2020-2021 Football Recap

Senior Finn Scully gives a rundown of the COVID-shortened 2021 season


Art by Molly Chapin

Before the 2020-2021 football season even began, Garfield’s Bulldogs had already been through a lot. Midway through their off-season training in August, it was suddenly announced that the season would be postponed until the Spring, leaving many players wondering if the season would happen at all.

The Bulldogs ultimately went 1-4 in the shortened 2020-2021 season, with a win over Rainier Beach in week one followed by four straight losses to Seattle Prep, Eastside Catholic, Ballard, and O’Dea. Despite their lackluster record, they still qualified for the playoffs, which were shortened to two rounds by splitting the teams into several different leagues based on performance. In the first round of the playoffs, the Bulldogs finally broke their losing streak with a decisive 48-22 victory over the Roosevelt Roughriders. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to bring back that same energy in the second round of the playoffs, and ended up losing 24-12 to Bishop Blanchet.  

Senior Finn Scully, who played wide receiver for the Bulldogs and was also a backup for several other positions, doesn’t think their 1-4 isn’t entirely reflective of their potential as a team. “We had a couple close games that we should have won but we didn’t,” Scully said. 

According to Scully, one of the biggest things that the Bulldogs struggled with in the 2020-2021 season was injuries, and a lot of it came down to lack of proper practice and exercise due to COVID restrictions. “We weren’t allowed to do a lot of practices together until later in the year,” he explained. “And we couldn’t ever be in the gym, which we were all used to.”

This put the Bulldogs at an even bigger disadvantage when they had to compete with teams that weren’t part of Seattle Public Schools and didn’t have to deal with the same COVID restrictions. “Eastside Catholic, Seattle Prep, and O’Dea are all private schools, so they don’t have the same rules as us, and they were allowed to work out in the gym since [the fall],” Scully explained. “So these guys had all been working out and doing conditioning, and we had just been sitting at home playing Call of Duty. We weren’t ready for that much physical exercise, so it led us to all these injuries.”

Another new challenge presented by the COVID restrictions was that the band couldn’t come to the games, so the Bulldogs had no one to hype them up. “We really missed the band this year,” Finn said. “We’re used to all the hoorah. That one song, ‘Android,’ that was our favorite. It brought a whole new level to the games. But this year it was just quiet. It was rough.” 

For the first three games of the season, there were no cheerleaders either, and no one was allowed in the stands, not even family members. “All of the energy [had to come] from us,” Scully said. “So if the energy was bad it was over. Cause when you’re down in a game, normally you have the cheerleaders, and you have your family behind you. You hear them encouraging you and you know it’s alright,” he continued. “But when you just have your own guys, and when your own guys are frustrated with you, it’s hard to come back from that mentally. So I think that definitely got into our heads a little bit.”

Scully thinks that this negative mindset was the biggest roadblock to the Bulldogs’ success as a team this season. “Whenever things got bad we got down on ourselves and it was just impossible to come back. That was the biggest thing that held us back,” he explained. “Eastside Catholic has an explosive offense, and in the first quarter we shut them out, we didn’t let them do anything. It was a big thing, we were super excited. And then one punt got blocked, and they brought it back for a touchdown, and then they put up 35 more points in that same quarter,” he said. “So they scored 42 points in one quarter. That’s way too much. But that one play got us down, and we just let it all happen. It was extremely frustrating.”

By the time the playoffs rolled around, the Bulldogs were coming off a four-game losing streak. Their first matchup was against Roosevelt, and by halftime, Garfield was behind by three points. “We were beating ourselves really,” Scully said. “The score was 10-7, and you’re never gonna guess how they got 10. They got two field goals and two safeties.” Garfield was missing its starting center, and the backup messed up two of the snaps, resulting in two safeties. And the lone touchdown the Bulldogs had scored had been a Pick 6, meaning their offense hadn’t put up any points. 

