In battle of ground games, Warriors run over Mariner

Mac McLachlan had 141 yards and a touchdown for E-W. (Photos by Karl Swenson)

Edmonds-Woodway High School’s ground game overwhelmed Mariner’s Friday night as a battle of the league’s leading rushers went to E-W’s Junior Opoku-Mensah. The Warrior senior running back gained 271 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Edmonds-Woodway to a 56-12 victory and an undefeated regular season.

Mac McLachlan added 141 yards and a touchdown and Nick Venema also added two touchdowns of his own as E-W racked up over 500 yards of rushing. The win sets up a playoff game next week at Lake Stevens for the outright Wesco title. “They dominated the line of scrimmage,” said Mariner coach John Ondriezek.” They’re a darn good football team who fights hard on every play.”

Nick Venema scored two TDs for the Warriors.
Nick Venema scored two TDs for the Warriors.

Mariner’s first possession ended on three downs as Travis Bakken tackled previous Wesco leading rusher Joshua Williamson on 3rd down. Following the punt, E-W began to move the ball, but turned it over on downs after failing on a 4th down play. On the Marauders’ next possession, E-W’s Connor McCole intercepted the pass on Mariner’s first play, then fumbled it on the return. But it was recovered by an alert Spencer Schults, setting up E-W on the Marauder 45. Four plays later on 4th down, Warrior quarterback Davis Giles hit Jason Smarr on a slant near the goal-line and Smarr did the rest, getting into the end zone for an early 7-0 Warrior lead. “I love having Davis as quarterback, “ said Smarr. “If I get open, he’ll find me.”

Following a failed drive by Mariner, Edmonds-Woodway moved the ball down the short field, gaining 41 yards on five plays, capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Nick Venema, his first of two on the night. With 1:11 left in the first, McLachlan intercepted the Marauders’ pass at the 42. With another short field to work with, it looked like the Warriors would strike again, but Brandon Hohengarten had the ball knocked out of his hands just as he was about to score, giving the ball back to Mariner. Hohengarten redeemed himself, sacking the Mariner quarterback on 2nd down followed by a Bakken sack on 3rd down, and the Marauders were forced to punt again.

Junior Opoku-Mensah
Junior Opoku-Mensah runs for one of his four touchdowns Friday.

Starting from their own 42 with eight minutes left in the half, the Junior and Mac show took over, with the two rushing for 58 yards on only five plays. Opoku-Mensah finished it off on a four-yard run to make it 21-0.

Mariner made it interesting, taking advantage of E-W penalties before Joshua Williamson went off tackle for 60 yards and a Marauder touchdown. The extra point was missed, making it 21-6, which ended up being the score at half time. E-W coach Gradwohl was pleased to be ahead, but admitted he still needed to make some half-time adjustments. “They are talented kids,” he said. “I’m glad we won.”

Mariner’s homecoming crowd tried to rally the troops, but E-W had a quick silencer as its opening drive of the second half took only three plays — one by Venema and two by Opoku-Mensah, including a 27-yarder to complete the 56-yard drive.

The Warriors got the ball back again three minutes later and following eight rushing plays, Opoku-Mensah danced in from the one-yard line, making it 35-6 with 4:44 left in the third quarter. Following a 3 and out by Mariner, Opoku-Mensah took the hand-off and raced 82 yards for another touchdown, giving the Warriors a comfortable lead. “I’m speechless,” the Warrior tailback said after hearing that he had gained 271 yards during the game. “My line does great. This is Warrior football.”

The Marauders attempted a comeback as they capitalized on a kickoff return by LeAndre Morris and a facemask penalty on the Warriors, and were able to cut the lead to 42-12. But there was no need for Warrior fans to worry, as Mclachlan took the first hand-off of the next drive and raced 80 yards, making it 49-12 as the third period ended. E-W would then complete the scoring late in the fourth quarter on Venema’s second touchdown of the night.

The Warriors had nearly 600 yards of total offense, including over 500 rushing yards. Quarterback Giles talked about being the quarterback on a team that runs so well, “ Obviously as a quarterback I’d love to throw more, but it’s so easy back there,” he said. “I just read the play, hand it off and away they go.”

“We’re 8 and 0. Undefeated. I just love winning,” he added.

Next Friday’s game against the Vikings marks the third year in a row the Warriors have faced Lake Stevens in the seeding round. This time, it’s for the Wesco title and the No. 1 seed heading into the District crossovers. “Hopefully third year’s a charm,” Gradwohl said.

“I’m ready for them,” added Giles.

Friday’s kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Lake Stevens Stadium

Edmonds-Woodway (8-0)14 7 28 7 56
Mariner                     (2-6) 0 6 6 0 12

1st period
E-W Smarr 27 yards pass from Giles 5:30
E-W Venema 8 yard run 1:18
2nd period
E-W Opoku-Mensah 4 yard run 5:59
M Williamson 60 yard run 2:17
3rd period
E-W Opoku-Mensah 27 yard run 10:59
E-W Opoku-Mensah 1 yard run 4:44
E-W Opoku-Mensah 82 yard run 4:04
M Williamson 4 yard run :11
E-W McLachlan 80 yard run :04
4th period
E-W Venema 15 yard run 3:03

— By Jeff Smarr

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