Football: Auburn takes down Federal Way in season opener

Federal Way junior wide receiver Alden Coleman is tackled by an Auburn defender Thursday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. Auburn won the game, 21-14, in both teams’ opening game of the high school football season. The Eagles won the SPSL North Division a season ago.   - Joshua Lymch/staff photo
Federal Way junior wide receiver Alden Coleman is tackled by an Auburn defender Thursday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. Auburn won the game, 21-14, in both teams’ opening game of the high school football season. The Eagles won the SPSL North Division a season ago.
— image credit: Joshua Lymch/staff photo

Auburn High School senior Jeff Gouveia wasn't about to let his team lose its season-opening showdown with seventh-ranked Federal Way Thursday night.

The 5-foot-10, 220-pound do-everything football player didn't let a missed extra-point attempt late in the second quarter derail a young but talented Trojan team. Gouveia tallied the go-ahead touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion late in the third quarter, leading Auburn to a 21-14 win Thursday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

It was Auburn's first game as a Class 4A school since 2005 and it came against the defending South Puget Sound League North Division champs — the Eagles.

"I told coach to give me the ball," said Gouveia, who finished with 21 carries for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns. "I will carry the team and that's what I did."

The Eagles also had no answer for Gouveia and the rest of the power running game of the Trojans' offense. Auburn finished with 284 yards on the ground.

"He is a hell of a football player," Federal Way head coach John Meagher said about Gouveia. "He is a rock. Hats off to him. Auburn is a physical football team. A couple good runners, a big offensive line. They just kept pounding us."

But it was the Auburn defense that stuffed the Federal Way running game all night long. The Trojans controlled the line of scrimmage and held the Eagles to a grand total of 12 rushing yards and only three first downs. Federal Way tallied zero yards on the ground and just one first down in the second half.

"The bottom line is their kids stepped up," Meagher said. "They are a good football team and they came out of the gate better than us."

To further illustrate the Auburn dominance of the football game, all you have to look at are the total number of offensive plays each team ran on the night. The Trojans' offense got off 61 plays from scrimmage, while Federal Way lined up only 34 times.

Despite the domination on both sides of the ball, Federal Way was actually leading the game late in the third quarter, thanks to a pair of big plays. The Eagles overcame a 13-0 advantage by Auburn with 14 unanswered points.

Federal Way running back George Williams tallied the Eagles' first touchdown of the night with just 39 seconds remaining in the first half on a 3-yard run up the middle. The seven-play drive was set up by senior Niko Curran's 60-yard kickoff return to the Trojans' 25-yard line.

The second half opened Federal Way junior quarterback Nick Tanielu connecting on a 66-yard touchdown pass to Rian Miller to make it 14-13 just 22 seconds into the third quarter. Tanielu finished 5 for 8 for 99 yards and the touchdown. He was also intercepted once by Auburn's Doug Davis early in the second quarter.

But Auburn didn't panic and just leaned a little more on the wide shoulders of Gouveia.

"I told my players to stay focused," Gouveia said. "We got this."

Gouveia capped a five-play, 33-yard drive with the 5-yard touchdown run up the middle and also ran in the ensuing two-point conversion to put the Trojans up for good, 21-14. Gouveia's first touchdown of the night came wih 4:00 left in the second quarter on a 6-yard run to put Auburn up, 13-0.

Federal Way had a shot at tying the game late in the fourth quarter after a bad snap on a punt gave the Eagles possession at the Auburn 31. But 6-3, 305-pound sophomore Danny Shelton swallowed up Federal Way running back George Williams, forcing a fumble. Auburn linebacker Daniel Pita recovered the ball with 5:45 to play in the game. Auburn ran out the rest of the game clock on 11-straight rushing plays by Gouveia and junior Chris Young, who tallied Auburn's first touchdown of the night on a 7-yard run with 3:23 left in the first quarter. Young finished with 68 yards on 11 carries.

The Trojans played without senior quarterback/defensive back Carlo Levoie, who didn't have the required 12 practices to compete in a game. Marshall Klontz, who starting two games last season, filled in for Levoie at quarterback.

But Federal Way was also short-handed Thursday night.

Federal Way played without its all-everything tailback/linebacker Andre Barrington, as well as several players who were academically ineligible. The Eagles suited up only 31 players on the night.

Barrington was on the sidelines Thursday dressed in a letterman's jacket and shorts, thanks to an injury to his right knee. The senior tweaked it in practice a week ago, Meagher said.

"We found out he wasn't going to play about 5:30 last night," said Federal Way head coach John Meagher. "There was some swelling, so we had him get an MRI. There is no tear and he won't need any surgery. But he will be out a couple weeks."

Barrington sitting out Thursday came just two days after he verbally committed to play next season for the Washington State Cougars. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder, who led Federal Way in rushing yards and tackles a season ago, notified first-year Cougar coach Paul Wulff of his intentions on Tuesday. Last season, Barrington ran for 1,028 yards and 18 total touchdowns. He will most likely play defense in college.

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