Skyline Spartans inch within one win of another state title
November 27, 2012
By John Leggett
According to the book of Revelations in the Bible, 666 is the number of the beast.
That is also the number of points Skyline High School’s relentless gridiron juggernaut has scored on its unsuspecting prey in the 13 contests it has engaged in during the 2012 campaign thus far.
Perhaps Bellarmine Prep, a religious school out of the Tacoma area, which the Spartans will lock horns with at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 in the WIAA 4A state championship in the Tacoma Dome, should graciously accept this as an omen of things to come.
Maybe Skyline will show compassion.
When the Spartans tangled with the Camas Papermakers in the semifinal round of the WIAA’s Gridiron Classic at the Tacoma Dome Nov. 24, Skyline was the scissors to Camas’ paper, though.
The Spartans started slow, at one point in the first quarter falling behind, 14-0. Eventually, the Spartan swords were able to cut through the Papermakers like a hot knife through butter, and douse out the furious flame of the blazing 12-0 contingent from Vancouver, 51-28.
As the highly touted skirmish began to unravel before enormous representation from both schools, Papermaker followers thought they must have been dreaming, as only three minutes into the initial stanza, their beloved Camas crew had already notched seven points against a vaunted Skyline defense that had allowed well under 200 points in its previous dozen outings, or an average of 18 points per game defensively.
After the ensuing kick-off, Skyline could manage very little offensively against a seemingly stingy Camas D, but on the fourth down of its second fruitless drive, Skyline senior Sean McDonald, who does both the kicking and the punting for SHS, booted a skyscraping punt that didn’t allow any return and pinned Camas back on its own 2-yard line.
After Camas understandably went the conservative route, sending its running back between the tackles for a minimal gain in treacherous territory juxtaposed to its own goal line, on the very next play, the Papermakers surprised everyone in the building, by going for all the marbles.
Trying to buy time in the pocket in the midst of a fierce Skyline pass rush, talented Papermaker quarterback Reilly Hennessey scrambled around for as long as he dared, and then hurled the pigskin as far as he possibly could. The ball found the outstretched arms of Hennessey’s receiver Zach Eagle, in midstride 50 yards away and streaking for pay dirt.
After Camas kicker Roldan Alcobendas split the uprights with the point after touchdown attempt, Skyline found itself in a completely unfamiliar predicament, trailing 14-0 with five minutes left to play in the game’s first quarter.
“I was really proud of the guys for not panicking and keeping their wits about them,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said, “but I will admit at that point they were playing with more of a sense of urgency than they had prior to Camas going up 14-0.”
Indeed, Camas’ second 7-point shot across the bow did appear to serve as somewhat of a wakeup call for the unbeaten lads from Sammamish; after that, it became almost all Skyline the rest of the way.
The Skyline scoring spree began with a bit a trickery as All-Galaxy senior Spartan QB Max Browne, flung a lateral behind him to his halfback, Matt Sinatro, who in turn tossed the ball into the awaiting arms of a smiling Nic Sblendorio, who was wide opened 7 yards away in the Camas end zone, to break the scoring ice for SHS. McDonald then proceeded to leg through the extra point kick and Skyline had sliced Camas’ advantage in half.
Then, McDonald, who served as a valuable and apparently secret weapon in the Skyline arsenal, blasting a 47-yard field goal just before intermission, drove his next kick-off well past the grasp of any Camas return men, for his first of many touchbacks.
After the ball changed hands a couple of times, the second quarter was just commencing when Skyline linebacker Peter Stromgren interrupted the flight of a Hennessey pass, pilfering the errant aerial and running it back to the CHS 25-yard line.
From there, Skyline marched the ball toward the Camas end zone and culminated the short scoring drive with a 14-yard dart to Austin Bui from Browne, who threw for more than 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Though, to its credit, Camas did not call it a season with a whimper, as it generated a couple of touchdowns after the break, it was much of the same when Skyline tabulated four more scores to leave little doubt in the outcome.
In a 4A state championship rendezvous Dec. 1 in the Tacoma Dome, with both contingents from Western Washington, the rivalry factor alone should yield quite a throng of people.
While Skyline is an undefeated 13-0, Bellarmine Prep’s Lions have played a like amount of encounters and have been caged only once during their 2012 campaign. That one setback came at the hands of Lakes High, out of the South Puget Sound League 3A, as Bellarmine Prep absorbed its only loss of the season, 42-38, to the Lancers.
Bellarmine Prep edged out a tough Auburn squad, 21-19, in the semifinals’ other contest and earned the right to face Skyline, ranked No. 1 in the state, in the showdown for state supremacy.