By Curtis Crabtree
Bothell – The Bethel Braves ran into a buzzsaw Saturday night in the form of Alec Schwend and the second-ranked Woodinville Falcons.
The cold and misty conditions at Pop Keeney Stadium kept Woodinville’s passing game in check, but Bethel (8-3) couldn’t find a way to slow down Schwend.
Schwend carried the ball 18 times for 178 yards and a touchdown as Woodinville (11-0) defeated Bethel 37-7 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Bethel took a lead early in the first quarter when Justin Hordyk connected with Jordan Ramirez for a 74-yard touchdown. Ramirez got behind the Falcons’ defense and broke a handful of tackles on his way to the endzone to give Bethel a 7-3 lead.
With Woodinville holding a 10-7 lead late in the first half, Bethel held on a third deep in their end of the field to set up an apparent 27-yard field goal try from Connor Zaback. But Woodinville surpised the Braves with a fake field goal as holder Beau Vintertun ran around right end for a touchdown to give Woodinville a 17-7 lead at the break.
“It was a big play,” Bethel coach Gavin Kralik said. “It was a good call on their part. If we go down 13-7 at half, it’s a whole different deal than two scores.”
Bethel couldn’t get their running game established against a strong Woodinville defensive front. That forced Hordyk to throw to get the Bethel offense moving. After completing his first five passes, the ability to connect with his receivers became a struggle.
“Maybe the weather being cold, receivers hands were cold, I know my hands were cold,” Hordyk said. “We just weren’t executing as planned after that.”
Schwend and the rushing attack really got going in the second half as the option began to gash the Bethel defense.
Devin McKee broke free for a 48-yard touchdown late and Schwend followed with a 30-yard score of his own to push the Woodinville lead to 30-7 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We were expecting a different type of option, not the option that they were running,” Kralik said. “…We still needed to make an adjustment and get a stop there.”
Caleb Hamilton found Colter Clinch for a 2-yard touchdown for insurance late as Woodinville advances to face Union in the 4A quaerterfinals next week.