With a number of key players injured, the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors limped into their playoff football game on Friday with some doubt and a slightly tweaked game plan. But after 48 minutes of play, the Warriors were feeling a lot better about themselves.
With a strong defensive effort and solid play from quarterback Reilly Chappell, E-W defeated the visiting Gig Harbor Tides 24-6 Friday at Edmonds Stadium and earned a berth in the 2017 WIAA 3A State Football Tournament.
The last time Edmonds-Woodway went to state in football was 2011.
The Warriors, ranked No.8 in the Associate Press 3A state poll, will face the winner of the Nov. 4 match-up between Stanwood and Eastside Catholic (ranked No.1 in the AP poll) on either Nov. 10 or 11 in the first round of the state championship tourney.
E-W was without Kelly Jackson, Aaron Richardson, Salihou Fatty and leading rusher Cappasio Cherry for Friday’s tilt against Gig Harbor, yet the Warriors still able to move the ball consistently on offense and hold back the Tides on defense.
The Warrior offense rolled up 351 yards — 221 on the ground despite not have Jackson, Fatty nor Cappasio contributing to the rushing game. And the defense gave up just one score to the Tides, and that came only after Gig Harbor was able to start a short drive on the E-W 22-yard line after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half.
E-W Coach John Gradwohl was pleased with the way his team handled the adversity of playing without a full roster.
“Offensively we had a couple key injuries and had to kind of work our way around that,” he said. “I thought it wasn’t awesome, but it was good. It was good enough.”
Without Cherry, Jackson or Fatty available to run the ball, the Warriors were going to count on Chappell to take a more active role in moving the offense from his quarterback position. “All season, if they watched any of our film, they know we are a run-first team; so they probably would have stuffed Cappasio (and other rushers) anyway,” Chappell explained. “So we planned on airing it out a little more.”
Chappell completed 10 of 17 pass attempts for 139 yards and a touchdown in the game. The senior also ran for 34 yards and two scores, an 8-yard dash in the first quarter to put the Warriors up 7-0, and a 1-yard sneak midway through the second quarter to give E-W a 14-0 lead.
Although the plan was to have Chappell put the ball in the air a little more than usual, the 6-foot-1-inch quarterback showed no hesitation in tucking the ball in and heading down field when the opportunity arose.
“I’ve always kind of looked to run before I throw the ball – I used to play running back when I was younger,” Chappell explained. “I found some running lanes; I was able to slip off some tackles and have some nice runs — (plus) really good downfield blocking by my fullbacks, by my receivers.”
When Chappell did let the ball fly, it was often in the direction of teammate Jaro Rouse. The junior had six receptions for 95 yards, including a 20-yard catch for a third-quarter touchdown.
After the game, Chappell explained why he targeted Rouse throughout the night; “I’ve been playing with him for years,” Chappell said. “He’s one of my best friends, he’s a really good receiver, makes lots of tough catches, super athletic, good vertical — why not throw to him?” he said.
The Warrior defensive effort was especially notable on Friday considering the many offensive looks that the Tides give their opposition. “I thought we adapted well,” Gradwohl said. “We weren’t perfect, but I thought we adapted and the longer we played the better we got.”
Gig Harbor picked up only seven first downs — one on a fake punt — and 193 yards in total offense on Friday. The Warrior defense also forced the Tides into five punts and into committing three turnovers in the contest.
In addition, the E-W defense sacked Gig Harbor quarterback Ryan Baerg six times in the game.
The Warriors are hoping to get Richardson back from injury next week for a match-up that Chappell sees as the watershed game of the postseason.
“We’ve got the winner of Eastside (Catholic) and Stanwood next week, so next week’s going to be a big challenge,” Chappell said. “And if we can win that game, who knows.”
To view the 2017 WIAA 3A State Football Tournament bracket, click http://www.wescoathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=2385&sport=1.
Prep Football: Gig Harbor at Edmonds-Woodway, Nov. 3 (3A Football Playoff)
Gig Harbor 0 0 6 0 — 6
Edmonds-Woodway 7 7 7 3 — 24
First quarter scoring:
3:01 — Reilly Chappell (Edmonds-Woodway) 8-yard TD run; Jackson Karr PAT kick is good
Second quarter scoring:
6:05 — Reilly Chappell (Edmonds-Woodway) 1-yard TD run; Jackson Karr PAT kick is good
Third quarter scoring:
11:21 — Jesse Valona (Gig Harbor) 4-yard TD run; Logan Kinney PAT kick hits left upright and is no good
1:29 — Reilly Chappell (Edmonds-Woodway) 20-yard TD pass to Jaro Rouse; Jackson Karr PAT kick is good
Fourth quarter scoring:
2:27 — Jackson Karr 33-yard field goal
Records: Edmonds-Woodway 6-0 in 2A/3A Wesco League South Conference, 9-1 overall; Gig Harbor 4-3 in 3A South Sound Conference, 5-5 overall
Edmonds-Woodway next game: versus winner of Stanwood – Eastside Catholic game, Friday, Nov. 10 or Saturday, Nov. 11, place and time to be determined.
— By Doug Petrowski