5-0 Warriors use tough defense to stop Cascade

E-W's Andrew Mahoney-Fernandez breaks up a play.
E-W’s Andrew Mahoney-Fernandez breaks up a pass. Warrior players wore pink socks and fans were dressed in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (Photos by Karl Swenson/Just A Whim Photography)

Edmonds-Woodway combined a strong first-half of offense with a shut-out second half to earn a hard fought 28-14 victory over the Cascade Bruins on Friday night. The Warriors had multiple tackles for loss and forced two fumbles in the game as they improved to a leading 2-0 league and 5-0 overall on the season.

“They are always good,” said E-W coach Gradwohl, “but tonight we were better.”

Cascade took the opening drive, but Travis Bakken and Chantz Justice both had sacks for Edmonds-Woodway to force Cascade into a punting situation, with the Warriors returning the punt to their own 44. Eight plays later the Warriors were in the end zone on a quarterback keeper from Davis Giles. Junior Opoku-Mensah carried six times for 29 yards and Mac McLachlan added a 10-yard run along with a six-yard reception by Jack Shull. Shull would leave the game later with an ankle injury.

Both teams traded punts before Cascade began a drive at the start of the second quarter on its own 30-yard line. The Bruins moved quickly down the field as quarterback Josh Smith, a South Alabama recruit, found Kaleb Dobson on a 41-yard pass down to the Warrior six-yard line. Smith kept it himself on the next two plays and scored from the one-yard line, knotting the game at 7-7.

Following a Travis Lyon kickoff return to the 30, E-W’s offense went to work. The drive included runs — all by McLachlan — in order of 11, 6, 7 and 4, capped by a two-yard TD. The drive also featured a 13-yard pass from Giles to Scotty Myricks that ended up being for 28 yards after a face-mask penalty on the Bruins. With 4:36 left in the half, the Warriors were up 14-7.

Cascade answered back quickly, first returning the kick to the 41, then scoring in just over two minutes on a 35-yard pass from Smith to Dobson. The Warriors almost stopped the Bruins, but they successfully converted a 4th down play with Smith gaining seven yards on a QB keeper.

Myricks took the ensuing kickoff back 20 yards to the E-W 30 and rather than play it safe, E-W went to their hurry-up offense. Four Opoku-Mensah runs, sandwiched around a Giles incomplete pass, moved the ball into Bruin territory. Giles then hit Myricks for a 20-yard gain to the Cascade 20. Opoku-Mensah ran for eight yards, then Giles found McLachlan in the flat and he did the rest, taking it the remaining 12 yards for the score and a 21-14 half-time lead. Opoku-Mensah finished the half with 99 yards and McLachlan had 39 yards and also scored twice.

Junior Opoku-Mensah
Junior Opoku-Mensah (2) looks for running room while Zach Willis (52) defends.

At the start of the second half, E-W resumed moving the ball down the field. Opoku-Mensah took the first hand-off for 12 yards, then Giles hit tight end Theo Lebesis for 39 yards. Two plays later, Opoku-Mensah ran it in from the 2, and the Warriors went ahead 28-14.

The Bruins tried to come back, successfully moving ball into Warrior territory on their next possession. After advancing to the E-W 15, Antonio Sherrill and Nick Venema both sacked Smith, forcing a 4th and 12. Andrew Mahoney-Fernandez broke up the Cascade pass to KJ Brady, ending the threat. “We’ve been pushing each other all season,” said Mahoney-Fernandez. “We’re a close team. We all love each other.”

Edmonds-Woodway’s next possession ended quickly, and Cascade started its drive from just inside the Warriors’ territory. With Cascade gaining momentum, Sherrill broke through, forcing Smith to fumble and sophomore Spencer Shultz recovered. “We heard he was good, coming in from Florida and all,” Shultz said of the much-heralded Smith. “He was hard to take down, but we just kept our feet pumping and got the job done.”

Theo Lebesis
Theo Lebesis on the run.

The Warriors’ possession began as the third quarter was winding down. The drive continued in the fouth quarter, with both Opoku-Mensah and McLachlan keeping the clock moving while successfully running the ball. After getting down to the Bruin 37, Giles’ long pass to Myricks was intercepted on the 5, giving Cascade the ball back, but a long field left to cover.

Smith again got the Bruins going, moving them out to midfield in just four plays, including a 25-yard screen pass to Dejuan Coleman. E-W’s Brandon Hohengarten then intercepted Smith’s next pass, giving the ball back to the Warriors and essentially ending the Bruins chance for a comeback.

Next up for the Warriors is a road game next Friday at Goddard Stadium against Kamiak, undefeated in league play after beating Jackson 35-21 Friday. “They’re a good team,” said Gradwohl of Kamiak. “They have a great running back. They’ll be tough.”

Friday’s Jersey Mike’s of Lynnwood’s player of the game was shared by Mahoney-Fernandez and Connor McCole for their outstanding pass defense against the continued long throws of Smith. You can watch an archived version of Friday’s game on the Sound Live Sports Network.

Scoring Summary:
(E-W ) Giles 2 yard run (Ebrima Fatty kick)
(Cas) Smith 1 yard run ((Coleman kick)
(E-W) McLachlan 2 yard run(Fatty kick)
(Cas) Dobson 13 yard pass from Smith (Coleman kick)
(E-W) McLachlan 12 yard pass from Giles (Fatty kick)
(E-W) Opoku-Mensah 1 yard run (Fatty kick)

— By Jeff Smarr


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