Warriors have their way with Timberwolves in 35-14 season-opener

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The Warriors leave the field after their win Friday. (Photos by Brandon Jennings)
Members of the Edmonds-Woodway football team leave the field after their win Friday. (Photos by Brandon Jennings)

After the season’s first play from scrimmage, Edmonds-Woodway found themselves trailing 7-0. Undaunted, the Warriors would score the next 35 points enroute to a 35-14 victory over the visiting Jackson Timberwolves. The Warriors’ five touchdowns were scored by three different running backs, including two each by Connor McCole and Chantz Justice.

Following the Warriors’ opening kick-off, Jackson quarterback Alex Cheesman found Kenyan Foster behind the E-W defense and Foster took it in from there with a 71-yard touchdown reception. “That’s our play,” said Warrior coach John Gradwohl.  “But you know what? The kid learned from it. He never got beat deep again.”

Trailing 7-0, Justice took the ensuing kick-off and handed off to McCole on a reverse. McCole then advanced the ball to the 40, where the Warriors started this year’s first offensive drive. E-W worked patiently down the field, taking what as Gradwohl called “steps forward and steps back, to find themselves in scoring position.”The big play at this point was a 26-yard pass to Josh Gradwohl, the play coming on a 1st and 22.  The completion set up Justice’s 16-yard scoring run, knotting the score at 7. “Josh made a heckuva play,” said the coach. “ We were just looking for some positive yardage, but he gave us more.”

After a quick Jackson three-and-out, the Warrior offense was back to work. Justice ran for 14 on first down. Quarterback Nick Morales, making his starting debut, then found Brandon Hohengarten for 11 yards, the first of several big catches for the senior. “When he’s running down the field, I just have a lot of confidence,” Morales said f Hohengarten.

Following a series of penalties on E-W, the Warriors found themselves facing a 3rd and 25. Morales answered with a 32-yard strike to McCole as the first quarter expired, giving the home team a first down on the T-Wolves 16.

Morales scrambled for 9 yards to start the second quarter and three McCole runs later, the Warriors were in the endzone with the final rush coming from one yard out. “It’s a great luxury to have four different threats from the running back position,” Gradwohl said.  “All of them also play defense, so they need the rest.”

Warriors converge to stop Jackson running back Andrew Cho Friday night.
Warriors converge to stop Jackson running back Andrew Cho.

The Warriors’ kick-off team stopped Jackson on their own 11. Two plays later, after the T-Wolves had advanced to the 32, Cheesman again looked long for Foster, but this time the Warriors’ Anthony Schlegal intercepted it and returned it 37 yards to the Jackson 16. Wasting no time, Nick Venema took the hand-off and scampered into the end zone, putting the Warriors up 21-7.

E-W’s Brendan Davis kicked off into the end-zone, forcing a touchback and putting Jackson at its own 20. Three plays later, Tyler Rheinford blocked the T-Wolves’ punt, giving the Warriors the ball at the Jackson 12.  Rheinford then switched to tailback, taking the hand-off nine yards to the 3. Jackson’s defense briefly stiffened, but on fourth down, Justice — who ended up being named the Sound Live Sports Network’s Red Onion Burgers player of the game — took it the last three yards for his second TD of the night. Edmonds-Woodway would keep the score at 28-7 as the teams headed to half-time.

The Warriors’ first possession of the second half started at their own 14. Five plays later, E-W was forced to punt and following a 40-yard effort from Davis, Jackson started on its own 29. On 4th and 1, Jackson went for it. Venema timed his blitz just right, smashing Cheesman just as he took the snap. The sack resulted in a two-yard loss and gave the ball back to E-W. “Coach said don’t give away the blitz. When I saw the QB tap the center on his behind, I knew he was going to keep it. I just timed it perfectly,” said Venema.

Already in scoring position, E-W wasted no time, with Morales finding Hohengarten for a 35-yard pass and then McCole scoring his second rushing touchdown of the night.

The Warriors’ defense then forced another three-and-out on Jackson and McCole took the punt 60 yards back for a would-be touchdown, but a holding penalty brought it back. Junior Isaac Jackson entered the game and on his first play ran 27 yards. The drive would stall several plays later.

The Timberwolves would score the final points of the game early in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run from Brandon Wheeler.

The Warriors, 1-0, travel next Friday to face Kamiak at Goddard Stadium in what is now a non-league game, since the Warriors have moved from 4A to 3A this season. “It’s great that we get to still play them,” Gradwohl said. “We’ve faced them for years in division. I’m sure they’ll be tough.”

Tonight’s game is available on demand on The Sound Live Sports Network.

Jackson       7- 0- 0- 7 – 14

Ed-Wood    7-21- 7- 0 – 35

Scoring

1st Quarter

J-11:01, Foster 70 yard pass from Cheesman(Chandler Wooley kick)

E-6:49, Justice 16 yard run (Ebrima Fatty kick)

2nd Quarter

E-10:24, McCole 1 yard run (Fatty kick)

E-6:56, Venema 16 yard run (Fatty kick)

E-3:47, Justice 3 yard run (Fatty kick)

3rd Quarter

E-5:14, McCole 5 yard run (Fatty kick)

4th Quarter

J-4:08, Wheeler 19 yard run (Wooley kick)

— By Jeff Smarr

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