Late-night film sessions have helped Brian Higgins play smart and fill some big shoes as Mercer Island's new quarterback.
Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. on Saturdays, Mercer Island quarterback Brian Higgins receives film of that Friday night’s game and starts analyzing his play.
Higgins has held these late-night study sessions for a couple years, but it may be even more important now. This season, Higgins replaced Jeff Lindquist, who cast such a big shadow that no one wanted to wear his No. 5 jersey.
“That’s where I have to make up the difference,” said Higgins, a senior. “If we’re going to be more efficient than we were last year, I think it has to come with smart plays and consistency rather than that huge play.”
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Before the season, Higgins told coach Brett Ogata that he was a little nervous about replacing Lindquist, now a freshman quarterback at Washington.
“He did some things that were not normal for a high-school athlete to do,” Higgins said.
But Higgins has handled his increased role while guiding Mercer Island to a 4-1 record and No. 8 state ranking in Class 3A.
He’s completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,180 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, relying on his understanding of the offense instead of arm strength. In one game, he completed 10 of 11 attempts. In another, he threw 60 passes.
Higgins made one start last year when Lindquist didn’t play because of a sore shoulder. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown in a 41-7 win against Interlake.
“I always said that he probably would have been a starter on most teams last year in the state of Washington,” Ogata said
Higgins is receiving recruiting interest from Ivy League schools, and Ogata called him one of the most studious players he’s coached.
“I just have to know that I’m not playing the same game Jeff could,” Higgins said. “I can’t expect to do the things he did.”
their steady climb
Roosevelt has improved by one win each of the past three seasons, from 2-7 in 2009 to 4-5 in 2011. After a 21-17 win on Friday against previously ranked Issaquah, the Roughriders are in position to improve their record again.
Senior-heavy Roosevelt is 3-2, with Newport, Garfield and Ballard left on the schedule.
“I’m just glad they get the positive feedback of the hard work that they put in,” said Matt Nelsen, in his sixth year as Roughriders coach.
Roosevelt opened the season by knocking off then-ranked Seattle Prep and stayed within a touchdown of now-ranked Kennedy Catholic in Week 2.
Roosevelt has relied on a physical style of football to grind out wins against opponents that might be a little more athletic. Against Issaquah, senior captain Mitchell Shepherd intercepted a fourth-quarter pass and running back Taku Shiozaki converted it into his second touchdown of the game.
“These guys deserve it,” Nelsen said.
The “first season” didn’t go so well for the Lakes Lancers. But they hope to make the most of what coach Dave Miller calls the “second season” and still have hopes for a “third season” — the Class 3A state playoffs.
Miller put together an ambitious early schedule against four quality 4A teams — Woodinville, Bellarmine Prep, Skyview and Camas. Three are ranked.
Lakes, which began the season ranked No. 3 in the state in 3A, got off to a disappointing 1-3 start.
“It was probably biting off more than we could chew,” Miller said.
Especially considering the Lancers’ youth. Lakes has only six seniors. Miller kept 11 freshmen with the varsity — an unheard-of number for him — and two start. He also has 12 sophomores.
“We expected some growing pains,” Miller said. “It was trial by fire. But it bodes well down the line. We actually might be two years away.”
But the Lancers are still favored to win the SPSL 3A — the “second season” — although Peninsula might have something to say about that.
“We’re just trying to get better ever day,” Miller said.
Little Renton back
has big night
Ernie Davis checks in at just 5 feet 9, 170 pounds, but he had a big hand in Renton’s 62-35 victory over Highline last Friday.
Davis, who plays running back and outside linebacker, rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 77-yard TD pass and returned an interception 46 yards for a score. That receiving touchdown, on a short screen pass, was mostly Davis. He had a 69-yard TD reception two weeks earlier against Foster.
“He makes magic out of those things,” Renton coach Donald Ponds said.
Despite his lack of size, Davis doesn’t shy away from contact.
“He’s a between-the-tackles guy,” Ponds said. “He can make people miss, but he likes to break tackles. He has a lot of wiggle. He just makes plays happen.”
• Bellevue enters Friday’s game against Interlake with a 31-game win streak. The record for consecutive wins by a KingCo team is 32, by Juanita from 1984-86.
• Skyline quarterback Max Browne eclipsed the 10,000-yard mark last Friday. He has passed for 10,022 yards, 114 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.
• Bothell plays No. 5 Glacier Peak on Thursday. The Grizzlies will be Bothell’s fourth ranked opponent in six games.
• Seattle Prep running back/cornerback Teré Calloway, who missed the Panthers’ last two games with a knee injury, is expected to play Friday at Bainbridge.
• After rushing for 318 yards last Friday against Lynden Christian, Blaine’s Mario Gobbato needs 871 to pass former Bellevue back J.R. Hasty for seventh place on the state’s career rushing list, according to state historian Dave Maley.
Gobbato has rushed for 4,623 yards, according to The Bellingham Herald. Jonathan Stewart of Timberline rushed for a state-record 7,755. Connell’s Matt Hadley ranks second with 6,881.
• Class 3A and 4A Week 10 football brackets were released Wednesday and are available on the Times’ high-school sports blog.
Times staff reporter Sandy Ringer
contributed to this report.