FOOTBALL: Third-ranked Eagles turn up the speed during 62-28 win over Graham-Kapowsin; TJ beats K-M

Federal Way senior running back Zeek McNeal scored three touchdowns during a 62-28 win over Graham-Kapowsin Thursday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Federal Way senior running back Zeek McNeal scored three touchdowns during a 62-28 win over Graham-Kapowsin Thursday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

There's no denying that the Federal Way High School football team is fun to watch.

The third-ranked Eagles used their unbelievable speed an big-play ability Thursday night to outscore Graham-Kapowsin, 62-28, in a mega-entertaining game at Federal Way Memorial Stadium in a key early-season South Puget Sound League South Division battle.

The win moves Federal Way to 3-0 in the SPSL South and sets up another huge division battle Friday night against the Bethel Braves at Art Crate Stadium in Graham. The Braves, who lost to Curtis last week, are 2-1 in the division. The Eagles are the only unbeaten team in the SPSL South and could separate even further with a win over Bethel.

Against Graham-Kapowsin, who came into the game unbeaten, Federal Way put up video game numbers. The Eagles scored six touchdowns of 30 or more yards, including a 73-yard punt return and 56-yard pass reception from super sophomore Chico McClatcher. Both touchdowns came in a back-and-forth first half that saw big play after big play by both teams.

McClatcher's punt return came just two minutes into the game to give the Eagles a quick 7-0 lead. But Graham-Kapowsin, who were the preseason second-place selection by the league's coaches behind Federal Way, didn't lay down under the pressure of the Eagles.

The two teams exchanged the lead four times during the first half and scored on seven consecutive drives. During the back-and-forth first half, Graham-Kapowsin had touchdown plays of 44, 66, 2 and 19 yards to counteract the Eagles' big plays.

Federal Way, however, took control of the game late in the second quarter by scoring three unanswered touchdowns to overcome a 21-20 Graham-Kapowsin lead. Senior running back Zeek McNeal tallied a pair of touchdown runs of 30 and 16 yards to give the Eagles a 34-21 lead.

Senior middle linebacker Albert Havili capped the first-half outburst by intercepting a Graham-Kapowsin pass and returning it 30 yards to give Federal Way a commanding 41-21 lead.

Graham-Kapowsin did get a 19-yard touchdown run by Teague James late in the second quarter to tighten the score to 41-28, but Federal Way's speed and power wore down Graham-Kapowsin in the second half.

The Eagles tallied 21 unanswered points in the third and fourth quarters to turn the game into a blowout. Senior fullback Rod Jones scored from 1-yard out, McNeal collected his third touchdown of the night on an 8-yard run and senior Marcell Morris hauled in a 30-yard pass from senior D'Londo Tucker in the fourth quarter to finalize the score. Tucker also caught a 41-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter from quarterback Evan Elliot, who finished 7 for 8 for 152 yards.

Jones' 1-yard plunge was set up by another mind-blowing run by McClathcher. The sophomore broke loose from the Graham-Kapowsin defense and rumbled 67 yards before being pulled down at the 1-yard line.

Defensively, Federal Way finished with five interceptions, including a pair by Keenan Curran. The Eagles are averaging 48 points during their 3-0 start.

In other football action:

• The Thomas Jefferson Raiders picked up their first win of the season Friday night over the Kent-Meridian Royals, 27-24, at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

The Raiders (1-2) tallied 21 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 17-6 lead by Kent-Meridian, who beat the defending SPSL North champion Kentlake Falcons last week.

Jefferson got on the scoreboard first with a 7-yard touchdown run by Shane Seumae. But Kent-Meridian answered back by scoring the next 17 points.

The Raiders then got a pair of 28-yard touchdown passes from Niko Delacruz. The first was to McKay Owsley and the second was to Phillip Cuadros.

Jefferson's Lucas Geoff then recovered a Kent-Meridian fumble in the endzone to give the Raiders a 27-17 lead. The Royals got a 90-yard touchdown pass to finalize the score.

• The Decatur Gators (1-2) lost a non-league game to the Battle Ground Tigers, 56-20, Friday night. Decatur kept the score close throughout halftime, but the Tigers tallied 28 points in the third quarter to take a 49-13 lead.

Decatur took a quick 7-0 lead on a 33-run by Zane Coop and pulled to within 14-13 in the second quarter on a 35-yard pass from Isaiah Hatch to Isaiah Diggs. But it was all Battle Ground from then on.

The Gators did get a late touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 70-yard fumble return by Diggs.

Decatur got 11 carries for 67 yards from Noel Maafala and Hatch finished 6 for 14 for 94 yards. Battle Ground (3-0) racked up 363 rushing and had two players over 100 yards Friday.

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