Adam Weissenfels picked off the pass, turned and slid down onto the Tacoma Dome turf before turning onto his stomach. He remained there on the 35 yard line, faceguard onto the turf, soaking in the moment for a few extra seconds with the raucous Richland crowd cheering behind him.
One year ago he and the rest of the Richland High School football team walked off this field in heartbreak with Camas winning the 4A state title with a similar late interception.
Not this time.
“I felt this weight come off my shoulders,” Weissenfels said. “Getting that last interception and saying we did it was just huge. That’s a super feeling.”
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It was the all-state defensive back’s third pick of the game and it emphatically halted Woodinville’s last-ditch drive to try to complete a crazy comeback.
So the top-ranked Bombers completed a 14-0 season with a 28-21 win over the second-ranked Falcons on Saturday for their first state title since 1999 and third in school history.
“It feels amazing,” Richland quarterback Cade Jensen said. “I don’t think there’s anything like winning a high school state championship. It’s amazing.”
But it took some dramatics.
In a game headlined by dominant defenses, Richland led 28-0 at halftime.
But Woodinville slowly chipped away. It pulled all the stops, getting a 38-yard TD on a double pass from quarterback Jaden Sheffey to Noah Stifle to Tyler Owens with 11:52 to play, before pulling to within a score when Sheffey scrambled for a nine-yard TD with 3:26 remaining. And that came after Woodinville had shot itself in the foot with a fumble in Richland territory and Weissenfel’s third-and-goal interception.
Woodinville used all its timeouts and forced a fourth-and-2 near midfield before Richland punted and the Falcons began their final drive at their 20 with 2:11 left.
But Sheffey threw a desperation pass on fourth-and-11 and Weissenfells was there. His third pick tied the 4A state championship record previously set by Central Valley’s Justin Folkins in 1997 for most interceptions in a game. Weissenfels ended his season with nine interceptions and he
“He’s been doing that all year,” Richland coach Mike Neidhold said.
“Adam was in that game last year our kids understood the heartbreak of two seasons – Gonzaga Prep (the 2015 champion) two years ago and in this building last year by Camas. They had some unfinished business at the start of the year. Never talked about it. Never once spoke about it and didn’t have to because they were pretty determined to come back here and have this kind of ending.”
Woodinville turned it over six times in the game after having no turnovers in last week’s 10-0 semifinal win over Sumner.
But for all the talk of Woodinville’s “Dark Side” defense, Weissenfels said he felt Richland’s dominant D had something prove.
“I don’t think we get as much credit as we deserve,” the Mid-Columbia Conference’s defensive player of the year said. “Now we’re the champs, best team in Washington football and we deserve everything we’ve put in the past four years.”
Richland was bombs away in the first half.
Weissenfels got the first score of the game late in the first quarter on a nine-yard TD pass from Jensen – after intercepting a pass on Woodinville’s opening drive. Weissenfels also
Richland then responded to a Woodinville three-and-out with Jensen lofting a 42-yard pass to Cody Sanderson before a three-yard TD run from Jared Whitby to make it 14-0. Whitby almost made it 21-0 on a first-and-goal Tim Tebow jump pass, but it was intercepted in the end zone by Woodinville’s Nash Fouch, a Montana commit.
Because a Woodinville three-and-out led to Parker McCary’s 17-yard TD run, then the Falcons fumbled on their next drive and Jensen found Sammy Cervantes for a 15-yard score to make it 28-0, Bombers heading into halftime.
“Our kids love to play for each other, they love to play football for Richland and they have no quit,” Neidhold said. “There’s no bottom to how hard they try or how hard they work. We asked our defense to love each other and take a chance at believing what we’re doing and they said they might as well.”
Weissenfels said the feeling of that 24-14 loss to Camas here last season, hit him Friday night, watching O’Dea – another Tacoma Dome redemption team, winning the title a year after losing it – playing in the 3A championship.
“We came to watch the 3A game and it didn’t really hit me until we walked back in there,” Weissenfels said. “But as soon as we got in here today the emotions went away. We said, ‘We’re here to win a stae championship. We’re not worried about the fans or the press or anything like that – we’re focused on winning a football game and that’s what we did.”
Neidhold said he saw his own team when he looked across the field at Woodinville’s, which was 13-0 before Saturday’s loss.
“I saw us over there when I saw those guys. I mean that as a huge compliment to Woodinville and their program,” Neidhold said. “It will be their turn.”
Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell said the same about Richland after both teams packed the Tacoma Dome stands.
“I thought it was high school football at its purest,” Maxwell said. “You had two classy programs coming together, community programs, kids who live in our community, play for the school. You saw that on both sides. It’s just what high school football should be.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
No. 1 RICHLAND
No. 2 WOODINVILLE
R - A. Weissenfels 9 yd pass from Cade Jensen (A. Weissenfels kick), 7-32 2:46, RHS 7 - WHS 0
R - Jared Whitby 3 yd run (A. Weissenfels kick), 7-75 1:42, RHS 14 - WHS 0
R- Parker McCary 17 yd run (A. Weissenfels kick), 4-35 1:09, RHS 21 - WHS 0
R- Sammy Cervantes 15 yd pass from Cade Jensen (A. Weissenfels kick), 3-17 0:39, RHS 28 - WHS 0
W – Brett Accimus 1 yd run (Blake Gessner kick), 10-60 3:44, RHS 28 - WHS 7
W – Tyler Owens 38 yd pass from Noah Stifle (Blake Gessner kick), 6-82 1:40, RHS 28 - WHS 14
W – Jaden Sheffey 9 yd run (Blake Gessner kick), 4-29 1:01, RHS 28 - WHS 21
RUSHING: Richland-Parker McCary 28-116; Jared Whitby 7-10; Cade Jensen 6-(-22); Josh Mendoza 1-(-36). Woodinville-Jaden Sheffey 22-115; Brett Accimus 10-25; Matt Jones 6-15; Nash Fouch 1-10; Wyatt Lane 1-0.
PASSING: Richland-Cade Jensen 13-23-0-182; Jared Whitby 0-1-1-0. Woodinville-Jaden Sheffey 10-24-3-81; Noah Stifle 1-1-0-38.
RECEIVING: Richland-Sammy Cervantes 3-64; Josh Mendoza 3-36; Cody Sanderson 2-55; A. Weissenfels 2-3; Ryan Piper 1-16; C. Matheson 1-4; Parker McCary 1-4. Woodinville-Nash Fouch 4-12; Tyler Owens 3-65; Noah Stifle 2-15; Brett Accimus 1-22; Wyatt Lane 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Richland-A. Weissenfels 3-15. Woodinville-Nash Fouch 1-0.
FUMBLES: Richland-Cade Jensen 3-0; Josh Mendoza 1-0. Woodinville-Jaden Sheffey 2-1; Brett Accimus 2-2; Nolan Downs 1-0.