Federal Way blows out Tahoma; Kentwood up next

Federal Way High School senior quarterback Justin Southern rolls over the goal line during Friday night
Federal Way High School senior quarterback Justin Southern rolls over the goal line during Friday night's 38-13 win over the Tahoma Bears at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. The win kept the Eagles unbeaten in the South Puget Sound League North Division.
— image credit: Charles Cortes, For The Mirror

The Tahoma Bears currently have what the Federal Way Eagles want — the South Puget Sound League North Division title.

In fact, the Bears have the last three SPSL North championship banners hanging up inside their gym.

But Federal Way made a big-time statement Friday night in its quest of sitting atop the eight-team division with a 38-13 thrashing of Tahoma at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. The win improved the Eagles to 3-0 in SPSL North play and 4-1 overall and dropped the Bears to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the North.

“A big thing we talked about this week was finishing and we did that tonight,” Federal Way head coach John Meagher said. “We really put together a complete game. Tahoma gave us a challenge and they are the three-time defending champs. Our kids stepped up and finished.”

The Bears could never get anything going offensively against an extremely fast and athletic Federal Way defense. In turn, the Tahoma defense couldn’t get any type of penetration against the Eagle offensive line and allowed Federal Way quarterback Justin Southern to have his way.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Southern completed 14 of 20 passes for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns and also ran for 81 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown.

“He’s been making great decisions all year,” Meagher said of Southern. “He hasn’t thrown an interception in five games.”

The victory over the Bears sets up a huge SPSL North showdown at French Field Thursday night with Kentwood. The Conquerors and Eagles are the lone unbeaten teams in the North Division.

“We didn’t even think about Kentwood heading into this game,” Southern said. “We were focused on Tahoma. They are a good team. But we really stepped up tonight, especially the offensive line.”

The win and Southern’s play were even more impressive when you looked at the Eagles’ sideline after the final gun sounded Friday night. Federal Way played without its two best running backs, junior Andre Barrington and sophomore George Williams, wide receiver Shane Elliot, and lost senior wideout/defensive back Aaron Broussard just before the half to an ankle injury.

Barrington’s loss could have been a big one. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder will be a Division I recruit next season and had scored eight total touchdowns in the last two games — both Federal Way wins. Barrington rolled his ankle during practice on Tuesday and was wearing a walking boot Friday night.

“We’ll see what happens,” Meagher said. “We are hoping that he can play against Kentwood. But the other kids really stepped up.”

Senior Justin Amundsen moved over from his normal wide receiver position to replace Barrington and Williams, who was Federal Way’s second-leading rusher a season ago, at tail back. Amundsen didn’t rack up huge yardage on Tahoma’s defense, but he ran the ball 18 times and took a little pressure off Southern.

Both offenses struggled early in the game Friday night, mostly because neither team could establish the run, but also because of turnovers. The Bears fumbled away the opening kickoff and Federal Way responded by giving the ball right back, thanks to an Amundsen fumble, on their first offensive play.

The two teams then exchanged punts throughout a scoreless first quarter, before Federal Way broke the drought with a 14-play, 89-yard drive to start the second quarter. Junior Gabe Jackson finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put Federal Way up 7-0. Senior Sean Cornelius caught three passes for 51 yards on the drive.

After Tahoma’s second straight three-and-out, Southern rolled around the right side of the Bears defense for a 27-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 14-0 with 7:21 left in the first half.

Tahoma finally got on the board on its next drive when junior Chris Marangon hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Heyden Johnson on a huge fourth-down play. The score cut the Federal Way lead to 14-7 with just over four minutes left in the second quarter. But that was as close as the Bears would get.

The Tahoma defense allowed 24 unanswered points to the Eagles. First, Southern led Federal Way 60 yards in seven plays, before throwing a 16-yard pass to Montrel Walton with just over a minute left in the half.

Amundsen then stripped the ball from Tahoma’s Landon Burns after a 26-yard reception, setting up a field goal by Kelyn Rowe for a 24-7 halftime lead.

Following the break, Amundsen rolled through the middle of the Bear defense for a 4-yard touchdown, which was set up by Greylin James’ 40-yard reception.

Johnson immediately followed by throwing an interception to Federal Way’s Cornelius, who returned the ball to the 6-yard line.

Southern then hit James to put the Eagles up 38-7 with 6:27 left in the third quarter.

“We were very focused tonight,” Southern said. “We are a hungry team. Our goal is to be the SPSL champs and we are just taking it one step at a time.”

Tahoma tallied the final touchdown of the night when Kurt LaFranchi scored on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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