Once a power in the state of Washington, the Kent-Meridian Royals are showing flashes of what once was.
Home of past legends such as Red Badgro, Robin Earl, Jeff Jaeger, John Bronson and Reggie Jones, it’s been a cold spell of late for the Kent-Meridian program. However, change appears to be fast approaching following a 37-9 victory over the Kentlake Falcons that raised the Royals’ record to 3-1.
“It’s big. It confirms to our kids they are who they worked to be,” Kent-Meridian coach Brett Allen said. “It’s kind of a benchmark. I’ve said this before. No one can circle us as an automatic win anymore. The kids believe that. In this last year, now they’ve decided they’ll not only not be the guys who get circled for the win, but they want to go out and take wins from other people.”
All the early-season success this year is a new feeling for the Kent-Meridian program. Known as a football team that has struggled to stay competitive for the entire lives of its current players, the program is finally getting the opportunity to create a new identity and give those players a chance to rewrite a reputation.
“At 3-1, I don’t know that they do,” Allen said of his players understanding the significance of their start. “They know the history, but they’re so tired of hearing about it, that they’ve been terrible for so long. But they’re ready to move on. In a way, I am not going to really remind them. We’re going to stay grounded because this is how we got here — humbling ourselves.”
A big part of the resurgence is sophomore quarterback Ben Woods. Playing with a composure that belies his age, Woods threw for 255 yards on 16 of 21 passing and tossed three touchdown passes.
For Allen, he can’t say enough about his young signal-caller.
“He’s mature beyond his years,” Allen said of Woods. “I had him in class as a freshman last year, so I saw a little spark in him, and you saw it in baseball — he was an all-league kid as a freshman (at) catcher.
“He is just a real cerebral guy. The one thing I love about him is he relishes his role as a point guard in our offense. He knows he has athletes to distribute the ball to.”
Junior Shamar Malik Woolery added 132 rushing yards on 19 attempts while finding the end zone twice in a first quarter that set the tone for the Royals.
Kent-Meridian’s defense stifled the Falcons all night, keeping them off the board until the fourth quarter while the Royals’ offense built a 30-point advantage. Marc Dennis hauled in both of Woods’ scoring passes, from 27 and 24 yards out.
Kentlake, which dropped to 2-2, was led by junior quarterback Trey Helgeson, who rushed 20 times for 81 yards and added 82 yards passing.