Big plays win KingCo for Skyline
October 31, 2008
By Christopher Huber
NEW — 12:28 p.m. October 31, 2008
With less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Skyline High School Spartans were driving. They trailed the Cougars of Bothell 12-9 and had struggled earlier to complete a few clutch plays against Bothell’s tight defensive coverage.
That didn’t deter junior quarterback Jake Heaps and sophomore receiver Kasen Williams. With the clock ticking, Heaps and the offense converted third-and-long and fourth-and-short. A few plays later, Heaps let it rip from the Bothell 15-yard line to Williams, who slipped and, as he fell, caught the ball on the goal line just a foot from the reach of defender Shaq Townsend.
The Oct. 30 win makes it official: The Skyline High School football team is the KingCo 4A champion for 2008. In front of nearly 4,000 fans, the Spartans beat Bothell 16-12 Thursday in the closest match-up this season at Skyline Stadium.
“They’re a good football team,” said Bothell coach Tom Bainter. “They’ve got great athletes and made big plays when they needed to.”
Ranked seventh in the nation by USA Today, Skyline was tested from the beginning, when Bothell came out holding no punches on both sides of the ball.
“For how small their line is, they played with a huge amount of heart,” senior lineman Grant Engel said of Bothell’s formidable defense. “It’s probably one of the best defenses we’ve played.”
The Spartans were the first to score. Kicker Brian Schwartz booted a 28-yard field goal halfway through the first quarter to put them up 3-0. But that didn’t mean a thing to Bothell, which has gone 6-0 since losing its first two games this season.
Senior running back Patrick Ottorbeck picked away at the Spartans in the second quarter, eventually making it to the Skyline 2-yard line. Skyline held its own in the Red Zone and forced Bothell to settle for a field goal.
On offense, Heaps took the first half to get his bearings in the air. A few mistargeted passes led to two interceptions and missed opportunities in the first half.
“We definitely didn’t come out strong enough,” Williams said of the lackluster first half.
Bothell took the lead in the second quarter after pounding away with the run. The squirmy and elusive Ottorbeck scored on a 25-yard blast up the middle. The touchdown was the first scored on the Spartans’ starting defense all year. The Cougars led 9-3 at the half.
Skyline made some adjustments in the locker room and came out a new team for the second half.
“I told them they need to grow up and that someone was taking it to them,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “We’re going to face adversity and they hadn’t. We didn’t react very well to it.”
The offense came out harder and more focused, Williams said.
“We made some good adjustments at the half and went with what was working,” Heaps said after the game.
What was working were big hits on defense and big pass plays on offense. Bothell defenders consistently doubled up on senior Gino Simone, so Heaps went to Williams for a 33-yard touchdown in the third. After a missed extra point, the game was tied 9-9.
Both teams’ fan sections stayed riled up until the end, as Bothell and Skyline battled to break it open.
Skyline’s defense held Bothell to only one more field goal in the fourth.
Heaps finished 18 for 31 passes for 263 yards. He threw his second and third interceptions of the season. Williams was unstoppable, with 9 receptions for 183 yards, while junior Nick Washburn ran eight times for 54 yards.
“Jake made some great reads and we were trying to get to them and were working some great plays on them,” Taylor said. “They had a great defensive game plan.”
Skyline held Bothell to 199 total yards Thursday, only 86 of which were passing.
The Spartans were able to hold on after taking the four-point lead with two minutes left. Bothell had to score from its own 35-yard line, but lost any chances when Skyline’s Rob Tramonte recovered a fumble on the 28.
The crowd went wild as the jubilant defense left the field. As fans chanted, “Drive home safely,” the Skyline offense held the ball as long as it could to run out the clock.
The Cougars had two plays to make something happen in the final seconds, but to no avail. The Skyline defense did its job.
Engel turned 18 Thursday.
“I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present,” he said. “I’m happy my family could watch the game.”
The game was one of only two in the country televised nationally Thursday on ESPNU.
Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.