The red zone is normally football’s scoring area — unless you are a member of the Woodinville High School defense.
For the Falcons, it is the stop-you-in-your-tracks zone.
And the 4A KingCo champions sure made life very difficult for quarterback Dylan Morris and the high-powered Graham-Kapowsin offense in the Class 4A quarterfinals Saturday night.
Second-ranked Woodinville advanced to the state semifinals for the first time since 2011 with a 49-17 victory over the No. 5 Eagles at Art Crate Field in Spanaway.
And the Falcons (12-0) can thank their full-service defense for helping them jump out to a commanding 21-3 lead in the first quarter.
“They are definitely fundamentally sound,” Eagles running back Villiami Hansen said. “When we were running with the ball, they were everywhere.”
Three times in the first quarter, the Eagles’ offense started a drive at midfield or in Woodinville territory — and was limited to Colin Manners’ 26-yard field goal.
Five times in the first half, Graham-Kapowsin (10-2) got inside the Falcons’ 25. It didn’t go well after that.
“We needed to put things away when we got into the (red) zone,” Eagles coach Eric Kurle said. “We didn’t do it. We didn’t finish drives. They are a good football team, and if you don’t finish drives, they are going to find ways to get you.”
After Woodinville took a 7-0 lead on Brett Acciumus’ 52-yard touchdown scamper just 1:14 into the game, the Eagles had a chance to match the score on their third series.
Morris hit a streaking Thomas Wheeler along the right seam for what should have been a 47-yard touchdown connection, except the receiver fumbled the ball without being touched.
Wheeler recovered the ball, but Graham-Kapowsin came away with no points after Manners missed a 30-yard field goal attempt at the 7:30 mark of the first quarter.
Manners did convert the field goal on the Eagles’ next series to cut it to 7-3 — after the offense stalled at the Falcons’ 9.
Woodinville kept putting the pressure on, and went up 14-3 on Jaden Sheffey’s 19-yard touchdown pass to Nash Fouch to cap a four-play, 80-yard drive late in the first quarter.
After Morris was picked off on the Eagles’ next series inside the red zone, Sheffey tallied another score, this time a 5-yard touchdown on a quarterback keeper with 31.9 seconds to go in the first quarter for a 21-3 Falcons advantage.
“Our guys, in any situation ... are always competing,” Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said. “We simulate (red zone defensive situations) during the week every day, and it prepares them for out here.”
Morris did lead the offense to a touchdown late in the first half, hitting Tre Mason III on a 7-yard strike in the left corner of the end zone to trim the Falcons’ lead to 21-10 with 3:13 remaining.
But Woodinville put this game away with two touchdowns in the first 1:13 of the second half.
The first one — an Accimus 44-yard scamper around the left end — came after Graham-Kapowsin’s Seth Olmos fumbled the opening kickoff.
Then the Falcons went to their bag of trick, pooching an onside kick in the middle of the field that was recovered by John Snedaker at the Eagles’ 26.
Three plays later, Sheffey found a wide-open Tyler Owens along the right sideline for a 35-yard score, and the Falcons were in control, 35-10.
Morris, a Washington Huskies commit, finished 19 of 35 for 247 passing yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, and was sacked five times.
He left the game with what Kurle said was a serious left ankle injury with 5:34 to go, and did not return. He stood on the sideline on crutches.
No. 2 Woodinville 49, No. 5 Graham-Kapowsin 17
W-Brett Accimus 52 run (Blake Glessner kick).
GK-FG, Colin Manners 26.
W-Nash Fouch 19 pass from Jaden Sheffey (Glessner kick).
W-Sheffey 5 run (Glessner kick).
GK-Tre Mason III 7 pass from Dylan Morris (Manners kick).
W-Accimus 44 run (Glessner kick).
W-Tyler Owens 35 pass from Sheffey (Glessner kick).
GK-Thomas Wheeler 21 pass from Morris (Manners kick).
W-Matt Jones 15 run (Glessner kick).
W-Wyatt Lane 8 run (Glessner kick).