I went down to Thursday night’s showdown looking for some offensive fireworks. I came away impressed with a pair of defenses. It was Chico McClatcher’s 54-yard run in the fourth quarter that gave No. 7 Federal Way (4-2, 2-0 Northwest) a 14-10 win over No. 8 Kentwood (5-1, 2-0 Northeast) in an SPSL 4A crossover game.
Here is McClatcher, by the way, talking about that run.
But you wouldn’t know it was a game that really didn’t count much toward the standings with the intensity on the field. And that offense I thought I was going to see? Forget about it.
Here’s the insane part. Federal Way entered the game averaging 331.4 yards on the ground and 43.2 points per game. The Eagles were held to 204 yards rushing and 14 points. If you take out the 54-yard run, that’s 150 yards on 30 carries (5 yards per carry). They came in averaging 9 yards per carry.
The Conks made life difficult for Federal Way, doing a fantastic job sealing the holes up front and swarming to the ball. Defensive lineman Josiah Bronson is an absolute beast at 6 foot 6 and 275 pounds, and he created a whole lot o havoc. Of course, that’s par for the course for a Kentwood defense that came into the game allowing 35.2 rushing yards on the ground per game.
“They’re a great football team,” Federal Way coach John Meagher said. “They got a great defense that we just eventually found a way to make one happen. You’re just not going to run through a Kentwood defense just like a knife through butter. The yards came hard-earned and thankfully Chico … busted one.”
On the flip side, Federal Way’s run defense held pretty stout. Allowing 235.4 yards on the ground per game, the Eagles held a Kentwood offense that came in averaging 300.4 yards on the ground to 179. A large part of that is due to the return of linebacker Jared Pulu from a shoulder injury that kept him out of the first five games.
“Our run defense played really great thanks to Jared Pulu,” McClatcher said. “We’re glad that he’s back.”
– There was one intriguing play at the end of the first half that left some head-scratching. The teams were knotted at 7-7 and Kentwood was driving. Federal Way was practically begging the Conks to score after committing back-to-back penalties to put the ball at the five with less than 30 seconds before intermission. But in an odd sequence, Kentwood wasted its last timeout, threw an incompletion and then ran the ball for no gain from the five-yard line. Kentwood was unable to spike the ball and the clock ran out.
Kentwood coach Rex Norris took all the blame.
“The bottom line is I shouldn’t have called timeout, if anything, I should have taken the penalty, but it happened and it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to,” Norris said.
It’s easy to look back and say Kentwood could have kicked a field goal, coupled with a miss later in the game, and that’s the game-winning six points right there. But then you could also call to attention the missed field goal that Federal Way had and no we’re going down the rabbit hole …
– Speaking of kicking, the punting game was tremendous. Both Sam Han (Federal Way) and Andre Slyter (Kentwood) proved to be game-changers flipping the field with booming punts.