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STATE FOOTBALL: Eastlake ends Federal Way's magical season, 21-11 | Slideshow
Federal Way High School’s most promising season in quite some time came to an abrupt end Saturday night. The Eagles (10-1) ran into the Eastlake Wolves in the opening round of the Class 4A State Football Playoffs, with the Wolves coming out on top, 21-11. (See game photos).
Hosting its first home state playoff game since 1976, Federal Way played a tough game against Eastlake, but was unable to overcome its own mistakes against one of the top high school programs in the state.
“I thought the kids played hard. I was proud of our effort,” Eagles head coach John Meagher said. “We didn’t execute well offensively. Our defense played well, considering we were missing two important kids.”
The Eagles defense was stout throughout most of the game, despite missing senior defensive stars Jordan Pulu and Uso Olive. The Eagles’ defense was able to contain the Wolves’ offense through most of the game, with Federal Way holding Eastlake to a 7-3 lead at the half.
Eastlake’s first touchdown came on an odd sequence during which running back Ryan Lewis initially caught the ball and was swarmed under by a gang of Federal Way defenders. Somewhere in the ensuing scrum, Lewis was able to get the ball in the hands of teammate Brian Quick, who scampered in for the touchdown.
Meagher was still scratching his head after the game regarding Eastlake’s first touchdown.
“I don’t know (what happened),” he said. “The ref said he handed it to the kid, I guess. It seemed like his forward progress was stopped, and all of a sudden I see a kid squirt through and he’s got the ball.”
Federal Way had a chance to take the lead late in the first half, when running back Zeek McNeal broke off a 35-yard run into Eastlake territory. The Eagles drove down to the Wolves 10-yard line with the clock winding down, but their best scoring opportunity of the first half was ended when Eastlake intercepted an errant Federal Way pass.
The Eagles had relied on star running back D.J. May to gear their offense all season long. But May was unable to get his motor running on Saturday night. Every time he touched the ball, May was seemingly met by two or three Eastlake defenders.
Meagher credited Eastlake’s defense with shutting down his star running back, but also felt Federal Way didn’t make it any easier on themselves offensively.
“They’re a good defense. There’s a reason why they’re 9-1. We weren’t able to do a lot of things,” Meagher said. “We didn’t execute at a level we’re used to. Part of that was their defense, part of that was…I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for it. We didn’t execute like we have all year. It was just mental mistakes.”
The Wolves put another touchdown on the board with 4:25 left in the third quarter, when quarterback Keegan Kemp connected with Daniel Grotjahn on an 11-yard pass.
The two teams would trade possessions through most of the fourth quarter, with neither team able to drive very effectively against the other’s defense. Eastlake would put the icing on the cake, though, with 27 seconds left in the game, when the aforementioned Lewis scored on a two-yard TD run to make the score 21-3.
Federal Way’s offense finally came to life on their final possession, with QB D’Londo Tucker connecting with Chico McClatcher for a 59-yard TD pass. The Eagles successfully converted the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 21-11. Eastlake would simply kneel on their ensuing possession, ending the Eagles’ successful 2011 campaign.
Meagher felt this team had a lot to be proud of, regardless of Saturday night’s outcome.
“I’m really proud of the kids, we had a great season. I’m extremely proud of their effort. They shouldn’t hang their heads one bit. They should keep their heads high and be proud of the season. It was a great year,” he said.