Spartans eye threepeat of state title
December 1, 2009
By Christopher Huber
Skyline avenges conference title loss to Bothell with 31-26 win
After they lost to the Bothell Cougars in the 4A KingCo Conference championship game in October, Skyline High School linebacker Anthony DeMatteo said the Spartans decided to change everything.
Skyline had won back-to-back state championships, but despite losing two big games this season, the players had still become overconfident, he said after the Nov. 28 4A state semifinal with Bothell.
“We changed everything. We changed how we ran practice,” DeMatteo said. “We brought back the old intensity that Skyline used to have.”
That renewed intensity and dedication paid off for Skyline against the top-ranked Cougars as the Spartans won the rematch 31-26. Skyline will play Ferris, of Spokane, at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 for the state title at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s gratifying to know we can come out this season and win a close one, win a big one,” Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps said on the field afterward. “I tip my hat off to them. They’re one of the best teams I’ve ever faced.”The Spartans got out to an early 7-0 lead after their defensive aggressiveness caused Bothell miscues. Skyline blocked a punt on Bothell’s first possession of the game. DeMatteo recovered the ball at the Bothell 33-yard-line and three plays later, Heaps connected with junior wide receiver Jordan Simone for a 33-yard touchdown.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Skyline’s Adam Albaum returned a fumble 52 yards for a touchdown to put Skyline up 14-7. Spartan linebacker Tommy Aarts hit Bothell’s Wendall Galvan on a punt return to cause the fumble.
“We started off in a hole,” Bothell head coach Tom Bainter said. “Against a team like that, you can’t do that.”
The Spartans made their fair share of mistakes, too, missing two scoring chances.
After recovering a pooch kick on a kickoff in the first quarter, Skyline threatened again. But Bothell’s Kevin Knapp intercepted a potential Heaps touchdown pass. Heaps threw another interception to end a promising drive at the start of the second quarter.
“He wasn’t making poor choices, it was just they just made great plays on the ball,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said.
The Cougars proceeded to drive 80 yards in about two minutes to tie the game at 7-7. Cougar quarterback Mitchell Muller capped the drive off with a 47-yard touchdown bomb to receiver John Sullivan. Muller completed 10 of 24 pass attempts for 171 yards.
Heaps, however, proved effective on third downs and in pressure situations all night. He finished with 221 yards after completing 16 of 31 passes. He threw three interceptions. Receiver Connor Brandt caught five passes for 87 yards; Kasen Williams had four catches for 45 yards.
Skyline led 21-10 at the half, after Heaps tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Brandt with 17 seconds remaining in the second. Bothell kicked a 41-yard field goal and scored a touchdown in the third quarter to make it 21-19. After Skyline’s Nick Washburn scored an eight-yard touchdown to go up 28-19, the Cougars came back with a 65-yard scoring drive to start the fourth quarter.
Kicker Sean Penberthy put the Spartans up 31-26 with a 32-yard field goal with less than five minutes left. The Skyline defense did the rest to preserve the win. It held Bothell’s star running back, Luke Proulx, to just 48 yards on 21 carries. Defensive back Evan Zeger intercepted a Muller pass with 2:44 remaining.
“We just had to do our jobs. Whenever they started getting big plays is when we stopped doing our jobs,” DeMatteo said. “We came out and we just had to play as hard as we could. We knew they were going to give us a fight.”
Taylor said although he would have liked to face Bothell in the state championship, he was happy with how the team has refocused for the title game.
“I wish it didn’t have to end (for Bothell), to be honest,” he said. “But KingCo was well-represented and hopefully we’ll represent very well next week.”
On the title trail
W – Jesuit, Ore., 17-0
W – at Ballard 42-12
L – Oaks Christian, Calif. 25-28
W – Newport 55-6
W – Garfield 55-0
W – at Eastlake 43-7
W – Issaquah 42-0
W – Redmond 42-7
L – Bothell 20-25
W – Kentridge 42-0*
W – at South Kitsap 63-14*
W – Curtis 49-14*
W – Bothell 31-26*
SKYLINE TITLE HISTORY
-2000 – 3A title game, W, Lakes 42-30
-2004 – 4A title game, L, Evergreen (Vancouver), 14-28
-2005 – 4A title game, W, Woodinville, 35-21
-2007 – 3A title game, W, O’Dea, 42-35
-2008 – 4A title game, W, Issaquah, 20-15
-2009 – 4A title game, vs. Ferris
W – North Central 59-0
L – Gonzaga Pep 35-38
W – Mead 28-10
W – Mount Spokane 31-14
W – Esperanza, Calif., 41-35
W – Shadle Park 56-7
L – Central Valley 31-34
L – Lewis & Clark 20-42
W – University 28-23
W – Wenatchee 21-10*
W – Kamiakin 41-16*
W – Eisenhower 24-14*
W – Skyview 46-41*
Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or email@example.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.