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FOOTBALL: Federal Way flies into state quarterfinals with a blowout win over Rogers
The Federal Way Eagles made a little history Friday night.
For the first time since 1976 the second-ranked Eagles will play in the state quarterfinal round. Federal Way blew away Rogers, 46-28, in a matchup of South Puget Sound League South Division foes at Federal Way Memorial Stadium in the opening round of the 16-team Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The win also moved the Eagles to 11-0 for the first time since 1976.
"It's exciting," said longtime head coach John Meagher. "Things started out well and the defense kind of had them in a stranglehold all night long."
To say the least. The Federal Way defense dominated Rogers in the first half, limiting the Rams to just nine yards of total offense and one first down. The Eagles also caused five turnovers during the first two quarters, including four interceptions, and bolted out to a 40-0 lead at halftime.
The entire second half was played with a running clock and the Eagles' second-stringers. Rogers continued to play its starters and tallied four touchdowns to make the final score look a little more respectable.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) voted to employ the running clock if a team leads by 40 points before the season.
The Eagles will now take on the unbeaten and third-ranked Camas Papermakers at 5 p.m. at Doc Harris Stadium in Camas on Saturday night in the state quarterfinals. Cams blew out Arlington in their opening-round game Saturday, 62-6. Much like Federal Way, the second half of Camas' game was played with a running clock after the Papermakers jumped out to a huge first-half lead.
"It's always great to have home field advantage," said junior Keenan Curran, who had a touchdown pass and a 99-yard touchdown run Friday. "But we are also proud to be road warriors."
Camas (10-0) won the Greater St. Helen's League and is currently ranked behind Skyline (11-0) and Federal Way. Arlington (5-6) upset unbeaten Kentwood last week in the preliminary round of the state playoffs.
Senior running back Zeek McNeal got things going early for the Eagle offense against Rogers.
After a Mike Tate interception on Rogers' first possession of the game, McNeal bolted around the right side of the Rams' defense 37 yards for a touchdown on Federal Way's first play from scrimmage.
Things got worse for Rogers. On their next play, senior cornerback J.J. McNeal, Zeek's twin brother, intercepted another pass from Rams quarterback Stefan Van Horne and returned it 40 yards for another Federal Way touchdown. Senior Koby Craig had his first two extra-point attempts blocked to give the Eagles a 12-0 lead.
But things kind of settled down after that, until the electric Chico McClatcher struck again for the Eagles. Early in the second quarter, the sophomore returned a punt 75 yards right through the center of the Rogers' team to give Federal Way a commanding 19-0 lead.
"Chico's punt return kind of got us going," Meagher said.
Friday night's game was McClatcher's first in three weeks. The sophomore sat out the Eagles' final regular season game against Curtis and last week's win over Issaquah with an illness.
"I really wanted to play with the team," McClatcher said. "I just love the team and wanted to support them. But tonight, we know that we have the fastest team in the state right now. We just want to go out and put points on the board."
McClatcher also set up Federal Way's next touchdown with a 41-yard punt return. Senior fullback Rod Jones punched the ball in from 2 yards out to put the Eagles up 26-0 with 6:36 left in the half.
A D'Londo Tucker interception paved the way for Federal Way's next score, which came on a perfectly-thrown, 21-yard fade from Curran to Marcel Morris in the corner of the endzone to put the Eagles up 33-0.
Zeek McNeal culminated a six-play drive with a 12-yard touchdown run with 1:36 left in the half to put Federal Way up 40-0. McNeal finished the first half with 82 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries.
Rogers tallied four touchdowns during the second half. Federal Way's lone points came on the 99-yard touchdown run by Curran with 2:54 left in the game.
"It was a fun game," Curran said. "It was a lot of fun. We definitely knew that it would be tough playing them for a second time."
The two teams played Aug. 31 during the SPSL South regular season, which the Eagles also won easily, 41-14. That game also featured a second-half running clock after Federal Way jumped out to a 41-0 lead before halftime.