The power of social media is pretty amazing, isn’t it? Monday night, No. 7 Federal Way at No. 8 Kentwood was leading in our Game of the Week poll — by a wide margin. Fast forward to Tuesday mid-morning and Roosevelt at Garfield had overtaken the lead. Again, by a wide margin.
So what happened? Apparently, Roosevelt senior Owen Savage tweeted and texted everyone he knew to vote in the poll. The result was 1,405 to 759 (a few games received negligible votes).
The power of social media.
Anyway, on to the actual game. The preview talks about the rough history of the two programs. It’s undeniable that the schools have suffered through many losing seasons. But now, the two will clash for the Metro Sound Division title. Both have set itself up for a postseason run, already.
Roosevelt, under Matt Nelsen, have made wondrous strides in the past few years. In the previous three years under Nelsen, the Roughriders have gone 4-5, 8-4 and 5-5. The 8-4 season marked the first time Roosevelt made the playoffs since 1995. Oddly enough, Nelsen was a senior quarterback on that team.
In 17 years in the KingCo conference, Roosevelt went 48-110. Garfield went 24-130. The Bulldogs last winning season came in 1991 when they went 8-1 under Mark Stewart.
The previous stat about Garfield is courtesy of David Maley, a Washington prep sports historian, and a mighty fine one at that. If you want to know something about prep sports, Maley knows the answer. So, I was curious about a few other things, and instead of muddling it up, I’ll post what Maley found directly. The first paragraph is referring to the 8-1 year in 1991.
“In the two-division format Metro AA (now 3A) had at the time, only the division champions qualified for the round of 16. O’Dea finished first in the Sound Division; Garfield finished second. Franklin won the Mountain Division.
The last time Garfield qualified for postseason was a AAA (now 4A) interdistrict qualifier against Oak Harbor on Nov. 9, 1982. Oak Harbor won 30-8. Doug Rickerson was Garfield’s head coach.
The last time Garfield qualified for the state round of 16 was a AAA (now 4A) semifinal against Sumner on Nov. 26, 1977. Sumner won 34-13. Rickerson was the head coach. Sumner beat Gonzaga Prep for the state title, 12-7.”
Interesting stuff that tells us that Garfield hasn’t had much success on the football field. That is starting to change this season under Derek Sparks. Here’s some of what Sparks had to say about being the team that breaks many years of losing:
“We take that with pride and we take that very serious. I’ve been very diligent just building a program. A lot of it is non-football type stuff. I’m starting to see those things show up. I would say football take care of itself if you build the right pieces. We’ve been spending a lot of time on that stuff and it doesn’t surprise me that we’re in this position. I think that was the expectation and the reason why you would build that program versus just come in and concentrate on the football team and winning games.
“I think for these young men who’s been through three coaches, sometimes four coaches – I think a few of them been through four coaches – that alone is huge. We want them to leave as winners. I think that’s important for every kid to experience what that feels like at some point in their career, and knowing that most of them won’t play again, so it’s pretty important.”
Roosevelt coach Matt Nelsen also talked about growing a program. He had some interesting thoughts on coaching kids who haven’t played much organized football in their youth.
Nelsen: “Our kids work really hard. We don’t get a lot of kids that play youth football that come here, so the one thing that is consistent throughout is their freshman year of playing football here is not usually successful. They struggle. And our JV program struggles, when it comes to wins and losses. We just don’t have a lot of guys who have played a lot.
“But what we do have is kids that are hardworking and kids that are dedicated and kids that are really smart and want to learn, and so they’re just absorbing so much. They’re learning so much from the time that they’re freshmen to the time that they’re juniors and seniors that there is still that motivation, I think. We talk about it a lot: remember your freshman year, remember all the success you’ve had since then. But also keep it in perspective, like what keeps you hungry and what keeps you driven to get better. So that they don’t lose an edge about them no matter who they’re playing, no matter what the score is. I think that’s one of the things we push hard, trying to give them perspective on how much they’ve grown in the four years.”