The tank was left on empty in the final stage of Hazen’s attempt of a comeback in their loss against Lake Washington, 24-19, at Renton Memorial Stadium on Sept. 22.
“(I’m) proud of my guys. We didn’t give up. We didn’t have a very good first half. It told the tale a little bit,” said Head Coach Chris Bennett.
It’s the second straight loss to the Kangs for the Hazen Highlanders. But as are most losses, there is something to be gained in defeat.
“This is a really good learning experience. We learned we have to come out the gate (ready). We can’t come out on some slow stuff. We have to come out there with passion and aggression and contact,” said senior Deschman Armour.
Hazen entered their matchup against the Lake Washington 1-2 with their one win against Lindbergh, 42-20, on Sept. 7.
The first possession for each side didn’t go the way of the Highlanders. While on offense, Hazen went three-and-out and then on the Kangs’ second play from scrimmage, they broke off a 59 yard touchdown.
But the Highlander defense locked it down after the big play early. The Kangs added just a field goal over the rest of the first half. Hazen was kept out of the endzone on offense, but defensively were able to get some points on the board.
A Lake Washington fumble on the Hazen 40-yard line found the hands of Jake Cook, who sprinted 60 yards to the endzone for the lone Highlander score of the first half.
Cook also is the quarterback for Hazen, a tall task for any player. But Cook does a great job in his coach’s eyes.
“He’s a smart enough kid to know multiple positions. Hats off to him, he’s a competitor. He never stops. We need to get guys healthy to give him a rest every now and then,” Bennett said.
Lake Washington came out of halftime with all the momentum. A five-minute drive ending in a touchdown and a Hazen fumble gave the Kangs a short field in which they scored another touchdown. With 3:59 remaining in the third quarter, Lake Washington took a 24-6 lead.
Hazen runs a unique Wing-T offense, run by Bellevue High School in its glory days. With that offensive philosophy, throwing the ball is not a mainstay in the offense to say the least. Going into the fourth quarter, the Highlanders attempted just two forward passes.
The inability to move the ball at some points in the game hamstrung the Highlanders’ ability to really take strides and keep Lake Washington’s offense off the field. But in the eyes of Highlanders wide receiver Deschman Armour, it’s all things they can control: “For some reps we weren’t doing our jobs anymore. We lost ourselves today. Lake Washington didn’t beat Hazen. Hazen beat Hazen,” Armour said.
In the fourth quarter, the Highlanders doubled their pass attempts and even scored two touchdowns through the air.
Hazen had to get going and quickly in the fourth if they wanted to stay in the ballgame. With 8:34 remaining, Cook threw a dart on fourth down to senior Vishon Antoine for a 10 yard touchdown, putting the Highlanders within two scores, 24-13.
The Highlanders elected to go for the onside kick to try and keep possession. The surprise attempt didn’t pan out how Hazen envisioned, and they gave Lake Washington a short field. The Highlanders even held Lake Washington to a fourth and five, but the Kangaroos were able to convert.
Lake Washington ended up milking over six minutes of clock on their penultimate drive of the game. However, their drive stalled inside the five-yard line, and they elected to go for it instead of kicking a field goal, and Hazen found a way to get the stop at the four-yard line.
On the very next play, Cook threw a deep ball and Deschman Armour plucked it out of the air at midfield and beat the Kangaroo defense for a 96-yard touchdown. The score jolted life into the homecoming night crowd, but it was as close as Hazen would get bringing the score to 19-24.
“I was happy and excited. I was ready to still fight for my team. Unfortunately we didn’t come out with the result we wanted,” Armour said.
On the ensuing onside kick attempt, Hazen got the look they wanted, but lady luck was on the side of the Kangaroos. The attempt hit a Kang in the face but fell right at the foot of a Lake Washington teammate, who was able to fall on top of the ball.