Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960




  Bitter cold.  Bitter defeat.  For the second straight season Newport (Bellevue) of the Kingco League has ended Lake Stevens’ football season by beating the Vikings on the latter’s home field in the State Playoffs. 

    This time the score (43-40) was much closer than last year (62-35, in a game that was tied 28-all late in the first half) but that is little consolation for the Vikings, who saw a three-touchdown second quarter lead turn into agonizing defeat when Lake could score only once after halftime (also the same as last year).

    The game was played in temperatures deep in the twenties.

    Compounding the agony was a lost fumble midway through the fourth quarter that cost Lake a chance to score what may have been the winning touchdown.  To make it even worse, the fumble, by Andrew Grimes on the Newport six-yard line on second-and-goal, was not without controversy.  Though it appeared that Grimes may have been down when the ball was stripped from his grasp, an official ruled it a fumble.

    After that, Lake never touched the ball again as Newport’s punishing ground game methodically ran out the clock.

    Same as last year, when Newport’s bigger and very physical offensive line simply wore out the Viking defense, dominating time of possession and allowing Lake only very limited touches.

How limited?  How about Newport rushing the ball 83 times to Lake’s 13, outgaining the Vikings on the ground by 541 net yards to 89. Jacob Eason did manage to complete 12 of 17 passes (with one interception) for 124 yards but only four of those attempts and 38 of those yards came after halftime during which time Newport ran 45 plays to Lake’s nine.  Newport did not attempt a single pass for the entire game.

    Still, this was a game which Viking players, coaches and fans will forever remember as a “coulda /shoulda / oughta” win situation. 

    A bitter loss indeed, one which could have propelled Lake deep into the Playoffs in a season which looks wide open for the championship.  Lake finished at 9-2 while Newport (also 9-2) advances.

    The game couldn’t have started better for Lake when Brandon Otis returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, Otis’ fourth kick return TD of the season.  Nacho Ponce added the PAT and

Lake led 7-0 with 14 seconds elapsed.

    Lake then held Newport to three and out and after the punt took over on its own 32.

    Seven plays and 68 yards later Lake scored again, sparked by an 11-yard Grimes run, three straight Eason completions including an 18-yarder to Grimes, finished by a 19-yard Grimes TD run in which he dazzled the Newport defense with some very nifty cuts.  14-0, at 7:15 of the first quarter.

    Newport struck back on its next possession when a slick fake by quarterback Jordan Sanberg freed him to waltz into the end zone from 45 yards out.  The PAT kick snap was fumbled but holder Justin Lau alertly picked it up and rolled right, barely crossing the goal line for a two-point conversion.  14-8, at 6:08 of the first quarter.  

Extra points were to prove crucial, providing Newport with its three-point margin of victory as the Knights converted all three of its kicks and two of its three two-point tries while Lake missed two of its six PAT kicks.

    Newport took the lead at 15-14 at 1:13 of the first quarter by driving 66 yards in seven plays culminating in Paul Wells’ 44-yard sweep right.  Hunter Hahnemann added the PAT.

    But Lake revived to score the next 19 points.

    Hunter Eckstrom’s 88-yard kickoff TD return immediately gave Lake a 20-15 lead 59 seconds before the end of the first quarter.  But Ponce’s PAT banged off the left upright, no good.

    Newport committed a colossal tactical error when, on its first possession of the second quarter it elected to go for it on fourth and seven on its own 31 yard line and Michael Nelson and John McCollum tackled Sanberg for a sack and a one-yard loss as the latter rolled out to possibly pass.

    Lake took over on the Newport 30 and was in the end zone two plays later, a 10-yard Eason to Tevin Gray pass and another shifty Grimes run for a 20-yard TD.  27-15 with 10:56 left in the half.

    Just 26 seconds later a Nelson fumble recovery gave Lake possession on the Newport 35.

    After an Eason sack he passed 10 yards to Grimes and 21 yards to Eckstrom (the latter making a great fingertip catch), leading to Eason’s three-yard TD pass to Krenz cutting across the middle.  But Ponce again missed the PAT, leaving Lake’s lead at 33-15 seven minutes before halftime.

