The Kangaroos have won four consecutive games, including a 17-0 win over the Thunderbirds in the Class 3A state preliminary round.
It took more than half the season and a players-only meeting to get the Lake Washington football team its first win.
The Kangaroos haven’t lost since.
After a close 7-0 loss to undefeated Bellevue preceded a tough defeat against Liberty on Oct. 5, Lake Washington has been rolling. The Kangaroos got their fourth consecutive win Friday night with a 17-0 victory over Shorewood in a Class 3A state preliminary round game at Shoreline Stadium.
The win sends Lake Washington to state for the first time since 2003 and for just the third time in the program’s history.
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“We always had the parts; we just had to put them together,” Lake Washington running back James Gardner said. “That Bellevue game, it really just clicked. We were able to just work together. We really showed them that we meant business, and we’ve been showing them that the rest of the season.”
Gardner led the way for Lake Washington (4-6) with 32 carries for 102 yards. The 6-foot-1 junior had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in a two-minute span in the second quarter to provide all the offense the Kangaroos needed.
Kicker Joey Ryan added a 29-yard field goal late in the third quarter for the game’s final points.
“James is our workhorse,” LW coach Andy Arena said. “We had some lineman that were banged up and out and he just kept rolling. He runs hard. … Everything kind of revolves around him.”
The Kangaroos’ defense also looked ready for the state tournament. Lake Washington shut out a Shorewood offense that came into the game averaging 29 points per contest. Shorewood quarterback David Snell was sacked seven times — two the result of high snaps. The Kangaroos kept Snell from completing a pass until there was 4:20 let in the third quarter.
“Shorewood’s a good team. Our defense has just (stepped up) the whole year,” Gardner said. “Even from the beginning when we weren’t winning, our defense was always a solid part of our team.”
Robert Banks had 12 carries for 35 yards and Snell finished 10 of 21 for 64 yards for a Shorewood (5-5) team that has struggled in recent years and played in its first playoff game since 2004.
“It’s a big deal for our kids to make it this far,” Shorewood coach Brandon Torrey said. “(Our kids have) never been here before. … We just came up a little short.”
Lake Washington learns its next opponent after the state tournament committee meets Sunday morning.
“It’s something I’ve never experienced before,” Arena said. “Our kids stayed strong the whole time. Even when we were 0-6 there was that feeling like, ‘We’re going to get over that hump.’ They knew they could do it. It was just a matter of getting that first win and that confidence. After that it kind of just rolled.”