The Federal Way High School Eagles football team was eliminated from the Class 4A state tournament Nov. 12 by Skyline High School with a score of 33-27.
“We just got in our own way,” said Eagles Coach Marcus Yzaguirre.
Federal Way was the underdog coming into this match, and early on was finding success against this stout Spartan offense, but could not capitalize on those opportunities.
The first drive of the game was pure poetry, a perfect mix of running and passing the ball that put the Eagles on the board first. A drive with zero negative plays was capped off by a 35-yard reception to four star recruit and senior Rahshawn Clark, putting the Eagles up 7-0.
Skyline responded with a touchdown of its own. Colorado State commit TJ Crandall found the end zone for a seven-yard reception, but the Spartans failed to convert the two-point conversion. Federal Way still led 7-6.
On the ensuing FW drive, the Eagles were given a little bit more of a challenge. A huge fourth-and-10 conversion kept the drive alive and allowed them to get inside the Skyline 20. A high snap led FW to abandon their field goal and the Eagles were denied points to add to their lead, seemingly giving Skyline momentum.
And momentum they used on the very next play.
Crandall again burned the Eagle secondary with a double move and a perfect pass from junior QB Michael Grimmer to put Skyline in front — and the Spartans never looked back. A 67-yard touchdown throw and catch, and another failed two-point try, kept FW in the game 12-7.
“We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were there,” Yzaguirre said.
An example of this was with 6:26 left in the second quarter, when FW was threatening the lead. The Eagles were stopped outside the end zone, with fumbled snaps on both second and third downs. This led to a sack on fourth and goal.
On that Spartan possession, with penalties and negative plays, they were forced to play a third-and-45, and got it to a fourth-and-15. They converted on that fourth-and-15 on a pass to Crandall, keeping the drive alive. With 46 seconds left in the half, Skyline found the end zone again with a 15-yard touchdown reception to senior Nahmir Robinson, increasing its lead 19-7.
With 30 seconds left in the half, Federal Way was driving down the field, hoping to get some last-second points. After a reception at the Spartan 35 yard line, Eagles senior QB Jay O’Neil spiked the ball, presumably stopping the clock. On the following play, Federal Way threw an incomplete pass about 15-20 yards down the field, stopping the clock again. The play took about seven to 10 seconds. The clock had three seconds, totally taking away any opportunity the Eagles thought they may have had. The referees had two opportunities to fix the clock, but nothing was done about it.
In the second half, Skyline scored a touchdown on their first possession, extending the lead to 26-7. Federal Way responded with a touchdown of its own, two trick plays including a backward pass to wide receiver who found Jaylon Jenkins and closed the gap. The two-point conversion was ran in by senior Maki Piper, and the score was 25-16.
FW took that momentum on defense and forced a Spartan punt. Rahshawn Clark was the returner and had a huge return deep into Spartan territory. A six-yard run from number six sophomore Deon Vann got the Eagles as close to the Spartans as they had been since the first quarter, 21-26.
Skyline was just able to put the game out of reach on their next drive, converting a third-and-long and a fourth down. A 19-yard reception by senior Nathan Fischer capped off the Spartan scoring at 33-21 with 7:34 left in the fourth.
The Eagles wouldn’t respond until there were just 50 ticks on the clock. But it was something that Yzaguirre was proud of.
“That was the most important thing is we didn’t give up,” he said.
The final touchdown drive was led once again by Clark, who drew a face-mask on the end of a huge catch inside the five yard line. Piper drove it in from a yard out, with a missed extra point, and FW trailed 33-26. It all came down to the onside kick. FW needed a miracle and was denied.
It was the final game for 23 seniors on the Eagles roster. Coach Izzy’s message to them was simple: It was a “hell of a season, they did things people thought they wouldn’t do. They fought all the way throughout this week and I made sure that they know I am proud of them.”
Skyline will go on to face NPSL juggernaut Kennedy Catholic next week. For the coach and his guys, they want to use this game as fuel for next season — and are ready to repeat the success of this season.