The Kentwood Conquerors are looking to do something that they haven’t done since the end of the 2002 football season, win the state title. 2002 was the second of back-to-back 4A state titles won by the Conquerors at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, WA. Since then, Kentwood has struggled to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The 2015 season brought in a new era at Kentwood. After 11 seasons, Kentwood would have a new coach at the helm after Rex Norris decided to step away from the program. Kentwood went out and got Mike Bush.
Bush played his high school football at rival Kent-Meridian his senior year during the 1997-1998 school year. He went on to be a standout at Washington State University where he earned all PAC-10 honors in basketball and football. Prior to coming to Kentwood, Bush spent seven seasons as an assistant coach, the last four at Bothell High School.
The 2015 season did not start off well for the Conks as they blew a 24-7 lead against Curtis High School and lost 35-24. It didn’t seem like there was a lot of chemistry with the team even though these players had been playing together for years. The next week, Kentwood had another hard fought battle and was able to come out on top against Emerald Ridge 42-32. In week three, Kentwood was able to hold off Thomas Jefferson and win a nail bitter, 17-16.
Their game against rival Kentridge in week four looked like it had finally all come together for Coach Bush and the Conks. After a close first quarter against the Chargers, Kentwood blew the doors off their crosstown rival 62-24. Kentwood could have scored more, but Coach Bush rested his starters for the entire fourth quarter.
Week five was yet another show down with a rival in the Tahoma Bears. This had all the makings of a great game as Tahoma entered the game undefeated with an offense that was averaging just over 40 points a game and a defense giving up just under 14 points a game. Kentwood would have none of it and steam rolled the Bears 55-30. They were led on the ground by Chavez Kalua-Fuimaono. Take a look at his highlights from that game.
In week six, the Conks faced a tough team in the Federal Way Eagles and barely came out on top with a 16-13 win. Week seven saw Coach Bush face his former high school in the Kent-Meridian Royals. The Conks walked away with a 28-7 victory and clinched the SPSL North League Championship for the fourth straight year, fifth in last six year and 18th time overall in their 35 years.
Their last regular season game of the year would be against the Kentlake Falcons, another rival. Kentwood entered this game on a six game winning streak and Kentlake entered fighting for their playoff lives. Kentlake stunned the Conks with a 36-21 defeat over their rivals and squeezed themselves into the playoffs. Kentwood were clearly stunned with how Kentlake came out and virtually outplayed them in all three phases of the game, special teams, offense and defense.
In an SPSL crossover game to determine seeding, Kentwood squared off against Todd Beamer at home for the second straight season. It wasn’t the prettiest games you’ll ever watch, but Kentwood came out on top 14-0 and earned the right to host the district playoff game. If Kentwood (7-2) wins this game against Woodinville (5-4), they will play in the first round of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) 4A playoffs, something that they haven’t done since the 2010 football season.
It won’t be easy, but Kentwood has the players to make a deep run this postseason. This group of seniors has played a lot of games together and seems to finally understand Coach Bush’s offense. In years past, Kentwood would lineup and run the ball down your throat and stifle your team with great defense. Now Kentwood can throw the ball as well as run the ball and still play good defense. It’s very important for this team to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead.
It’s been far too long since Kentwood has Conquered 4A football in Washington State.