BOTHELL – When leading rusher Christian Galvan went to the sideline after just one play and couldn’t go with a nagging ankle injury, the rest of the Bothell football team knew it was time.
Time to turn up.
Junior defensive lineman Gabriel Johnson, junior quarterback Andrew Sirmon, senior H-back Colin Fisherkeller and senior running back Talataina Tevaga all more than filled the void.
After falling into a 14-point first-half hole, ninth-ranked Bothell came roaring back to claim its first KingCo 4A title in five years to leave eighth-ranked Eastlake reeling 47-24 on Thursday night in the KingCo 4A championship game at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Early on, it looked like the contest was headed for a different outcome. Eastlake (7-2) hiked its lead to 21-7 when quarterback Grady Robison turned a routine keeper up the middle into a 53-yard TD scamper down the right side of the field with 7:46 left before halftime. Robison was flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty when he raised the ball in the air in early celebration at the Bothell 15 during the TD run.
That drew the Cougars’ ire, and the tide turned. Bothell ran off 33 consecutive points and finished the game on a 40-3 run as the program nicknamed “The Blue Train” rolled to its seventh KingCo title since coach Tom Bainter took over in 2000.
“That’s just not the way we play football here, so it did (draw his team’s ire) a little bit,” said Bainter of Robison’s taunting penalty. “But we always talk about we can’t control the other team, but we can control us. I’m really proud of our kids, the way they played and the way they fought.
“We told our guys that there’s going to be spurts, and they went up 21-7. I think (Robison) got tired. He’s a heckuva athlete, but it’s long football game for a kid who runs that much.”
Robison finished with 130 yards rushing on 16 rushes with one rushing score and he was 13 of 23 for 131 yards passing and two TD tosses.
His counterpart, Sirmon, not known for his two-dimensional ways, passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more. Sirmon carried the ball eight times for 71 yards and completed 13 of 17 passes for 240 yards.
Johnson had four tackles for loss, including three sacks.
Fisherkeller added a pair of scores, one with a catch and another on a punt he blocked and then scooped up and ran into the end zone. Tevaga, filling in for the injured Galvan, powered his way to 124 yards and a TD on 17 totes.
“I like our guy (at quarterback) a lot,” Bainter said of Sirmon. “He makes you miss, and he’s faster than you think. He breaks tackles.”
The Cougars (7-2) earn KingCo 4A’s No. 1 seed and face the NPSL 4A’s No. 7 seed in a Week 10 playoff matchup next Friday or Saturday. Eastlake enters postseason as KingCo 4A’s No. 2 seed and meets the SPSL’s No. 4 team in a Week 10 playoff game.
Bothell scored on the first possession of the second half as Sirmon, with brother and UW backup quarterback Jacob watching, found Jordyn Turner deep for a 64-yard touchdown pass for a 33-21 lead with 11:11 left in the third quarter.
On Eastlake’s next possession, Fisherkeller blocked Robison’s punt, scooped it up and raced in for a 16-yard TD return and suddenly Bothell’s lead swelled to 40-21 less than two minutes into the second half. That gave the Cougars 33 unanswered points.
“It was Big Mo,” Eastlake coach Don Bartels said of the flipped script after his team went up 21-7. “That really surprised us. That game was won and lost on two plays, the deep vert (vertical pass) to start the second half and then the (blocked) punt. As soon as that happened, we found ourselves in a totally different situation.”
The last time the Wolves played in the KingCo 4A title game was in 2011, when they fell to Woodinville 17-14.