After trailing early, the Federal Way Eagles realized Friday night that repeating as 4A SPSL South champions this season might not be as easy as it was last year.
But like good teams do, the third-ranked Eagles quickly embraced the new reality and started playing like the defending champs they are.
Federal Way overcame a 15-point deficit and exploded for a 34-point second half in defeating Rogers, 62-42, at Sparks Stadium in the opener for both teams.
“Their mettle and their manhood is going to be tested this year,” Federal Way coach John Meagher said of his team. “We’re not like we were last year, where we had five Division I receivers on the field. In eight of our 11 games last year, our starters were out the second half. This team has to realize what real football is like. Last year just wasn’t realistic.”
While several stars are gone, the Eagles still have running back Chico McClatcher and play-making quarterback Keenan Curran. Curran piled up a career-high 274 yards rushing on 18 carries, and McClatcher added 102 yards on 11 carries. The duo also hooked up on a 53-yard pass-and-catch.
“It was tough because we were down 15 points early … some adversity,” Curran said. “We’ve never been down like that. We just knew we could come back if we keep executing.”
After the Rams took the early lead, Federal Way answered with three straight scores. But Rogers quarterback Grayson Madland threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Tony Winters with 26 seconds left in the half as the Rams would go on to take a 29-28 lead into the break.
“We had a lot of wide eyes,” Meagher said of the locker room atmosphere at halftime.
Then Madland hooked up with Kyler Ooley on a 71-yard touchdown on the Rams’ opening possession of the second half to push the lead to 36-28. But it was all Federal Way from there on as the Eagles scored four straight touchdowns — including Curran’s 60-yard scamper with 6:38 left in the game. The senior added another 51-yard TD run late to cap a career night.
The Eagles did score two defensive touchdowns but also looked sloppy at times, turning the ball over three times in the first half and allowing Rogers to recover a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown when all the Federal Way players needed to do was push the ball out, giving up a safety.
“We just have to clean ourselves up,” Meagher said. “We have to believe that we’re going to be able to get through this and continue to fight.”