Skyline Spartans blank Issaquah Eagles, 21-0, in battle of rivals
October 23, 2012
By John Leggett
When you are the No. 1 4A high school football team in the state, used to winning games by 30-point margins, you are able to overcome just about every form of adversity, even if it’s in your imagination.
Nationally ranked Skyline High School Spartans senior quarterback Max Browne experienced a lackluster first half by his undefeated 8-0 Skyline football squad Oct. 19, when it hosted the Issaquah Eagles in a battle for local bragging rights. The game ended in a 21-0, Skyline victory.
Browne did not like the spectacle that unfolded during a mediocre 24 minutes of Spartans’ football in the first half of the annual Issaquah School District rivalry, which saw Skyline holding a scant 7-0 advantage at intermission.
Normally Browne, who leads the KingCo 4A in passing with a 75 percent completion rating and has flung nearly 20 touchdowns this year, lets his actions furnish the inspiration to fire up the troops.
On this particular occasion, though, he let his cohorts know what was in his heart, via what must have been a motivating halftime speech.
Whatever the fiery Spartans’ signal caller had to say to his teammates during the break must have gotten their attention, because despite monsoon-like precipitation throughout the second half, the gritty Spartans returned to their usual dominating selves, bringing the partisan crowd to its feet on more than one occasion.
The Spartans hogged the pigskin for 20 of the 24 second-half minutes. Issaquah’s primary source of offensive output, junior running back Jack Gellatly, rolled up his customary 100-plus yards on the ground, but ran unencumbered only between the 20s as Issaquah failed to approach its strong kicker Alex Shane’s field-goal range.
“We just aren’t a good enough team yet to overcome mental mistakes, turnovers or other impediments along the way, especially against a team like Skyline,” Issaquah coach Chris Bennett said.
Bennett quickly added that Eagle followers needed to realize that neighboring Skyline isn’t unbeaten by accident.
“You’ve got to remember that Skyline is a well-coached, disciplined and fundamentally sound football team that has been blowing its enemies out all season long. Unless I am mistaken … I don’t think that any other team they’ve played this season has held them to seven points in the first half,” he said.
“I really feel like the drive we managed during our initial possession in the first quarter, capped off by the Browne 2-yard touchdown plunge, and the drive right after halftime, were instrumental in tonight’s triumph over Issaquah,” said Skyline head coach Mat Taylor, who was soaked to the skin but smiling after the game.
“Those scoring marches were both long, sustained drives that took a lot of time off the clock and kept the football out of Issaquah’s offense’s hands,” he added. “That drive that came just into the second half enabled us to sort of re-establish ourselves and determine the tempo for the remainder of the game.”
The Spartans played keep away, maintaining possession of the ball for nearly eight minutes in the third quarter, culminating the second lengthy scoring drive of the night with an 18-yard touchdown scamper by fleet-footed senior tailback Cedric Cooper.
In the fourth quarter, after Gellatly was temporarily knocked out of the encounter, Skyline scored its third and final touchdown of the clash when senior back Matt Sinatro snagged a dart on a rope from Browne and racked up six more points toward the cause on a 5-yard TD pass completion.
Skyline kicker Sean McDonald split the uprights with his third extra point boot of the night, the final point scored, although Skyline probably could have scored again on a drive that burned up the game’s last five minutes. Skyline was on the threshold of scoring again as it reached Issaquah’s red zone with two minutes remaining, but Taylor showed a touch of class as he instructed Browne to take a knee at the Issaquah 15 three times as the clock ran down.
Skyline could not have drawn a more fortuitous foe as a warmup encounter. The Spartans’ opponent in the KingCo 4A championship is the pride of the Crest Division, the 4-0 in league, 5-3 overall Bothell High School Cougars, at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at Pop Keeney Stadium.
While Bothell has more weapons in its arsenal than Issaquah, it similarly features a quality ball carrier in senior running back Danny Wilson, the premiere running back in KingCo 4A, averaging 150 yards on the ground per game.
Wilson, No. 49 on the Bothell roster and No. 1 in the hearts of the Cougar faithful, has accrued well over 1,000 yards rushing during the 2012 campaign on 100 carries and has found the end zone 14 times.
Issaquah (2-3, 4-4) will host a cross over affair with Woodinville (3-1, 6-2) at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at Gary Moore Stadium.