Wildcats show promise despite loss

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Mount Si kicked off its regular season last Friday night by

traveling to Mercer Island to take on the Islanders. Unfortunately, and despite

a strong offensive showing, the `Cats failed to stop the impressive

ground game of the Islanders, led by Justin McCullum and David Kirtman,

and wound up on the short side of the score, 42-21.

The first quarter started in a promising fashion as Mount Si fielded

the opening kick and marched down the field for a score. The drive, led by

the running of David Cole, included talented moves by Mike Dollinter

and Dan Thompson. A quarterback keeper from two yards out by

Thompson nailed the score and with the extra point the Wildcats took the initial

lead, 7-0.

Next up for their first showing of the season was the Mount Si

defense. Marching down field to the Mount Si 24, the Islanders' drive was

derailed after a pass fell incomplete on fourth down. Mount Si also failed to

score on their next drive, forcing a punt, which the Islanders fielded at

their own 40 yard line and returned to the Mount Si 40.

From there, Mercer Island quarterback Sam Hale went to work. Using

a combination of mid-field passes and runs by McCullum, the Islanders

easily scored with 10:15 left in the second quarter. The extra point kick

was good, tying the score at seven each.

On the next drive, the Mount Si offense stalled, forcing a punt, but

the defense would step up to the challenge as Chad Mills picked off a Hale

pass on his own 20 yard line. Again the offense stalled and again the

defense would get the ball back, this time on a fumble by the Islanders deep in

Wildcat territory.

Starting from their own 24, the Wildcats launched a

well-executed drive led by the running of Cole and Dollinter. The drive was capped by

a dive up the middle by Dollinter with 2:08 left in the half. The point

after was blocked, giving the Wildcats a shaky 13-7 lead.

But, it didn't take long for Mercer Island to answer the question of

who would lead going into the locker room at halftime. Three plays

later, McCullum would stumble his way into the end zone and with the

extra point added, the Islanders led at halftime, 14-13.

They came back out with a determined look in the second half, and

it showed in their first drive. McCullum and Kirtman picked apart the

Wildcat secondary, working their way towards the end zone. A keeper by Hale

from one yard out added to the score and with the extra point, the score was

the Islanders 21, Mount Si 13.

The `Cats were quick to answer, though, as the offense - with

Jon Odom at the helm - arched the ball quickly down the field. Passes to

Thompson and running by Cole got the ball to the Islander 43. From there,

a pass by Odom to tight-end Steve Botulinski moved the ball to the

MI 20, well within scoring range.

Dollinter added his skill to the mix, getting the ball to the five yard

line where Odom lobbed a pass to 6'6" Erik Lanigan for the touchdown.

A two-point conversion by Dollinter tied up the game at 21 each with 5:26

left in the third quarter.

It looked as though Mount Si might just have the momentum to

keep it close or even pull out a win, but the same trouble that plagued the

Wildcat secondary came through again: inexperience.

With 2:32 left in the quarter, a draw play would score another

Islander touchdown, making it a 28-21 game. They would score again on a run

by Kirtman with 9:04 left in the game adding insult to injury at 35-21.

The final score would come as Kirtman again would drive up

the middle and with the extra point, would cap off the scoring with Mercer

Island on top, 42 to the Wildcats' 21.

"We had a lot of bright spots in this game," touted coach Charlie

Kinnune. "We kept the penalties down, didn't have any turnovers and I'm

pleased with our running game.

"Our passing game also improved, but we showed our youth on

defense tonight," he added. "I knew our

youth was going to come out, but not quite in the way it came out. We did not

react well to halftime so they came out in the second half and took it to

us pretty good. Those are all correctable things, and this team has a bright

future," said Kinnune.

"For Skyline we need to work on all phases of the game," the coach

said, looking ahead to next week's contest. "We need to work on our

perimeter defense. It is Skyline, and they are

all about passing, with a good running game as well."

Mount Si will take on Skyline at home this Friday in their home

opener. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

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