Mount Si stifles state champs

The Mount Si football team moved one step closer to a postseason appearance after defeating last year's Kingco 4A state champion Skyline Spartans last week 31-13.

Mount Si racked up 243 yards of offense, 149 on the ground and 94 in the air to Skyline's 221; 45 on the ground and 176 in the air. The difference in the game was an all-around solid performance on both sides of the ball.

The Wildcats took the opening kick off and marched down the field, scoring on a 1-yard run by Brandon Yakaboski. Gibson Bardsley added the extra point to a drive that knocked over seven minutes off the clock. Runs by Marshall Griffin and a keeper by quarterback Ian Atkinson kept the drive alive even on a fourth down at the Skyline 45-yard line.

Key to the success of the strong running game was a re-engergized offensive front that opened holes for consistent 4- and 5-yard gains by Yakaboski.

On the Wildcats next possession, coach Charlie Kinnune pulled out another weapon in the Mount Si arsenal when Yakaboski took the pitch on what looked to be an end sweep and threw a spiral to the waiting hands of receiver Sean Bothell for another touchdown. Bardsley added the extra point to stun the Spartan home-field crowd and give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead with 15 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Wildcat defense was equally impressive and up to the task. Dexter Moetului and Carey Purchase, up front, worked both defensive end positions to pressure Skyline quarterback Tony Rehn into several quick throws that missed their marks. The Spartans had a glimmer of hope midway through the second quarter when an Atkinson pass was picked off in Mount Si territory. Fortunately for the Wildcats, Daniel Reeves picked off a Skyline pass to thwart the Spartans' drive. The running game wasn't very successful for the Spartans either, as the Wildcat secondary, including Mikel Ushler, Josh Lindor, Kenny Morrison and Mac Donnell, were quick to swarm the rusher.

In the second half the Wildcats continued to dominate. Yakaboski picked off a Rehn pass and ran it back for a touchdown, but the score was called back on a holding call by Mount Si. Mount Si kept the ball, though, and marched to within field-goal range where Bardsley added more to the scoreboard to give the Wildcats a 17-0 lead.

Midway through the third quarter, Rehn was picked off again, this time by Bothell who leapt over two feet in the air to snag a pass. He then followed up the interception with a leaping catch in the corner of the end zone over a Skyline defender to give Mount Si a 24-0 lead. Bothell added one more score to his totals with a 32-yard pass reception from Atkinson. Bardsley added the extra point to cap the Wildcat scoring at 31.

Mount Si continued to pressure the Spartan offense. Midway through the fourth quarter, Purchase flattened Skyline's Rehn. The Spartan quarterback lay on the turf for several minutes before walking to the sideline assisted. He did not return to the game.

Both teams began mixing in junior-varsity players in the fourth quarter, which gave the Spartans a chance to score two quick touchdowns with less than three minutes to play.

Kinnune was ecstatic after defeating a team he had not beaten since 1998.

"We just have so much respect for that Skyline program and we want to win right when we do meet them," said Kinnune.

"Skyline has a really good defense and we got off the ball," said Kinnune. "We are playing with a lot of confidence right now."

Kinnune also had praise for his players and coaches. "Ian [Atkinson] had a great game. We have to have a diverse offense in this league and Ian did that tonight. We knew we had to throw the ball and we did," he added.

"We had a great game plan by coach Lewis, which threw off their offense," touted Kinnune. "Dexter [Moetului] had a monstrous game and rushed their quarterback. With the secondary coverage, it was tough for them to do anything."

Yakaboski also had high praise for his team. "We got into some people in the secondary and that helped," Yakaboski said of his offensive line. "We showed them that work ethic and desire can give us a win," he added.

Mount Si plays Issaquah at home this Friday with game time at 7:30 p.m.

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