The game ended the way most everybody expected it would, with the coronation complete, the champions still champions and the dynasty intact. There would be no upset at the Tacoma...
TACOMA The game ended the way most everybody predicted it would, with the coronation complete, the champions still champions and the dynasty intact.
But what a crazy night it was at the Tacoma Dome.
Just where this year’s Bellevue High School football team figures in the pantheon of Washington’s great prep teams is up for debate, but there’s no denying the top-ranked Wolverines’ significant claim to the top. Not after last night’s hard-fought 31-28 victory over 14th-ranked Ferndale in the Class 3A state-championship game in front of 6,994.
The victory clinched for Bellevue (13-0) a fourth consecutive title, the first such achievement by a team in any classification. It also earned the Wolverines the distinction of becoming the first program in any classification to win five overall football championships. Eight other teams have won four.
“I’m overjoyed, I can’t explain it,” said senior center Jordan Hebert. “I almost had a heart attack there a couple times like three times.”
Bellevue’s seniors, who will graduate this spring having known nothing but state championships, gathered for a picture. Fans, including the ones in the front row who spelled out “We own the Dome” with letters on their T-shirts, screamed and shouted.
“It’s great to go out on top,” said Bellevue’s star running back J.R. Hasty, who gave the Wolverines all the cushion they needed with an 18-yard touchdown run with 2:57 remaining. “Especially to put the seniors in a good position like this.”
The Golden Eagles (13-2) from Whatcom County fought gamely, refusing to yield after falling behind 24-7 at halftime. They scored 14 unanswered points to start the second half on touchdown runs of 3 and 11 yards by junior quarterback Jacob Locker, pulling to 24-21 with 8:49 remaining.
But the Wolverines responded with a clutch 10-play, 63-yard drive capped off by Hasty’s 18-yard scamper.
That’s when things got crazy. Ferndale recovered an onside kick at the Bellevue 46, but fumbled on its first play. Bellevue’s Peyton Johnson recovered with 1:35 left and the game appeared to be over. But the normally sure-handed Hasty fumbled on Bellevue’s first play, and Ferndale’s Jonathan Le fell on it with 1:28 to play.
The frantic sequence set up Ferndale first-and-10 at the Bellevue 44. Four plays later, having only gained 1 yard in the previous three, Locker lobbed a pass to the end zone for Sandusky. But Bellevue’s Keith Rosenberg and Ryan Lee tipped it and the ball fell incomplete with 51 seconds.
And that’s the way Bellevue’s 23rd consecutive victory ended, 31-28, everybody exhausted and the Wolverines a perfect 16-0 in the state playoffs under fifth-year coach Butch Goncharoff.
Ferndale came out intent on stopping Hasty. But that cleared the way for teammate Keith Rosenberg, who pierced the Golden Eagles’ defense for first-half scoring runs of 51, 54 and 36 yards.
The 6-foot, 180-pound junior, finished with 11 carries for 189 yards.
Hasty entered last night’s game needing 238 yards to break the state’s all-time season rushing mark of 2,676 yards set by Ferndale’s Matthias Wilson in 1997. But he came up well short, finishing with 80 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, his 50th of the season.
Still, the effort pushed him into fifth place on the all-time list with 2,519 yards.
Locker, a junior, finished with 20 carries for 154 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 3 of 12 passes for 86 yards and a score. He was intercepted once, by Hasty.
Bellevue also beat Ferndale in the 2001 quarterfinals, 14-0.
“To come so close and not get it, it’s really hard,” said Locker. “I knew we could play with these guys, and we proved we could. I know we’re a lot better than we played in the first half, and it’s too bad it has to end like this.”
If the Golden Eagles were at all intimidated by Bellevue, they sure didn’t show it. Locker engineered a 10-play, 80-yard drive on the game’s opening possession, capping the march with a 26-yard scoring scamper on fourth-and-11.
He rushed five times for 56 yards on the drive, giving an indication of how slippery he would prove all evening.
But the champs responded with predictable resolve.
Just as it did after giving up a long opening-drive touchdown run to De La Salle in Week 1, Bellevue answered with a big play of its own. It came courtesy of Rosenberg, who sprinted 51 yards for a touchdown on Bellevue’s fourth offensive play. Tim Nienaber added the extra point and the score was tied at 7.
Seventeen more points, including a 3A state-title game record 46-yard field goal by Nienaber, and the Wolverines had a 24-7 halftime lead.
Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Bellevue not only became the first football team in state history to win four consecutive championships, but the first to win five titles overall:|
|5||Bellevue||4A, 3A||1983, 2001, ’02, ’03, ’04|
|4||Colton||B-11||1975, ’76, ’77, ’83|
|4||Curtis||4A||1989, ’90, ’95, ’96|
|4||DeSales||B-11||1991, ’97, ’98, ’99|
|4||Inchelium||B-8||1983, ’91, 2000, ’01|
|4||Raymond||1A, B-11||1973, ’74, ’75, ’93|
|4||Touchet||B-8||1979, ’94, ’98, ’99|
|4||Tumwater||3A, 4A||1987, ’89, ’90, ’93|
|4||Willapa Valley||B-11||1978, ’79, ’96, 2001|