BOTHELL — The Union Titans were hurting Saturday evening at Pop Keeney Stadium.
They were hurting because of the result of their Class 4A state quarterfinal football matchup against Woodinville.
But dig a little deeper than the pain, one finds pride.
“This feeling sucks right now, but what it means to be a Titan is absolutely amazing,” senior Gabe Rego said. “The kids I played with, the friends I made, the connections. It’s phenomenal. We’re a team. We’re brothers. We’re family.”
The Union football family had to say goodbye after Woodinville took a start-to-finish 21-9 victory over the Titans. The Falcons (12-0) earned a date with Skyline in next week’s semifinals.
Alec Schwend rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Woodinville offense, and the Falcons were dominant on defense for much of the contest.
Union (9-3) was held to 40 yards of offense in the first half. Yet the Titans, behind a quality defense of their own, only trailed by 14 at the half despite constantly having to defend a short field.
“We did all we could,” Union senior Brandon Brody-Heim said. “We left it on the field. I don’t have any regrets at all.”
Union coach Cale Piland agreed with that assessment.
“I’m extremely proud of our kids for battling. We were in the ball game in the fourth quarter,” Piland said. “Our kids played their guts out. That’s all you can ask of them.”
The Titans gained 31 yards and three first downs on its opening possession of the game before Woodinville got the first of six sacks to stall that drive. Union did not pick up another first down in its four other first-half series.
“Our goal is to be the hardest working team in the state, the most physical team in the state,” Woodinville defensive lineman Sawyer Whalen said. “We went out and did that. We shut them down.”
Union, which has been running with ease the past two playoff games, finished with 93 yards rushing and 147 yards of offense.
“You don’t win the KingCo (league title) by accident,” Piland said of the Falcons. “They’re a very, very good football team. They were able to make things difficult for us.”
Schwend’s 18-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter gave the Falcons the lead. Woodinville would make it 14-0 on a 5-yard pass from Brett Arrivey to Beau Vintertun in the second quarter. Woodinville started three more drives in Union territory but was unable to add any points in the half.
Union then held Woodinville to 83 yards in the second half, 247 for the game.
“I’m extremely proud of that,” said Union senior defensive lineman Cory Buendicho, who had several big tackles for the Titans. “We just wanted to leave everything on the field.”
Tanner Nelson had an interception in the end zone to stop one Woodinville drive. He also led the team in rushing, playing the running quarterback for 63 yards on eight carries.
“I’ve been honored all year to play for these great coaches, these great players,” Nelson said. “To be able to play football with all my friends, to be able to learn and have fun every day. It’s one of the best experiences. I live for this. I’m going to miss it.”
The Titans did grab some momentum on their first drive of the second half, picking up a couple first downs before Trent Cowan made a 38-yard field goal to make it 14-3.
Woodinville, however, responded with a 12-play, 58-yard, time-killing drive. Schwend found the end zone on a 5-yard run and a 21-3 lead late in the third.
Union quarterback Kaben Humphrey-Butler scored Union’s lone touchdown on a 17-yard run with 2:42 left in the game. Woodinville recovered the onside kick.
As the clock ticked down on the Union season, the Titans started exchanging hugs and handshakes on the sideline. The year was finished. The pride remained.
WOODINVILLE 21, UNION 9
Union 0 0 3 6–9
Woodinville 7 7 7 0–21
W — Alec Schwend 18 run (Conner Zaback kick)
W — Beau Vintertun 5 pass from Brett Arrivey (Zaback kick)
U — Trent Cowan 38 FG
W — Schwend 5 run (Zaback kick)
U — Kaben Humphrey-Butler 17 run (run failed)
RUSHING — Union: Tanner Nelson 8-63, Gabe Rego 8-43, Brandon Brody-Heim 6-15, Humphrey-Butler 9-(minus 28). Woodinville: Schwend 20-131, Alex Kacmarcik 4-18, Arrivey 13-27, Devin McKee 9-5, Trey Fornelius 1-0, Caleb Hamilton 1-2.
PASSING — Union: Humphrey-Butler 8-19-1-54, Rego 0-1-0-0. Woodinville: Arrivey 9-15-1-64.
RECEIVING — Union: Nelson 4-23, Rego 3-20, Cowan 1-11. Woodinville: Kyle Adkins 4-41, Kacmarcik 1-2, Vintertun 2-9 Schwend 1-6, John Villasenor 1-6.