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Stanwood takes Stilly Cup
ARLINGTON — The Eagles’ playoff hopes ended Oct. 30 with a 21-14 loss to the Spartans in one of the most highly anticipated Stilly Cups in recent memory.
While the loss didn’t end Arlington’s season, the result of this muddy battle did drop the Eagles to 3-3 in Wesco Conference play and to fourth place, sending Stanwood to a 4-2 record. The top three schools go on to play for a state berth.
“We blew a couple of chances, that’s for sure,” said Arlington coach Greg Dailer. “But I’m proud of the way we battled tonight.”
The Eagles had a chance to tie the game with just a few minutes remaining, but were unable to convert on a fourth-and-long situation just about 35 yards away from the goal line. The loss halted a tremendous comeback this season for the Eagles, who were 3-1 in their last four games.
With weather conditions favoring the run, the Spartans took advantage, running for 182 yards and two touchdowns in the first half by using a trio of halfbacks. Arlington had the ball near the goal line just a couple of times in the first half, but scored one touchdown on a 26-yard pass from Andy Smith to Riley Cobb.
A passing team, the Eagles had a hard time moving the ball while fighting swirling wind and mist, resulting in a few three-and-outs and a 21-7 halftime score.
In the second half, however, the Eagles seemed to figure out a way to score early, allowing Blake McPherson to run wild on a quarterback option play that was used five times on a 16-play drive lasting seven minutes that saw multiple double digit gains. The drive was finished off on a 5-yard run by the sophomore.
“We knew coming into tonight that they were a very aggressive defense,” Dailer said. “And we liked they way they lined up against our trips because it left a side open. Our sophomore quarterback did a great job running the ball.”
The ensuing drives by Arlington, however, did not share the same result. Meanwhile, a defense that gave up 21 points in the first half held the Spartans scoreless in the second, giving the Eagles as many chances as possible to tie the score.
“The defense really stepped up and shut them down,” Dailer said. “I couldn’t have been happier with the way they responded.”
Heading up that effort, Dailer said was Smith, who played safety on defense.
“He really made some great tackles and plays on defense. We blitzed the safeties a lot tonight and he was great for us back there or up front,” Dailer said of his starting quarterback that went 9-for-15 for 140 yards.
Just about the only positive aspect of Stanwood’s offense the second half was the ability to run out the clock with three minutes remaining, retaining the Stilly cup for another season.
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