Mount Si's state playoff dreams end in a flash vs. Eastside Catholic | Prep Football

Mount Si quarterback Tyson Riley attempts to get away from two approaching Eastside Catholic defenders during last Friday’s playoff game against the Crusaders in Seattle. - Mark Lowry / Reporter Newspapers
Mount Si quarterback Tyson Riley attempts to get away from two approaching Eastside Catholic defenders during last Friday’s playoff game against the Crusaders in Seattle.
— image credit: Mark Lowry / Reporter Newspapers

The Mount Si Wildcats football team, like all 15 other teams in the state 3A football playoffs, had dreams of winning it all.

Throughout the season, Mount Si showed their fans and opponents why they deserved that opportunity, through the stellar play of many players including Sean Snead, Tyson Riley, Alex Hiebert, Michael Nelson and Ryan Ransavage.

Last Friday night, Nov. 14, they went to Memorial Stadium in Seattle and once again proved why they earned this chance to play for the state title. But in a series of events that will likely not ever be forgotten by many players, coaches and Wildcat fans, Mount Si saw their state title hopes come to heartbreaking end.

Spencer Esau caught a touchdown pass with 16 seconds left to go from 13 yards out, capping a desperate offensive drive for the Crusaders which came as the result of what appeared to be the game-winning score by Snead just seconds earlier. The Metro League champions, who are in their first year in their new home on the Sammamish Plateau, rallied for an amazing 13-12 victory that ended the Wildcats’ season.

“Right now, I just want to get with my kids and help them through this because this is really, really hard,” said a stunned Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune. “We’ve got guys that have put their heart and soul into this program, which is what we ask them to do.”

The game early on turned into a defensive battle. The Wildcats, however, got on the board first. Riley fired a nine-yard pass to Alex Hiebert in the end zone very late in the first quarter, and after a missed extra point, Mount Si was up 6-0. It stayed this way until nearly halftime, when the Crusaders struck. EC quarterback Zach Cuaresma threw a heave toward the end zone from about 35 yards out, and despite the Wildcat secondary’s best efforts, Crusader receiver Christian Johnson came down with the ball in the Mount Si end zone for a touchdown, and after an extra point, EC was up 7-6.

The Wildcats had a couple of good opportunities to score the go-ahead touchdown in the second half. However, both of those ended in Eastside Catholic territory, one in fact at the EC 13-yard line, after Mount Si failed to convert fourth-down attempts on the drives. The Wildcats kept working, though, and with 58 seconds left in regulation, their work was finally rewarded, as Snead popped in from three yards out to give Mount Si the lead. The Wildcats failed to convert the ensuing two-point try.

Mount Si was very much in celebration mode at this point, but Marion Bactol made sure to change that in a hurry. The Crusader senior run ner, who himself had a good game, returned the resulting kickoff all the way back to the Wildcat 16-yard line, giving EC a chance to come back and win. Two plays later, it happened. With 16 seconds left, it appeared the Crusaders, had spiked the ball on second down. But Cuaresma didn’t do that. Instead, he threw an air hook into the left corner of the Mount Si end zone, and on the other end of that was Esau.

That connection put EC back in the lead, stunning all in attendance on the Wildcat side. The Crusaders went for two extra points, but failed.

Mount Si had one more chance, but it ended quickly, and EC moved on to the second round. The Wildcats, on the other hand, were left in a state of disbelief. A season that was special in a lot of ways for so many was gone in a heartbeat.

Mount Si ended 2008 at 6-5.

“It’s been a great season. We’ve got guys that don’t even want to leave this field,” Kinnune said.

Mount Si had the toughest schedule in the state, the coach added.

“There’s nobody that’s played five ranked teams,” said Kinnune, referring to a schedule where they played Issaquah, Bellevue, Liberty, Peninsula and the Crusaders, all of whom were ranked the weeks the Wildcats played them.

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