Going into the second half of the Roosevelt game, the Bulldogs knew they had to turn things around if they wanted to win the game. And that’s exactly what senior running back Quinton Jordan did. “He took off,” Scully said. “He kind of took it personally that Roosevelt, a team that should never beat us, was beating us, and he scored four touchdowns in one half.” But it isn’t just Jordan that deserves credit for Garfield’s comeback in the game against Roosevelt. “Our linemen also really stepped up in the second half,” Scully added. “The linemen coach said to them, ‘You should be taking this personally because these guys are not better than you,’ and they really stepped it up. I was really proud of my guys.”

The Bulldogs finished the game 48-22 and went on to face Bishop Blanchet in the second round of the playoffs. “With Bishop Blanchet, it was sort of a similar situation but we just didn’t dig ourselves out of the hole,” Finn said. “The final score was 24-12, but we could have won. We were up 7-0 at the start, we had momentum, we just didn’t keep it. It sucked, man. I knew it was my last game [too] because I don’t really plan on playing football in college.” 

Scully is going to the University of Hawaii this fall, but he doesn’t anticipate that he’ll end up playing football for them. “I’m thinking about walking on, but that’s a whole ordeal, and they have a really good football program,” Scully explained. And though his football career didn’t exactly end on a high note, he’s just glad that he got to play at all this year. “I thought I was gonna do all this work and then the season was gonna be canceled. That’s what I dreaded every day.  I’m just very thankful we got those seven games, and I got [a chance] to play as best I could.”

But for many of the other seniors, the 2020-2021 season might not be the end of the road. Slot receiver Leon Neal Jr. and tackle Jabez Taualo have already committed to Washington State University and the University of North Dakota respectively. Eugene Brown III, also a slot receiver, is currently undecided, but has an offer from Ottawa University in Arizona as well as a preferred walk-on offer from Boise State University. Linebacker Darryl Beauregard-Coaxum is attending San Diego State University and is planning on walking on. 

Cornerback Amdane Aboudou, defensive end Marvion “Marv” Dinish, and cornerback/wide receiver Angus Vlasaty all plan on playing in college as well, but are currently undecided. Finally, running back Quinton Richardson and linebacker Denali “Dee Dukes” Dukes are returning to Garfield for a 5th year in hopes of receiving D1 offers, and Scully is confident that both of them should be able to get one come 2022. “Quentin was this close to getting that D1 offer and it didn’t work out because of factors beyond his control,” Scully explained. “So he’s coming back, he’s hoping for PAC-12, and he could definitely get there, he has the skill for it,” he said. “[And] Denali is a really good linebacker, he should be getting that D1 offer [too].”

Even though the Bulldogs didn’t quite live up to expectations this season, Scully is optimistic about the future of the Garfield football program. “It’s gonna be a great team,” Scully said. “They’ve got [Denali and Quentin] coming back, and they’ve got a lot of young guys that just needed some experience, and that’s what they got this year. The young freshman quarterback, soon to be sophomore, EJ Caminong, is a force to be reckoned with. He’s got unnatural arm talent for how old he is.” According to Scully, EJ can throw the ball 70 yards, a feat that some NFL quarterbacks aren’t even capable of. 

Fortunately, EJ isn’t in it alone. In fact, he’s surrounded by some elite talent that has nowhere to go but up. “There’s the wide receiver Rowley Canale, he’s gonna be D1. He’s 6’5 and he’s fast. He just needed a little more experience and he got that too,” Scully said. “Jacolby [Cochran] is also coming back, and he’s a force to be reckoned with [as well]. He makes plays happen out of nothing.”

But it’s not just the talented QB and star receivers that Scully has his eye on. “The biggest thing, honestly, is that there were a lot of young linemen this year,” Scully said. “Half of our starting line was freshmen. They got some valuable experience, and they’re gonna come back next year and they’ll be an all first-team all Metro line.” Only time will tell if the Bulldogs can learn from their losses this year and come back stronger next year, but Scully says he’s looking forward to watching them from his dorm in Honolulu.