. They earned the victory tonight by sticking with it.”

How can you not love a story like that?

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