Prep football: Lynnwood coach praises team for tenacity during losing season

Lynnwood’s Zak Hill juggles the ball but maintains possession despite being leg-tackled by Mariner’s Tristan Lolohea during the Royals-Marauders game played Friday at Edmonds Stadium.

It’s been a season of woe for the Lynnwood Royals this year, going winless in their first nine games and being outscored 375-53 in those contests. On Friday, the team had one last chance to prove their mettle in their season finale, hosting the Mariner Marauders at Edmonds Stadium. And although the Royals came up short on the scoreboard once again, the team and the coaching staff concluded the year feeling pretty good about themselves and their future.

Lynnwood crawled back from a 24-0 deficit early in the third quarter and made a game out of it on Friday, but the Marauders had just enough to hold on and pick up the 24-21 victory over the Royals.

First-year Lynnwood coach David Harris (right) reacts with senior Chandler Olds after a key late-game defensive stop during the game.

“They came out, they really fought,” Lynnwood Coach David Harris said of his squad’s second-half effort. “They got to really see that they can grind to the end and still have something to show for it.”

After taking a 17-0 lead into halftime, Mariner struck big on the second half’s first play from scrimmage. Sophomore LJ Moody took the pistol snap from center and looked to pass but then scampered 64 yards for a Marauder touchdown. The point-after kick by Marco Martinez-Montesinos pushed the Mariner lead to 24-0 and the game seemed firmly in the hands of the visitors.

Owen Gill carries the ball for the Royals.

But the Royals responded quickly. On their first play from scrimmage in the second half, Lynnwood quarterback Zak Hill ran 83 yards to the Mariner 2-yard line; three plays later the senior muscled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard TD run, cutting the Marauder advantage to 24-7.

With Mariner unable to move the ball on its next possession, kicker Luiz Ramos punted the ball to Royals’ sophomore Abram Mireles, who raced 82 yards for a touchdown. A blocked PAT attempt left Lynnwood down by just eight points late in the third quarter.

With less than nine minutes to go in the game, the Royals caught a huge break: Mariner’s Kelvin Laulualo had apparently scored on an 8-yard fumble recovery and return, but the touchdown was nullified by two Marauder penalties, giving the ball back to Lynnwood at midfield. On the ensuing play, Hill connected with Mireles on a 50-yard TD pass and run; a successful two-point conversion pulled the Royals to within three points, 24-21, with 8:25 to go.

Lynnwood’s Mateo Phillips gets pumped up after a defensive stand late in the Royals-Marauders matchup.

But that would be as close as Lynnwood would get. The Royals started their final possession of the contest at their own 11-yard line with 3:47 to go. Two plays later, Hill attempted a pass that was intercepted by Tristan Lolohea, giving the Marauders the ball, an opportunity to run out the clock and ultimately the game victory.

The Lolohea pick was Lynnwood’s third turnover in the game after losing two first-half fumbles. The Royals’ also had a punt blocked in the first half, resulting in a Mariner touchdown by Cortlin Atkins. 

The Royals’ Sergio Navarro (right) looks for a way past the Marauders’ LJ Moody.

Lynnwood was also hurt by numerous penalties, including one that nullified a 63-yard touchdown run by Hill on the Royals’ first offensive possession of the game. Not getting that early score was painful, Harris confessed.

“We know Zak, he can make those plays happen at any time,” Harris explained. “It really hurt not to get that one. That definitely could have really changed the momentum. But we knew we could come back.”

Despite the early disappointment of seeing that Hill touchdown brought back and then Mariner scoring 24 unanswered points in a span of less than 12 minutes of the second and third, the Royals used a determined enthusiasm to stoke their second-half rally.

Lynnwood’s Matt Galang (left) punches the ball out of the arms of Marauder Datah Neang.

“I’ve got to give props to these players; they came and set that precedent themselves,” Harris said of the team’s energetic spirit. “They’ve always said that no matter what the scoreboard is they want to keep bringing the energy and to support each other. I’m really happy tonight — they got to see how infectious that can really be.”

“Even during the season when those games were getting out of control they really kept a positive attitude,” Harris added.

The Lynnwood cheer squad rallys Royals’ fans during the final game of the 2023 season.

This season was the first as head coach for Harris, who is a 2008 graduate of Lynnwood. His record as a first-year coach will go as 0-10, but that’s not what he will recall the most of this season. Instead it will be the examples set by his seniors on what he called a “sophomore-heavy” squad.

“The main thing I will remember about this senior group will be, what’s the word — definitely their tenacity but it’s going to be their grit for sticking it out,” he said. “It’s easy to come out here when you’re winning and blowing people out — it’s hard to show back up after you take some of these butt-whoopings. But they showed up every Monday, without a doubt on their mind, ready to get back and saying, hey, this is the week we’re about to get a ‘dub.’”

“So they really set that leadership for these younger guys, to model that,” he concluded. “I’m proud of the things they left behind.”

Lynnwood’s Zak Hill (left) looks to avoid Mariner’s Abram Mireles.

Prep Football: Mariner at Lynnwood, Nov. 3

Mariner   0 17   7   0 24

Lynnwood   0   0 13   8 21

Second quarter scoring:

– Monty James (Mariner) 10-yard TD run; Marco Martinez-Montesinos PAT kick good

– Cortlin Adkins (Mariner) blocked punt recovery in end zone for TD; Marco Martinex-Montesinos PAT kick good

– Luiz Ramos (Mariner) 25-yard field goal

Third quarter scoring:

– LJ Moody (Mariner) 64-yard TD run; Marco Martinez-Montesinos PAT kick good

– Zak Hill (Lynnwood) 1-yard TD run; Nedim Husic PAT kick good

– Abram Mireles (Lynnwood) 82-yard punt return TD; Nedim Husic PAT kick good

Fourth quarter scoring:

– Zak Hill (Lynnwood) 50-yard TD pass to Abram Mireles; Hill two-point conversion pass to Owen Gill good

Records: Lynnwood 0-6 in 3A Wesco League, 0-10 overall; Mariner 1-3 in 4A Wesco League, 2-8 overall

Lynnwood next game: 2023 season completed

— Story and photos by Doug Petrowski

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