Issaquah falls to top-ranked Bothell

November 24, 2009

By Bob Taylor

The Issaquah High School football team was feeling confident at halftime against top-ranked Bothell. The Eagles were trailing by 10 points and felt they had a chance to knock off the Cougars in the Nov. 20 4A state quarterfinal in Pop Keeney Stadium.But the Eagles couldn’t find the winning formula in the second half as they lost to Bothell 30-9, ending their season with an 8-4 record.

Issaquah entered the contest averaging more than 40 points per game in the postseason. The Eagles knocked out the Cougars last year 31-28 in the state quarterfinals.

“Our kids were excited to play Bothell again,” said Issaquah coach Chris Bennett, whose team lost to the Cougars 36-14 in the season opener. “To be trailing just 10 points at halftime, we felt confident we could come back.”

But Bothell’s defense, which has been tough all season, allowing just 58 points in 11 games, didn’t let the Eagles get back in the game. The Cougars kept Issaquah out of the end zone until the fourth quarter, when Nik Landdeck scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run, cutting Bothell’s lead to 20-6.

Bothell wrapped up the game a few minutes later on a 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mitchell Muller to Kevin Knapp and a 20-yard field goal by Jon Mercer.

“Bothell always made the key plays when they had to, and we didn’t make the plays we needed to make at the time, and they did on both sides of the ball. That’s why they are going on,” said Bennett, referring to the Nov. 28 4A state semifinal between Bothell and Skyline.

The Cougars’ defense was tough from the start, forcing Issaquah to punt on its first three drives. Bothell led 3-0 when Issaquah had a punt blocked, which set up a 9-yard touchdown pass from Muller to Knapp.

Bothell kept the Eagles’ passing game grounded, and also kept running back Grant Gellatly, who had scored eight touchdowns in the previous two playoff games, in check.

Despite the loss, Bennett said he was pleased with his team’s efforts.

“I thought our all our kids played hard,” he said. “We had our chances, but couldn’t take advantage of them. We fell one game short of getting back to the Tacoma Dome, which was our goal.”

Bennett complimented the senior class, which for two straight years played in the state playoffs, reaching the title game in 2008 and the quarterfinals this season.

“There are a lot of schools in our league that have never done that,” he said. “This senior class is the best we’ve had in Issaquah history.”

After a tough start to the season, with losses in two of the first three games, the Eagles finished strong.

“We won nine of our last 10 games before last week. We beat good teams in Kentwood and Jackson in the playoffs,” Bennett said. “I’m happy with our season, although we did fall one game short of where we wanted to be.”

It was a season when Issaquah quarterback Ryan Bergman set school passing records and Evan Peterson set school pass receiving marks. Peterson is one of Issaquah’s top returning players for 2010.

“In fact, all of our receiving corps will be back. We have Taylor Wyman returning as a running back,” Bennett said. “We have a good nucleus coming back.”

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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