Cage "The Green Hornet" Schenck (Photo by Dale Garvey)
Funny, I was thinking, how my first impression of Cage Schenck was so wrong. Back in 2017, he was a sophomore playing his first season of varsity football for the Woodinville Falcons. After a game, I was doing my interviews. I sought him out in the back of the locker room. He avoided eye contact and gave a series of awkward responses that bordered on grunts. I struggled in vain to extract more detail from my questions. Finally, I thanked him and walked away.
"Poor kid," I thought. "He can barely function socially. Maybe sports are his outlet to express himself?"
There was no question that my take was correct. After all, I possess a keen insight into the human condition. But soon after I was talking with his mom, Christy. I had covered the basketball teams of two of her daughters, Rachel and Regan. I mentioned to her the interview with her son. "We'll talk with Cage about being a bit more chatty", she said. "He definitely has the gift of gab! But doesn’t seem very relaxed when interviewed. He’ll loosen up a bit as he gets to know you better."
Now as I sit here over two years later, I'm chuckling. Cage definitely had the gift of gab. And he went on to become the most dynamic player I've ever seen in my years of covering Woodinville football. He was a Seattle Times All-State defensive back, and a first team WR/DB/returner in Kingco 4A. He also earned first team Kingco 4A status as a point guard on the Falcon basketball team.
He's arguably the best pure athlete in Woodinville High School history. He runs with blazing speed and quickness. He goes skyward with his leaping ability. He’s got great instincts and the ability to juke opponents out of their cleats. He’s also immensely strong and tough, despite his smaller size.
Recently, Schenck capped his prep career by signing a letter-of-intent to play for the Eastern Washington Eagles.
“He is certainly one of the most dynamic football players I’ve ever watched on film with the ball in his hands," Eastern Washington head coach Aaron Best said. "He has intangibles that you just can’t teach, and that was evident on film."
Schenck is supremely confident and competitive. In his sophomore season of 2017, teams kept throwing at him. They thought that his 5'8" stature made him vulnerable. Problem was, Schenck could battle for position and out-leap everybody else. In the playoffs, quarterback Dylan Morris of Graham-Kapowsin kept challenging him. Morris got burned when Schenck went horizontally airborne to make a sensational interception.
In the State Championship game that year, Richland kept throwing bombs up the left sideline, challenging Schenck. Over-and-over, he went high and knocked the ball away.
In 2018, Schenck's junior year, teams still hadn't caught on to how dangerous he was. I remember one night at Redmond. Before kickoff, I was talking with Woodinville assistant coach Steve Armstrong. "I've got this idea for a nickname for Cage," I said. "I'd like to call him The Green Hornet. But I just can't give him the nickname if he doesn't stand out. It'll feel forced. He's got to score a couple TDs, return a punt for a score, maybe get an interception."
As the game got underway, Schenck owned the field. He caught an over-the-shoulder 25-yard touchdown pass. Coach Armstrong turned toward me with his index finger held aloft. "That's one!" he shouted
Soon after, while playing defense, Schenck made a great move on a pass and picked it off. Teammates quickly mobbed him. Armstrong turned toward me with his hand making the peace sign. "That's two!"he shouted.
Right before halftime, Schenck dropped back into punt return mode. He fielded the kick near midfield and began navigating through defenders. He suddenly sprinted right and beat three tacklers to the sideline. From there, he accelerated up the field, putting a little shake-and-bake move on another defender, before skittering through traffic toward the middle of the field, and breaking clear for an easy stroll into the end zone. Woodinville now led 30-0.
Armstrong held up three fingers and gleefully shouted "That's three!"
"I think I've got myself a headline!" I said.
And the next week's headline in The Woodinville Weekly read "The Green Hornet Stings Redmond as Falcons Win Big".
The Falcons finished the 2018 season one game short of reaching the State Championship game.
Entering 2019, it was clear that Woodinville coach Wayne Maxwell (a rather stoic man) was enjoying this nickname stuff. Every time I inquired about his star player, Maxwell referred to him as The Green Hornet. One night after another big-time performance, I stood with the coach on the field doing our interview.
"It was the Green Hornet doing Green Hornet things," Maxwell said, as his face gave way to an unfettered grin.
Woodinville went on to reach the State semifinals for the third year in a row. The Falcons finished with an 11-2 record. Soon after, I spoke with Falcon quarterback Noah Stifle about Schenck's leadership.
"Obviously Cage is the biggest competitor I know, definitely a bigger competitor than me," Stifle said. "I appreciate his loyalty, and his ability to simplify things to make them easier for you. He’ll make things harder on himself in order to make things easier for you. And that’s something you have to respect."
Last week, Schenck talked about his recruiting trip to Cheney, WA , the home of Eastern Washington University.
"I went on my visit and I really liked the coaches and players and the family aspect of that," Schenck said. "It made my decision really easy.
"All the coaches are super personable," he added. "They came to my basketball games and sat with my parents... It felt like it was a family environment. They told me that I'll be playing corner and nickel, and returning punts and kickoffs. They also said maybe some jet sweeps later in my career."
Schenck said that Eastern is looking to schedule another game against the Washington Huskies in Husky Stadium.
"They're trying to get a game at U-Dub every four years, so the Washington kids can play there," he said. "[Dropping back to return a punt there] would be awesome. My family would be there to see that."
Woodinville's lethal weapon now belongs to Eastern. Maybe some enterprising sportswriter in Spokane will come up with a new moniker. Maybe something like The Red Wasp.