The Chargers, who are on a seven-game winning streak, have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
An entire article about Kentridge football could be just a list of names.
Second-year coach Brett Ogata started a tradition in which his players call each other out by name for good deeds wherever and whenever they happen. So, if you’re asking senior quarterback Natano Woods the reason why the Chargers have a chance to clinch their first postseason berth since 2002, be prepared to listen to some names.
“For me, I’d like to thank my linemen first,” Woods said. “James Adams, Jacob Crumb, Connor Booth, Alex Leshnevskiy and Mitchell Iverson. A lot of people really don’t look at the line. They look at receivers and quarterbacks. But the line helps us run plays, helps me throw the ball and helps the running back get open holes. They don’t get enough credit. Their names aren’t in the paper like the other guys. But I really thank them.”
The Kentridge linemen helped shape a season where the program won the NPSL Sound Division title and has its best record since 2011. The Chargers (7-1) play Kennedy Catholic (5-3) in a league crossover game Saturday at 7 p.m. at Highline Memorial Stadium for a chance to advance to Class 4A state preliminary round.
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The linemen also helped Woods become one of the top pro-style quarterbacks in the region, named one of the top 50 players in the state for his graduating class according to 247Sports.com.
Woods has passed for 2,205 yards and 24 touchdowns to just four interceptions this season, which comes on the heels of a season that saw him break six school records.
“It all started from morning workouts,” Woods said.
Ogata had the players gather at the school before classes at 6 a.m. last winter to lift weights, run or do other conditioning drills. An average of 30 of the 41 varsity players didn’t skip a session.
“We all got to know each other,” Woods said. “Having a strong connection with the five linemen and a quarterback … it means something.”
So when Woods has a chance, he lets it be known. And it spreads throughout the team.
“Everyone likes being recognized for when they do something good,” said senior receiver Jeremy Banks, who has become one of Woods’ favorite targets, catching 49 passes for 723 yards and eight touchdowns. “When we call their name out, that just pushes them to another level. It’s all the time because it’s something you can build on.”
Ogata, a former quarterback and coach at Mercer Island, thought this season would be a step in the rebuilding process. The Chargers are progressing quicker than the coach planned.
The Kentridge players latched onto sharing praise and the seniors added urgency in wanting to have their best season as a swan song. Kentridge is on a seven-game win streak, including a 54-13 home win against Auburn where the Chargers were nearly flawless in all aspects of the game plan.
“There isn’t a play that stands out (in that game),” Banks said. “Because with every big play, there’s always nine or 10 other guys executing. When I get open, it’s because Ben Victoria, Michael Faber and Louie Albrecht, they run their routes to distract the defense, and our line gives Natano time to throw me the ball. Then I just catch it and score.”
Facing Kennedy Catholic on Saturday is the biggest challenge on the schedule. The playoff implications and Lancers’ high-powered offense aren’t a combo Kentridge has recent experience in handling.
But there’s a roster full of names who expect to band together to figure out a way to win.
“It’s been a long process here,” Ogata said. “We’ve been working on effort and our attitudes and these guys have really bought into being team first. Everyone realizes they have a role on this team and needs to do the best they can to help the team. That’s what is making this a pretty special year.”