    Newport retaliated with a 77-yard TD drive in just five plays, topped by Sanberg’s 48-yard TD in which he again faked out the Viking defense to score untouched.  33-22 at 5:14.

    Newport’s onside kickoff failed but Lake was unable to gain a first down and punted to the Newport ten-yard line.

    The Knights closed out the half by driving 90 yards for a touchdown with seven seconds left.  The 13-play drive overcame a 15-yard penalty and thus covered 105 yards, with Wells sweeping right for an 11-yard TD on fourth and two, barely crossing the goal line. 

    That touchdown was doubly hurtful for the Vikings who saw linebacker Sam Burke, second in Viking tackles for the season, suffer a broken leg on the play.  After a several minutes’ delay Burke was transported to the hospital in an ambulance.   McCollum recovered Kiethley’s  fumbled attempt for a two-point conversion.  33-28 at halftime.

    Newport’s momentum carried over into the second half, as its bevy of rushers, benefitting from Sanberg’s deceptive handoffs and pitchouts took the kickoff and marched 59 yards in 11 plays, with Nick Kiethley scoring from the four.  Sanberg sneaked into the end zone for a two-point conversion which pushed Newport ahead by 36-33, at 7:34 of the third quarter.

    Lake retorted with a five-play, 59-yard TD march of its own.  Consecutive 11-yard runs by Grimes followed by consecutive Eason to Gray passes of 19 and 9 yards led to Grimes’ four-yard TD run.  Ponce’s PAT put Lake back ahead by 40-36, at 5:14 of the third quarter.

    But Lake had no more possessions in the third quarter, while Newport from that point on, until the end of the game, ran 34 plays to Lake’s four.

    Newport launched an 18-play drive (not counting three Newport penalties) covering 90 time-consuming yards which finally ended with an 18-yard TD sweep to the left side by Wells.   43-40 Newport, with 9:17 left in the game.

    On Lake’s first play following the kickoff Eason launched a pass which traveled over 60 yards in the air but was intercepted (in double coverage) by Sanberg on the Viking 23.

    But on fourth and less than a yard Sanberg saw his handoff batted into the backfield where Kolby Jones recovered the ball on the Newport 23, with 7:27 left.

    Grimes rushed for six yards, then Eason passed to Otis for 10 yards for a Viking first-and-goal on the six and a half.   But on the next play Grimes, though seemingly down on the six, had the ball stripped out of his arms.  Despite protestations by several Vikings the ball was awarded to Newport with 6:05 left.

    The Knights systematically ran out the clock from there and time expired with Newport kneeling down on the Viking 30.

    Perhaps just one bad break away from advancing in the Playoffs, Lake’s season came to a heart-wrenching end.

    Despite the frustrating finale, Lake’s season was rife with high points.  A second straight Wesco 4A championship.  An offense which was perhaps the most explosive and dynamic in the state, punctuated with record-setting performances by Eason and Grimes and Jones, among others.  This was the highest-scoring team in Viking history, averaging 42.5 points a game. 

    Eason’s TD pass vs. Newport gave him 60 for his career so far, in which he has surpassed the 6000 yard mark.  Grimes (like Eason, a junior) netted 1,688 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns, breaking the former Viking record of 1,479 yards by Isaac Molstre in 2006.

    Jones, a senior, with 26 tackles vs. Newport, pushed his season total to a remarkable 196 tackles, shattering the previous record of 160 tied last year by C.J. Lat.

    Complete 2014 Viking statistics (both offense and defense) are available from Viking Stats at [email protected] .

    In addition to Jones’ 26 tackles vs. Newport, several other Vikings contributed heavily in that department, including Nelson 19, Krenz 14, Lars Eklund 13, McCollum and Marquize Postelwait-Kim with 11 each, Justin Brown and Michael Wilkins with 10 each, Grimes 9, Burke and Gray and Chris Lasater with 7 each.

You might be interested in:

Reader Comments

Rendered 12/16/2014 11:30