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'Cats win on back
ISSAQUAH - Most players would be happy with one touchdown in a game. Some would be ecstatic to get two, but last Thursday, against Mercer Island, Adam Rothgeb recorded four touchdowns as well as a fifth that was called back due to a penalty.
"When I went home I broke down crying. I couldn't have drempt for a better game than my last one," said Rothgeb.
It was obvious from the start that nothing was going to get in the way of a Wildcat win for the senior running back.
"It was the realization that it was my last game and I had to give it my all, one to remember," he added.
The Wildcats, after suffering six losses in a row, trailed the Islanders for only part of the first quarter. In the end, Mount Si tacked on a 28-14 win to get one more win for the season over last year.
"This is a blue collar team, lunchpale and hardhat in hand," said head coach Charlie Kinnune. "I can count on one hand how many poor practices they had. Not many coaches can say that about a team that went through a six-game losing streak."
In the early stages of the game with Ian Atkinson at quarterback, it looked as though Mount Si may have lost some momentum as a four and out possession and subsequent punt set up an Islander score. The Cody Hyatt punt was blocked by the Islanders, giving them the ball at the Mount Si 15. From there, a reverse got the Islanders to the five where Alex Holland scampered in for the score. The extra point was good and Mercer Island led 7-0, but it would be their only lead of the night.
On the very next play Rothgeb not only hauled in the kickoff, but rambled 90 yards for the touchdown. The Wildcats' Chris Brown added the extra point to tie the Islanders at 7 points each.
The Wildcat defense with Eric McCammon, Rothgeb and Kyle Meuli, held the Islanders to a punting situation on fourth down. On the punt, Mercer Island went for the fake, getting the first down but it was called back due to a holding call. Mount Si had another possession as did the Islanders but at the end of the first quarter, the score was still 7-7.
Another high point of the night was the punting by Cody Hyatt. The first rolled down to the two-yard line where Mercer Island took over. Three plays later Mount Si recovered a fumble at the Islander 18 to set up the next score. Atkinson handed the ball off and again it was Rothgeb who blew through the Islander secondary, weaving between defenders and scampering into the endzone for the score. Brown added the extra point and Mount Si led 14-7.
The Islanders tried desperately to tie the score before the half but without any luck. Both teams headed to the locker room with the Wildcats preserving their 14-7 lead.
In the second half the locker room coaching must have inspired the Islander players as Morgan Anthony scored a touchdown on a 38-yard run. The extra point was good and the game was again tied, 14-14.
Rollin Smith took over the QB duties for Mount Si in the second half as Brian Olson carried the ball for Mount Si. An attempted halfback pass from Rothgeb to Meuli fell incomplete but on the next play, Meuli hauled in another to move into Islander territory. The pass to Zach Bowen moved the Wildcats to the Islander 32. From there it was all Rothgeb as he again made the Islander secondary look sluggish. Rothgeb weaved his way for a first down, then the touchdown from 18 yards out. Brown added the extra point and Mount Si lead 21-14 with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcat defense quickly shut down the Islanders' inside running game, forcing them outside for shorter yardage. The Islanders had another chance to score late in the third quarter after a Wildcat player touched a punt deep in their own territory. The error gave the Islanders the ball at the Mount Si 20 at the end of the third quarter, looking to tie the game. Rothgeb once again came through, blocking the field goal attempt on fourth down.
Smith went to the air after the Wildcats took over on the 20, finding Tyler Littlejohn at tight end, for the reception. Littlejohn lumbered to mid field. The Wildcats were forced to punt and Hyatt's kick rolled to the Islander 1-foot line. Several plays later, and with a gain of only five yards, the Islanders punted. Rothgeb picked up the punt and rambled all the way to the endzone. But the touchdown play was called back due to a block in the back. The Wildcats had the ball however, in Islander territory.
Penalties plagued the Wildcats first two plays but on third and 18, Rothgeb picked his way to the endzone again. Brown added the extra point and Mount Si led 28-14. The Islanders tried to get another score but a great interception by Eric Alexander sealed the score and win for Mount Si.
"It's a great win for us, great way to end the season," said Kinnune. "We did one game better than last year. For these players to go six games losing streak and their attitude is a tribute to them and their families. The way they came to work every day."
The last game for Mount Si capped a season of ups and downs. In preseason the team looked strong and enjoyed three wins. The league opener against Sammamish should have been a win and there were only two games that Mount Si was really beaten, Bellevue and Newport. The rest could have just as easily been wins as well. But the team will be returning a huge group of juniors as seniors next year and most will have an entire season of varsity experience. As always, the Wildcats were a fun team to watch and should be even more exciting next season.