VIKING FOOTBALL RIDE ENDS VS. SKYVIEW, LAKE TAKES THIRD IN STATE
Photo by Kathy Hahn
Lake's magical ride through the State Football Playoffs ended last Saturday night in the Tacoma Dome where the Vikings fell to Skyview of Vancouver, 38-17.
Lake (12-1) finished in third place among the state's elite 4A teams.
Skyview's (11-2) losses were early in the season to the big school state champions of Oregon and Idaho.
Serendipity, chemistry, momentum and breaks had gone Lake's way for the most part throughout the season but that all vanished against Skyview, a team with a huge line and an exceptional quarterback with a bevy of quick, talented receivers.
Against such a formidable foe there is little room for mistakes, but Lake turned the ball over to the Storm on five occasions (three fumbles, two interceptions).
A tipoff that this was not going to be Lake's day came on its very first play from scrimmage, Jake Nelson's completed pass to Quincy Carroll which was fumbled away.
The Storm converted that into a six-play, 39-yard touchdown drive capped by Parker Henry's one-yard run. Key play in the drive was Kieran McDonagh's 36-yard pass to Gabe Manske immediately following a holding penalty on the Storm.
Hayden Shuh's PAT made it 7-0 at 9:30 of the first quarter.
Lake went three and out on its next possession, then caught a break when a 36-yard McDonagh screen pass for a touchdown to Reiley Henderson was negated by a penalty. Lake held on downs on its own 26.
From there, Lake seemed to be driving for the tying touchdown when Christian Gasca fumbled on a reverse on the Storm 24 with 2:32 left in the quarter. Lake had gained three first downs on that drive with a reliable mix of short passes and runs.
That turnover led directly to Skyview's second touchdown, a 74-yard, nine-play drive with McDonagh going six-for-six for 70 yards and a seven-yard TD pass to Henderson. Five seconds into the second quarter Skyview led 14-0.
Lake's next possession went three and out and Skyview took over on the Viking 38 following Brady Pahukoa's shanked 12-yard punt out of bounds.
Three plays later McDonagh scrambled for an apparent 27-yard touchdown but it was negated by another Storm penalty.
Three plays after that Skyview had yet another touchdown flagged off, a 22-yard pass to Forrest Russell. But Lake could not stand prosperity when, on the very next play, McDonagh scrambled untouched for a 27-yard TD. 21-0, with 8:29 left in the half.
Lake's next possession was thwarted by consecutive sacks of Nelson, with Skyview taking over following Lake's punt on the Storm 30.
Bad seemed going to worse when McDonagh complete three of four passes for 48 yards, but the final pass to Russell was stripped by Paul Labreche and scooped up by Andrew Elgaen and returned 41 yards to the Storm 49 with 2:30 left in the quarter.
Lake, given sudden, unexpected life, took full advantage of the break.
Nelson ran for six yards, then completed passes of six and 23 yards to Giddens and Gasca. Following a sack of Nelson which pushed the ball back to the 14, he hit Pahukoa with a 14-yard scoring pass. Sellars' PAT cut the gap to 21-7 with just 10 seconds left in the half.
Lake may have thought that it had gained momentum at last, but Skyview reversed that by traveling 73 yards in 10 plays after receiving the second half kickoff.
McDonagh was five-for-five on the drive for 70 yards including a 38-yarder to Mo Morrison and the former polished off the drive with a one-yard TD run. 28-7, with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
The situation became hopeless after Lake subsequently went three and out and Skyview executed a second consecutive 73-yard TD drive, this time in five plays.
McDonagh's 46-yard completion to Morrison set up a 16-yard scoring pass to Russell. 35-7, with 4:11 left in the third.
Next, with Nelson completing six of seven passes Lake drove to the Skyview 35 but a holding penalty and a Nelson interception ended that sortie.
Nelson had a productive fourth quarter against Skyview's starters, completing 11 of 16 passes in the period for 111 yards including a nine-yarder to Gasca to make it 35-14 with 7:29 left.
A 31-yard Skyview field goal closed out the scoring at 38-14 with 3:40 left.
Defensive coach Joe Cronin's major objective heading into the game had been to limit Henry's ground game. That mission was accomplished. Lake held Henry to 77 net yards in 18 carries (he had gained 230 yards in the Storm's win over number one ranked Bellarmine the week before) and that included one 30-yard gain.
Lake wanted to force McDonagh to pass under heavy pressure but the Vikings were unable to lay hands on him while he was dumping off little tosses to his quick, wide-open receivers who Lake was unable to cover or to tackle.
Lake's turnovers opened the door for Skyview to grab an early lead and the field tilted in the latter's favor after that (just as Lake did to Eastlake in the quarterfinals).
Photo by Kathy Hahn
Had the Vikings played an error-free game they may have kept it close, but that was not to be.
Bitter as the defeat was, it cannot overshadow this amazing season in which the seniors provided great leadership and the team as a whole far exceeded what had been expected of it by most people. Lake was not even favored to win its league this season (Arlington was the heavy favorite), let alone steamroll to twelve consecutive victories, average 40 points a game, and set many school records in the process.
Praise is also deserved for head coach Tom Tri and his hard-working staff of coaches and volunteers, and to the Viking fans and students who thronged to the games in record numbers.