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Islanders Top Seattle Prep 19 – 15
By Linda Williams Rorem
Special to the Reporter
Mercer Island football fans were out in full force Friday night to watch the Islanders kick off the season in a non-league game against Seattle Prep at West Seattle Stadium.
With one of the most prized arms in the region, junior quarterback Jeff Lindquist led a terrific passing game, in which he threw for 222 yards, with 23 of 45 passes completed, for a final score of 19 - 15.
Several of Lindquist’s successful passes came early in the game, culminating with a touchdown by junior Nick Sinclair just minutes into the game. Sinclair made five more receptions, for a total of 100 yards in the game.
Before the first quarter was over, the Islanders had moved the ball downfield again, and junior Eric Stefanchick scored on a six-yard screen pass.
The Panthers came back strong in the second quarter, with a brutal defense led by 215-pound Nick Holt, a senior linebacker whose father is the Huskies’ defensive coordinator. Holt scored twice in the second quarter, first with a nine-yard run following a fourth down, and then after stripping the ball from Islander junior Connor Bernal’s hands.
Just before half-time, the Islanders missed a field goal and the opportunity to tie up the game; the score stood at 15 – 12 after two quarters.
The game’s second half was all about defense for both teams, with neither scoring until the game’s final moments. The Islanders continued to look strong, thanks in part to a year-round conditioning program that Head Coach Brett Ogata says has left the boys “in better shape, faster and stronger than ever before.”
As the fourth quarter neared its end, the Islanders stood at a fourth down with 15 yards to go, and decided to punt with just four minutes remaining. The Islanders defense rose to the occasion, stopping Prep on three plays to force a punt and get the ball back at the Islanders’ 36 with two minutes remaining.
With strong motivation for a win, the Islanders drove the ball 64 yards, and capped the game – with four seconds remaining – with a successful seven-yard touchdown pass to Ben Emanuels in the end zone. It was a fitting ending for Emanuels, who had a great game, carrying the ball nine times for a total of 56 yards.
Coach Ogata was obviously pleased with Friday’s results, and is anticipating a successful season. “The chemistry is great and the players are working hard,” he said recently. “All of the work has really paid off, and they’re having fun.”
The Islanders will host Newport this Friday at 7 p.m. in the first home game of the season.