Football pushes ahead in state playoffs

Mount Si carrier Matt Bankston moves with the ball after a hand-off from Ian Ilgenfritz, at right, during play Saturday, Nov. 7, against Hazen. The win at Renton sends Mount Si against Bellevue this weekend. - Photo by Calder Productions
Mount Si carrier Matt Bankston moves with the ball after a hand-off from Ian Ilgenfritz, at right, during play Saturday, Nov. 7, against Hazen. The win at Renton sends Mount Si against Bellevue this weekend.
— image credit: Photo by Calder Productions

The Mount Si High School football team made the trek to Renton last Saturday, Nov. 7, looking to make it back to the state 3A playoffs.

They had to survive a little adversity, but got it done and in the process learned some valuable life lessons about the importance of classroom studies.

The Wildcats were without starting quarterback Chris Clark for much of the game; his benching was the result of academic issues he dealt with last week. Clark’s backup, junior Ian Ilgenfritz, held his own; after Clark came in, Mount Si pulled away and posted a 27-0 shutout win over the Hazen Highlanders.

Saturday’s game was played under less-than-ideal conditions, but Wildcat coach Charlie Kinnune said the team stuck with it to end up on top.

“Everyone contributed to the game very nicely,” Ilgenfritz said.

Mount Si’s defense was strong throughout, but had to survive a scare in the first quarter, when the Highlanders made it to within four yards of the end zone. Penalties stalled the drive and forced Hazen all the way back to the 20 yard line, where a field goal attempt was missed.

Later in the half, the Wildcat offense went to work. Several runs by Matt Bankston and a pass completion from Ilgenfritz to receiver Jordin Kinnune helped Mount Si get on the board with a Bankston four-yard scamper into the end zone for the Wildcats’ first touchdown. That was the lone score in the first half, despite some late fireworks which included a Hazen turnover on downs and a blocked Mount Si punt.

Things heated up in the third quarter. Cameron Van Winkle missed a field goal attempt from 40 yards out, allowing the Highlanders another opportunity. But Wildcat linebacker Zach Storm decided to make his mark instead. The Wildcats forced a Hazen fumble which was recovered by Storm with a minute left in the frame. Then on the first play following the switch from Ilgenfritz to Clark at quarterback, the senior threw a 16-yard strike to Jordin Kinnune for Mount Si’s second touchdown. Going to the fourth quarter, things were getting clearer with Mount Si up 14-0.

“Chris has had a great year, of course, (but) had to get some things straightened out in the classroom,” Kinnune said. “He ended up doing that, so we were able to bring him in and get a good finish.

“Ian is our quarterback next year, and it’s a great opportunity for him to get ready and do some good things,” the coach added.

Van Winkle kicked a pair of 32-yard field goals in the final stanza, and in between those field goals, Storm stood tall again. In a play reminiscent of Alex Hiebert’s famous 2006 playoff “pick six” interception and subsequent touchdown which sealed Mount Si’s first round state playoff win that year at Camas, Storm intercepted a pass from Highlanders quarterback Travis Johnson and returned it about 30 yards for a touchdown.

“Coach (Wayne) Lewis has been teaching us (to) keep our head on a swivel,” Storm said. “I saw their wide receiver on the outside and the quarterback was eyeing him. I looked back and I saw him, coming off to the side. I just got back on my drop, right where (my coaches) wanted me. I got the ball.”

The win advanced the Wildcats to a round-of-16 game against Bellevue this Friday, Nov. 13.

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