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Respect due: Mount Si football starters set it up, but second string guts it out under Friday lights | Photo gallery

Nick Mitchell rushes in the first quarter of the Sammamish game. He was good for 42 yards on foot, and more than 200 in the air on the night last Friday. - Seth Truscott/Staff Photo
Nick Mitchell rushes in the first quarter of the Sammamish game. He was good for 42 yards on foot, and more than 200 in the air on the night last Friday.
— image credit: Seth Truscott/Staff Photo

Hungry for a starting position in his senior season in 2014, Richard Willard got to whet his appetite last Friday.

Willard and the rest of the second string got a generous two-quarter taste of varsity action in the Mount Si football team’s October 4 home game against Sammamish. When the starters built up an unanswered 49-point lead, it was Willard, the second line and offense who held down the fort for their second time this season under Friday night lights.

“I was ready to go. I’ve been ready,” said Willard, pictured at left, who rushed for 43 yards in the fourth quarter, more than half the total ground gained by carriers in the JV-run second half. He got agonizingly close to the end zone.

“We know what Richard can do,” said head coach Charlie Kinnune. “We’ve got some pretty good kids.”

In the first quarter, Bailey Takacs rushed for 30 yards, Drew Cotto for 31. Quarterback Nick Mitchell carried the ball for 42 yards, and passed for 231.

Mitchell had two touchdowns, and Jake Smith, Jordan Chapman, Jack Nelson, Drew Cotto and Evan Johnson, who is looking fuzzy as he grows his beard with each winning week, added one apiece. In all, the starters ran that ball for 142 yards.

The Totems got some of their pride back, yet the Wildcats’ back-up line kept their opponents to 13 points.  JV lineman LeFonte Beverly thinks they earned respect that night.

“We’re mostly juniors and sophomores on that second team. I think we did pretty well,” Beverly said. “When we play a team like this, we’ve got to respect them, and learn from our mistakes on the field.”

Willard is trying hard, never stopping, always searching for the opening in the opposing line.

“It’s opening up your eyes, looking at your linemen, really encouraging them too, because that helps a lot,” he said, singling out blockers Matt Myers and Anthony Channita for praise.

“Once you see a hole, you just go straight into it.”

Kicker Sean Lowney added his second field goal of the season with three seconds left in the third quarter. Coaches brought out the first stringers to protect him.

Lowney, 17, pictured at left, is a newcomer to the Valley from California, who stayed with his aunt, Lanice Gillard, to attend spring camp. He’s been welcomed to this team with open arms.

Mentored by Wildcat football alumnus Cameron Van Winkle, Mount Si’s record-busting 2012 kicker, Lowney hopes to kick for distance and get a few 40-yard-plus field goals this season—if he gets the chance.

“A lot of these guys have become some of my best friends,” he says. He puts faith in his snapper, Caleb Mitchell, and holder, Jonathan “JoJo” Hillel.

Hillel, a junior, got double duty as the second-string quarterback on Friday. He praised Willard for his good reads and the line for a solid night.

“Nothing came through,” he said.

If he wants to start in 2014, Hillel knows the deal.

“We’ve gotta come out and work,” said Hillel. “Hopefully next year, we can come out, be first stringers and compete again.”

The Mount Si first string hustle in at the half. They let the second string do most of the work in the second half of Friday's home game.

Mount Si coaches Steve Botulinski and Charlie Kinnune show off their pink sweatbands. The whole team wore pink to support cancer awareness.

The Mount Si cheerleaders lead hundreds of mini-cheer campers at halftime.

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