It wasn’t the beginning and ending that Kentwood High wanted in its pursuit of a fulfilling football season, but the Conquerors discovered more about themselves along the way.
“Our team was extremely resilient this year,” said coach Michael Bush. “The players came together and started to play for each other halfway through the season. We spent our first five weeks of the season building our team’s camaraderie and confidence in themselves … and, in addition, allowing themselves to believe in one another – and the coaches. That was a huge step for them.”
Kentwood overcame an 0-4 start, won four of its next five games to qualify for the district playoffs as the North Puget Sound League’s No. 4 seed, only to see its season end with a 67-29 loss to Curtis, the South Puget Sound League’s No. 3 seed, at French Field last Saturday night.
The Vikings (7-3) advance to play at Lake Stevens (10-0) in a state 4A first-round playoff game Friday.
The Conquerors finished 4-6, their first losing record in the program’s 37-year history.
Bush hopes his returning players can grow from a difficult season and turn things around next year. Bush’s teams are 26-15, with three league titles and a state playoff appearance in the past four seasons.
Kentwood returns plenty of good talent for 2019, notably quarterback Jalin Church, who grew as a sophomore starter; running back Gabriel Johnson, a 1,000-yard rusher as a junior this season; speedy wideouts Alphonse Oywak and Dyllon Daniels, junior playmakers on both sides of the ball this fall; big back Lole Tapasa, a sophomore; and Wyatt Hansen, a 6-foot-4, 258-pound junior lineman.
“Although, this season has had its ups and downs, the kids have learned a valuable lesson on how to deal with adversity and fight to push through,” Bush said. “This is something that usually happens in the offseason in the weight room and agility (drills), but our attendance was not where it should have been to earn us our seventh league title in a row.
“This was a very satisfying year for our staff, as it allowed us to exemplify and to live our mission statement and core values.”
Kentwood was one of eight NPSL teams that dropped their district playoff games last weekend. Kentlake lost to Lake Stevens to finish 6-4; Auburn Mountainview fell to Mount Vernon 47-6; Puyallup ousted Kennedy Catholic 65-35; Todd Beamer came up short to Skyline 38-35; Union beat Enumclaw 55-37; Skyview edged Hazen 30-27; and Federal Way tumbled to Woodinville 38-0.