The No. 3 seed Woodbury had a short playoff season this year as the Royals lost 21-17 over No. 6 seed Blaine on Friday night in an opening round upset for the Class AAAAAA state tournament.
For the Royals, the loss was due to execution throughout the game, but the end to the season is a hard one to swallow for head coach Andy Hill.
"These kids worked hard for the entire game, but the execution was the main focus for the night," Hill said. "We weren't able to execute when needed because we had chances to score and take the lead."
The Bengals took the lead early in the first quarter with a longer rushing touchdown, but Woodbury was able to tie it up at 7-7 with a 31-yard rushing touchdown by Cole Smutny. The Royals scored with about seven minutes left in the second quarter, but Blaine was able to score about 20 seconds after Smutny's score.
The Bengals scored a 6-yard touchdown to take a 14-7 lead at the half. That lead extended as Blaine found the end zone with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to lead 21-7 over the Royals.
About 20 seconds after the Bengals scored, Woodbury came back in a big way with a 71-yard rushing touchdown by Charlie Wilson to cut the lead to 21-14 in favor of Blaine.
The two teams battled in the fourth quarter to keep the score the same until Devin Padelford came in and connected on a 31-yard field goal to make it a 21-17 lead for the Bengals. With about four minutes left in the game, Hill decided to kick the field goal and make it a closer game.
Hill said he thought the defense would make a stop on the next Blaine possession and this would allow the Woodbury offense to have one more try to get in the end zone with timeouts. Instead, the Bengals went charging down the field having the Royals use their timeouts until they were able to drain the clock out and win the game.
"It was a tough loss to swallow for the coaches and players, especially since this was the last game of the season," Hill said. "Many of these players had goals of reaching U.S. Bank and not getting there was hard for them."
Hill talked about the seniors and what that class meant for this program not only in 2019, but the building blocks of this program for the future.
He knew this senior class was going to be special once he saw them all on the field and ready to work for a state title. The chemistry they bring to practices and games along with building that chemistry with other players on the team is what developed the brotherhood they have today.
Hill said that these seniors will be remembered for a long time in the future because they are the first players to win not only a Metro East sub-district title, but back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. They placed the expectations and standards of what the Woodbury football program should be for the future.
The Royals will say goodbye to 25 seniors on this team, but there are plenty of juniors and sophomores that have been playing alongside these seniors and will have to step up into leadership roles for the 2020 season.
"I'm going to miss not having another week of practices with these players and these coaches," Hill said. "These seniors made 'All In' as there season saying and I think that truly describes this senior class.
"The went all in since they started playing football for Woodbury and it's translated to two district titles and a senior class that's going to be remembered and missed by many players and coaches within this program."