Federal Way football falls, 27-21

By CASEY OLSON, The Mirror

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end for the Federal Way High School football team.

The Eagles had rolled through the regular season with a perfect 7-0 record in the South Puget Sound League North Division and were ranked seventh in the state entering Saturday night’s preliminary round playoff game against Cascade. The Bruins finished third in the Wesco Conference and were being forced to play on the Eagles’ home turf at Federal Way Memorial Stadium with a berth into the Class 4A State Playoffs on the line.

Everything seemed to be set up perfect for Federal Way to make its first appearance in the state playoffs since 1976.

But Cascade wasn’t a willing participant in the Eagles’ run into the state playoffs.

Bruin running back Lorne Bridgford’s touchdown with no time left on the Federal Way Memorial Stadium clock Saturday night ended the Eagles’ season in ultra-disappointing fashion, 27-21.

Bridgford, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior, finished the game with 257 yards rushing on 34 carries and two touchdowns, including the game-winner. Bridgford’s final touchdown sent several tearful Federal Way players to the turf in disbelief.

Cascade (7-3) hosts Eastlake (9-1) Saturday in the first round of the 16-team state playoffs. The Eagles (8-2) are left thinking about what-ifs, especially on Cascade’s game-winning drive.

With the score tied at 21-21 and time running out, Cascade drove deep into Federal Way territory and lined up for the game-winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock. The kick sailed wide right and time expired, but the Eagles were flagged for a roughing the kicker penalty, giving Cascade another chance at the field goal from the 1-yard line.

When Federal Way was flagged for offsides, moving the ball to the 1/2-yard line, Cascade head coach Jake Huizinga scrapped plans for the field goal and handed the ball off to Bridgford, who rolled in over the left tackle, and the Bruins celebrated by dog-piling in the end zone.

The final play of the game was Cascade’s first lead since the first quarter when it led 7-0. That’s when things started off a little shaky for the Eagles. After receiving the opening kickoff, Andre Barrington couldn’t handle a pitch from quarterback Justin Southern on Federal Way’s second play from scrimmage and the ball was picked up by a Cascade defender at the Eagles’ 45-yard line.

Bridgford immediately rolled through the Federal Way defense untouched on the Bruins’ first play for the 45-yard touchdown to give Cascade a 7-0 lead after just 49 seconds had elapsed in the game.

But the early Cascade touchdown seemed to calm whatever nerves the Eagles had entering the game.

With 2:30 left in the opening quarter, Federal Way tied the game on a circus catch by senior wideout Aaron Broussard. Southern threw the ball into the endzone from 28 yards out and the 6-foot-5 Broussard went up over the smaller Cascade cornerback and tipped the ball before pulling it into his chest while laying on the ground.

But Broussard wasn’t done. On Cascade’s next possession, the senior picked off a pass and returned it to the Bruins’ 24-yard line. A late hit out of bounds gave the Eagles first-and-10 from the 12. Barrington took the first play up the middle for an easy touchdown to give Federal Way a 14-7 lead with 39 seconds left in the first quarter.

That’s how the game stayed until the second half. Cascade tallied the only points of the third quarter when Bruin quarterback Aaron Frye hit Clint Walker on a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 14-14, which set up a back and forth final 12 minutes.

Federal Way cashed in first during the fourth quarter, thanks, in large part, to a 37-yard interception return by Sean Cornelius to the Cascade 10-yard line. Barrington took the next play up the middle for a touchdown with 10:22 left in the game to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead. Barrington finished with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Saturday night’s yardage gave him more than 1,000 yards for the second-straight season.

Cascade answered Barrington’s second touchdown of the game when Julian Willis rolled around right and into the corner of the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown. That finished off an 80-yard, nine-play drive with 6:33 to go.

Federal Way should be solid again next season with the return of Barrington, running back/linebacker George Williams and middle linebacker/offensive lineman Andru Pulu. But the Eagles also lose plenty of talent, most notably Southern and his entire wide receiving corps.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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