I’ll admit I wasn’t overly impressed with the Auburn Mountainview defense for the first few minutes of Friday’s football game against ninth-ranked Lakes.
Or I should say I was more impressed with the Lakes offense, which took the opening kickoff and marched from its own 33 to the Mountainview 14 in five plays, thanks largely to Jaive Magalei’s 23-yard pass to a wide-open Benning Potoa’e.
But then the Lions roared, dropping Yisrael Stephens for a 1-yard loss. A penalty negated an 8-yard pass play, then Gresch Jensen stepped up with his fourth interception of the season.
Mountainview went on to hand Lakes’ first shutout of the season and you can read my account of the game here. The Lancers came in averaging 45.4 points per game – tops in SPSL 3A. Sure, they weren’t at full strength with some academic ineligibilities, then lost another top player – WR/DB Kemonee Jenkins – in the first half when he was sandwiched by a pair of Mountainview defenders going up for a pass.
That was one of several big hits the Lions leveled on the night with safety Gavin Robertson leading the way. They recorded three sacks and shut down a Lakes offense that had been averaging better than 400 yards per game.
“We were hitting tonight, so that was good,” Jensen said. “I think the guys were fired up.”
The Lions did just enough offensively to win, with TD runs by Jensen and Bitner Wilson. I didn’t see the official stats, but Wilson and Nate Hardin both ran hard and finished with a little over 50 yards apiece. Jensen made some great reads and led all rushers with 93 (unofficially).
By the way, Potoa’e (6-4, 265) is the real deal on both sides of the football and should have an impact at the next level. Stephens and Magalei also had nice games for the Lancers.
Auburn Mountainview (6-0, 4-0), which in my opinion deserves a spot in this week’s top-10, now faces an even bigger challenge against No. 6 Peninsula (5-1, 4-0), which owes its only loss to 4A Gig Harbor after leading big early.
The Lions are 0-6 against the Seahawks (as they were against Lakes) and this one should be for the league championship. They’ll have another tough one after that against rival Auburn (4-2, 3-1).
Lakes (4-2, 2-2) must regroup quickly against Sumner (3-3, 1-3), which lost a tough one Thursday against Auburn, 31-30. The winner could well wind up as the fourth and final qualifier to the playoffs with the loser ultimately staying home.
One last thought on Friday’s game: I saw more sportsmanship than I’ve witnessed in a long while. Players on both sides were helping each other up and I didn’t see any chest-thumping. Very refreshing.