Mount Si falls to Islanders

MERCER ISLAND - Mount Si rolled into Mercer Island stadium last Friday hoping that an 8-2 finish would get them into the playoffs. They departed the island losing 28-21 and missing a shot at the postseason as Liberty defeated Issaquah. If Mount Si had won and Issaquah had defeated Liberty, the Wildcats would have had a mini-playoff with those two teams to determine who would go to state as the second seed behind Bellevue.

The first quarter was a defensive battle as both teams struggled offensively. The Islanders moved to the 16-yard line of the Wildcats with 5:37 left in the first quarter and muffed a field goal. They recovered a Wildcat fumble near midfield, but then fumbled with a Wildcat recovery late in the first quarter.

The Islanders' running game was strong as they moved into Wildcat territory on their next possession. With 9:07 left in the second quarter, they scored from 29 yards out. With the extra point, the Islanders led 7-0.

The Wildcats, after starting on their own 32, fumbled again midway through the second quarter. Luckily, the defense held and the Wildcats began a strong offensive drive. Passes to Cory Lindberg and Kyle Meuli moved Mount Si into Islander territory. Runs by Brandon Yakaboski pushed them down field and another pass to Meuli moved them inside the 10-yard line.

Finally, with less than a minute in the half, Yakaboski pushed his way into the end zone. Gibson Bardsley added the extra point and Mount Si was tied with Mercer Island 7-7.

Unfortunately for Mount Si, the Islanders wanted another score. With time running out on the clock, from the 50-yard line, the Islanders' quarterback launched a "Hail Mary" pass into the end zone. Despite a host of Wildcats surrounding the receiver, the pass was caught and, with the extra point, the Islanders led 14-7 as the two teams headed for the locker room.

The second half started as disheartening as the first half ended. The Islanders wasted no time moving into Mount Si territory. A rare leaping catch over the head of Meuli moved the Islanders to the Wildcat 3-yard line. With 8:27 left in the third, they scored again to take a 21-7 lead.

Mount Si answered quickly with a touchdown of their own. Yakaboski busted up the middle and sprinted for the end zone with 7:35 left in the third quarter. Bardsley added the extra point and the Islanders led 21-14.

After a Greg Gebhard boot into the end zone, the Islanders started from their own 20-yard line. They moved into Mount Si territory with outside runs and a few strategically-placed passes. With 26 seconds left in the third, they scored, and with the extra point, took a 28-14 lead.

The Wildcats would have to muster everything they learned during the season to overcome a 14-point deficit with one quarter to play. All eligible players took to the field, including Levi Nelson, who, earlier in the season, had broken his collar bone. Mount Si quickly went to work, moving down into Islander territory. Yakaboski scrambled around the end and headed for the end zone, but a holding call brought back the touchdown. On fourth and 11, the Wildcat quarterback Rollin Smith threw a pass that fell to the ground. The ball turned over on downs and it looked as though the season could be over.

With less than five minutes left in the game, however, the Wildcats recovered an Islander fumble. Yakaboski added another touchdown to the scoreboard for Mount Si, but it would be the last of the 2005 season. Bardsley's extra point found its mark to cut the Islander lead to 28-21. Bardsley then attempted an onside kick that Mercer Island recovered. The clocked ticked down and the season was over.

An emotional coach Charlie Kinnune was almost speechless after the game.

"I wanted so bad to be 8-2 for these kids," said Kinnune. "We are still in the top seven or eight all-time teams."

It was obvious to many that the team came out flat in the first quarter. It was also obvious to the coach after collecting his thoughts.

"We had a poor practice on Wednesday, one of only a few this season," said Kinnune. "We had the same thing prior to the Liberty loss. Penalties and turnovers are the key to any victory or loss."

Mount Si finished the season with a record of 7-3. Bellevue and Liberty will represent Kingco in the upcoming playoffs with Bellevue a favorite to take a fifth consecutive state championship.

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