Skyline Spartans continue dynasty, conquer state championship

December 6, 2011

By Christopher Huber

Skyline wins sixth title since 2000 with 38-7 dominance over Skyiew

Mason Gregory, Skyline High School senior wide receiver, outleaps Skyview senior defensive back David Garlington for a 35-yard touchdown catch. By Greg Farrar

TACOMA — Before heading to the field for his second 4A state championship football game as a starter, Skyline High School junior quarterback Max Browne sat in the same chair in the same locker room as he did last year.

But this year was different. This year, he was more experienced. This year, his team, after losing the title in 2010, was more driven to prove they were once again the best in the state.

That drive, reinforced with the sting of three regular-season losses, proved to be a potent factor as the Spartans outmatched the Skyview Storm, 38-7, for its sixth football title Dec. 3 at the Tacoma Dome.

Title times

Skyline state football championships:

  • 2000 — defeated Lakes, 42-30, 3A
  • 2005 — defeated Woodinville, 35-21, 4A
  • 2007 — defeated O’Dea, 42-35, 3A
  • 2008 — defeated Issaquah, 20-15, 4A
  • 2009 — defeated Ferris, 45-21, 4A
  • 2011 — defeated Skyview, 38-7, 4A

“This is what every high school player wants to experience,” Browne said after the game. “We got it done. It’s a dream come true.”

Despite facing one of the largest offensive and defensive lines it had seen, Skyline (11-3) used a balanced and efficient attack to pick away at Skyview all game to take home its fourth state championship in five years.

“We’ve faced bigger lines than ours all year,” Browne said. “But we didn’t force anything.”

Browne completed 15 of 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. Skyline tallied 352 yards on offense and the defense held Skyview to 230 yards. It limited star running back Parker Henry to just 34 yards on 15 carries.

The Spartans moved the ball quickly from its first possession. After a nearly 5-minute possession, it settled for a 24-yard field goal by Sean McDonald. Skyview’s first four possessions ended in two punts and two failures to convert on fourth down.

Skyline took a 17-0 lead into the halftime break.

Running back Damian Greene, of Skyline, took the ball 25 yards up the middle for a touchdown just eight seconds into the second quarter, capping a 79-yard, 11-play drive. And with 7:53 left in the half, Browne found receiver Mason Gregory for a 35-yard touchdown pass. The Spartan offensive line gave Browne plenty of time all night to find his receivers. Gregory caught two passes for 48 yards.

“The biggest thing is keeping them off balance,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said.

The Storm came out flat and struggled to move the ball in the first half. It gained just 96 yards in the first half and drove no farther then the Skyline 32-yard line. The Storm defense pressed all night, intercepting two Browne passes and sacking him three times.

A resurgent Storm scored first in the second half, cutting the deficit to 17-7. Quarterback Kieran McDonagh connected with receiver Reiley Henderson for a 32-yard scoring play with 5:44 left in the third quarter. McDonagh, who had thrown for 2,622 yards and just four interceptions all season, finished the game 19 of 31 for 162 yards and three interceptions.

That scoring drive was it for Skyview. It staged a 12-play drive ending the third and opening the fourth quarter, but hopes for another touchdown were dashed when Greene intercepted a McDonagh pass at the Skyline 20-yard line. Greene, a senior, finished with 76 yards on 16 carries.

“We knew they were big, but didn’t really care about that,” senior linebacker Peyton Pelluer said. “We just wanted to play them like any other team. This is huge. We wanted redemption.”

Skyline went up 24-7 after Jack Valencia rumbled around the left side for an 11-yard score with 4:49 left to go. Three minutes later, the Spartans put the game away for sure after Matt Sinatro picked off a fourth-and-9 pass from McDonagh at the Skyview 34-yard line. Browne connected with receiver Trevor Barney for a 33-yard passing touchdown to make it 31-7 with 1:40 remaining. Barney finished the night with five receptions for 83 yards.

Valencia gave Skyline one last thing to cheer about when he returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown with 34 seconds left. It put a cap on a complete performance by a Spartans team focused on getting back on top.

“It’s the best it’s ever been,” Taylor said of the Skyline football program.

Christopher Huber: 392-6434, ext. 242, or chuber@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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