Tickel your fancy: A season for the ages
Unselfish. That is the first word I can think of to describe this Washington football team. A successful team that won a school-record 12 games, went to its first title game and led the state with 58 rushing touchdowns.
After every game you could hear the humility in each player’s voice. This was one unit working toward accomplishing greatness, and they did just that.
After dropping its second game of the season to Pella it rallied off 11 straight wins. The Demons had a climactic win against Solon in semifinals, proving it deserved to be at state.
Backed up against the wall down 9-7, punter/kicker Mason Quigley proved that Washington had more weapons than the casual fan would know.
Quigley, a senior, made a veteran decision by running the ball up the right sideline and converted the fourth down after a fumble recovery by senior Tanner Knupp.
That set Knupp up for a 50-yard touchdown catch that completed the comeback.
The second most impressive win in a season filled with highlights was the quarterfinal game against Pella.
The Little Dutch had recent history success including earlier in the season, but that meant little in the playoffs.
Washington pounded Pella 28-0 as it rushed for 258 yards to just 72 yards from Pella.
The drive of the season was easily Washington’s opening drive of the fourth quarter. Running the ball down the middle as it had all season, it marched down the field.
Washington was pinned third-and-16 from their own 6, when senior Alex Coker put the team on his back to put Pella away.
“He took it over,” Schrader said. “The O-line and Coker did. He decided he was going to run—give him a little bit of room. It was crunch time. He just ran like a beast.”
First, Coker converted the third down with a physical 25-yard run. Coker had another burst with a 21-yard pickup to the Dutch 48.
Coker exploded for his third gain of at least 20. He carried the ball for a the fifth time of the drive. This set up Knupp from the 9-yard line for a 21-0 lead with 9:49 remaining.
Like the norm all season, multiple backs got carries on the way to a pivotal score. These backs also praised their offensive line for opening up holes on the line.
I found it hard to find any player at any position taking credit for his accomplishment.
Instead, the Demons let their playing do the talking, and with it came offseason recognition on all-state teams and all-district honors.
On the first team all-state team was junior Tommy Peterson, senior Garrett Covington, and Coker, and on the second team was Knupp.
The all-district team was made up of Quigley, senior Craig Lillie, senior Carl Sivels, junior Daryn Sebelius and junior Tama Leutele.
Honorable mention were senior Carter Hesseltine, senior Jacob Green, senior Derek Miller, senior Brett Wright, junior Kyle Collier, junior Brad Skubal, junior Jeff Knupp, junior Thomas Bump and junior Gage Redlinger.
It might be a long time until Washington makes an appearance at state. No slight to the junior class, who will have its chance next year, but it took 17 years for the Demons to get back to the semifinals.
For now, soak it in, Washington; this is the best team the town has seen in more than a decade.
Let’s not forget about the Washington boss, Randy Schrader, who had two milestones this year, in just his fourth season at Washington. He earned win No. 100 and reached his first championship game.
The best part about the makeup of this team—it was built to spread the wealth. It was truly a blue-collar squad.
Years — or shall I say teams — like these don’t come around often.