The top-ranked Spartans had everything working Friday night in a 42-0 victory against Issaquah. Despite playing in the pouring rain, their offense was remarkably balanced and their defense dominated the game. I credited the Spartans with five sacks.
“There were times where we could just bring four [rushers] and get after them,” said Skyline coach Mat Taylor of his defensive line.
Issaquah coach Chris Bennett said the dominant Spartans defense was little surprise.
“They get a lot of publicity for Jake [Heaps] and Kasen [Williams] and their offense, but the one thing that showed up all week on tape was their defense and how fast they can run to the football,” Bennett said.
What was critical early on last night was third- and fourth-down conversions. The Eagles didn’t convert a third down (or get any first down for that matter) until their fourth possession in the second quarter, and by that time it was 21-0.
Skyline were 3-of-8 on third down conversions in the first half, but four of those stops were immediately followed by successful fourth-down conversions.
“We weren’t able to move the chains and convert third downs, and they converted a bunch of third downs in the first quarter and a couple fourth downs,” Bennett said. “It’s tough when you can’t get off the field [on defense] and it’s tough when you’re going three and out [on offense].”
Heaps had two touchdowns throwing and two rushing on the night, stats that accurately conveyed the impact he was able to make with both his arm and his legs. It was the perfect Senior Night for the heralded quarterback.
“Everything that surrounded this game was so surreal,” said Heaps of Senior Night. “From being a ballboy and watching the seniors do this every year, to finally it being my turn it was so surreal and an amazing experience.”
Said Taylor: “Jake’s just a tremendous leader. Even though it wasn’t what we’d like, throwing the ball as much as we had to, he was able to run it.”
Senior running-backs Nick Washburn (18 carries, 190 yards) and Nick Beauchamp (7 carries, 76 yards, 2 TDs) combined to have a great night on the ground. Taylor called Beauchamp a “sparkplug.”
Heaps said the offensive line had a little something to prove in establishing the ground game.
“They were kind of tired about hearing how good Issaquah’s run game was,” Heaps said. “They wanted to prove we’re a balanced team and I think we showed that. We showed we can do both things, still able to throw the ball effectively in the game.”
Issaquah’s best chance to score came on their third drive in the first quarter, when quarterback Ryan Bergman just missed an open Evan Peterson down the middle of the field.
“We had a chance to hit a homerun ball down 14-0, and if we hit that it’s 14-7 and we stay in the game, but we couldn’t hit it,” Bennett said. “So we missed that opportunity, then we couldn’t run the football, and when you can’t run the football you become one-dimensional and they can pin their ears back a little bit.”
Up next for the Spartans: the regular-season finale next Friday at Redmond. Then a big game against No. 2 Bothell in the KingCo championship.
Issaquah hosts Newport next week.