The Skyline fans were there early, packing the visitors’ section at Bellevue High School’s stadium more than an hour before Bellevue and Skyline kicked off their seasons Friday night. By kickoff, the fence surrounding the field was packed a couple deep with fans, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been more like a postseason game.
The game couldn’t have been more unlike it.
Let’s recap: Six fumbles for Bellevue, working in new quarterback Tommy Castle, on snaps and handoffs. At least they held onto five of them. Skyline lost four fumbles, including one with just 1:47 left and only imminent victory ahead of the Spartans. That allowed Bellevue one last chance to win.
Skyline coach Steve Gervais summed up his emotions at that point in one word, one I used in the intro to my story this morning: “Disbelief.”
The same could be said for Friday’s night’s game as a whole. Just a weird, disjointed game among two teams still playing their way into shape. It wasn’t pretty, particularly the Bellevue offense. Now I must admit I had never seen Bellevue before Friday night. I had read USA Today’s recent article on Bellevue and the wing-T, and I couldn’t wait to see the offense in action, especially with a team that has pulled it off so successfully the past few years.
Friday was nothing for Bellevue to write home about, especially not to the entire country.
First off, the Wing-T was hard to find Friday night. Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff, who remained calm and steady even after his first shutout as a high-school coach, said the Wolverines went to other formations because they figured Skyline would be ready to defend the wing-T. But Skyline had gone back through four years of tape to look at Bellevue’s other formations, and the Spartans were ready for them.
So this was the first half for Bellevue: 23 carries, 28 yards. The two biggest gains for the Wolverines in the half: a Skyline personal foul and when Skyline fumbled a punt, allowing Bellevue to move ahead 26 yards.
That was the story for Skyline, which had about five opportunities to put the game away and didn’t. That said, Jake Heaps showed signs that he can keep the Skyline passing game alive, particularly on the 60-yard touchdown that proved to be enough. But can Skyline make as many mistakes as it did Friday and continue to be near the top of the Class 3A rankings and at the top of KingCo 3A? I, for one, don’t think so.
Bellevue, on the other hand, hasn’t lost two straight in the regular season since 1997, and the Wolverines haven’t started 0-2 since 1996. But I get the feeling these Wolverines would like to stop talking about the past and start thinking about improving an inexperienced offense in time for next week’s game at Mount Si (which beat Sammamish 29-12 on Friday night). A pair of coaches from a nearby school were at the game Friday night, and next to the Skyline players and fans, they had the largest smiles leaving the stadium. The word is surely already out there: this could be the year to topple Bellevue. Frankly, I’m very interested to see how the Wolverines bounce back.
The Seattle Times rankings took a beating, but this game might have the greatest effect. Bellevue will drop, how far I don’t know. I can’t say I’d recommend them for even the top 10 from this first impression. They didn’t score.
There will definitely be movement in Class 3A, where fourth-ranked Kennedy and ninth-ranked Kennewick also lost. So who do you think belongs at the top of Class 3A, with our first Friday in the books? Reply with your rankings, if you’d like. I’ll see Lakes today at Qwest in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic. I’ve had people tell me if the Lancers don’t take 3A, it will be a shocker.
What’s evident this morning? Right now, Bellevue isn’t ready to make a serious run at them to defend its title. The past is clearly in the past.
Morning stars (expanded Saturday edition)
1. Lamardray Fuller, Beamer, football. Can’t beat 307 yards on 24 carries, which were Fuller’s numbers in a 49-14 win against Jefferson. One run was 97 yards.
2. Derek Jones, Snohomish, football. This is a night’s work: take 34 carries for 208 yards and two touchdowns, play every down on defense and take care of the punting duties. It all added up to a 27-14 Snohomish victory.
3. Tyson Riley, Mount Si, football. Here’s one for the defense. Riley had interception returns of 82 and 84 yards for Mount Si, which can go to 2-0 in KingCo 3A next week if it can break a nine-game losing streak to Bellevue.
4. Nick Olearain, Juanita, football. Added three interceptions to two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown in a win against Ballard.
5. David Williams, Puyallup, football. Ran for 225 yards on 17 carries in a 30-7 win at Sumner.
Today’s top games
1. Lakes vs. Gig Harbor, football, 3 p.m. at Qwest Field. The top-ranked team in 3A begins with Gig Harbor and big lineman Matt Bernard.
2. Chugiak Alaska at Bothell, football, 7 p.m. Bothell, the second-ranked team in 4A and the state runner-up in 2006, faces a team that made the semifinals last season in Alaska’s large-school division.
3. Liberty at Newport, football, 8 p.m. at Qwest Field. Maybe not the Kickoff Classic’s highest-profile matchup, but it’s the one that matters most because it could decide one of KingCo 3A’s playoff spots in November.