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Garfield feels battle-tested after two early back-and-forth losses: Western Washington high school football notebook

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With the game on the line, Reggie Witherspoon put his trust in his quarterback. Garfield trailed Bellevue by a point with seven seconds left after Bulldogs' quarterback Javon Tade scored on a touchdown run. 

Witherspoon called for a two-point conversion. It failed. The Bulldogs lost, 28-27 in week three, but he’d do it all over again. 

“Here’s why,” Witherspoon said. “Bellevue is great inside the 25. The Wing-T is designed to control the clock, move the sticks. They’d been doing that all day long. I didn't want to give them the opportunity to get the ball back.”

Two tough early season losses haven’t discouraged the Garfield Bulldogs.

It’s these scenarios and early tests that have the Bulldogs sitting at 1-2 three weeks into the season — both losses coming against top-10 teams in their respective classifications — believing they are among the most battle-tested teams in the state. 

Before the Bellevue loss, Garfield dropped a high scoring back-and-forth thriller at Central Valley in Spokane, 40-39. That came after opening the 2019 season with a win over Interlake.

Every loss, particularly at this point in the season, Witherspoon sees as a learning experience. Posting a losing record in his first three games doesn’t rattle the interim head coach. Why?

“Our kids don’t like the feeling,” Witherspoon said. “They want to get back to work immediately. They got back on film. We’re teaching them to become students of the game.”

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The Bulldogs will have ample tests throughout the rest of the regular season in the 3A Metro Mountain with defending champ Eastside Catholic and O’Dea, the top two teams in the state. And they don’t bristle at the tough schedule, rather they hope to start applying the lessons they learned this Friday against Seattle Prep.

“It’s an opportunity to figure out who we are," Witherspoon said. "If we’re teaching discipline, mental toughness, hard work, all these intangibles, I expect my kids to go out and do the very thing we’re teaching them every Friday night … it’s going to prepare us for those tough games down the stretch."

Lynden cements itself as 2A contender

Lynden has experienced its share of highs as a program — namely its eight state championships, including six over the span of eight years.

Third-year head coach Blake VanDalen would like to add Friday’s win somewhere on that list. No. 6 Lynden upended No. 7 Steilacoom 56-47 in a shootout at Lynden High School last Friday, on a night highlighted by a 4th-and-14 game-sealing touchdown to Brock Heppner and running back Steven DiLorenzo’s single game school record 320 rushing yards. 

Plus, Heppner, an all-state selection as a junior, ran for a touchdown, threw a touchdown, and caught the momentous end-of-game touchdown for the Lions. 

“For me and for my experience, that would be No. 1,” VanDelen said. “I get it, it’s not the end of the season, it’s not a state championship game, but I told the boys after the game, ‘this is a moment you will remember for the rest of your lives.’ ”

It was a statement win that cemented the Lions as 2A contenders once again after making the 2A state championship game last season. And it was an especially poignant win for the team who opened week one with a loss to 1A Mount Baker. 

Olympic's Malcom Dewalt to miss season

Olympic senior standout receiver and defensive back Malcom Dewalt will likely miss the remainder of the season after an injury suffered in Friday’s 46-6 win over North Mason, according to the Kitsap Sun.

Dewalt was a nominee for Scorebook Live’s state player of the week in week two after he posted 125 receiving yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Despite his high school career likely being over, the three-star athlete (per 247 Sports) holds an offer from Howard University. 

The Trojans are 2-1 on the season and have won their last two games over Bainbridge (38-14) and North Mason after opening the season with a 41-17 loss to Central Kitsap.