Sports

Mercer Island football scoots past Lake Washington in final home game win

Eric Stefanchik (9) is congratulated by a teammate for his great first half during the Islanders’ win over Lake Washington last Friday. - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
Eric Stefanchik (9) is congratulated by a teammate for his great first half during the Islanders’ win over Lake Washington last Friday.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

It was a night characterized by big offensive plays for Mercer Island, as the team honored seniors with a final home game win over Lake Washington, 48-23.

The Islanders earned their fourth win of the season through solid offensive play throughout the game, including two 80-plus yard runs by quarterback Jeff Lindquist for touchdowns late in the game.

“Jeff Lindquist had a pretty good night,” said head coach Brett Ogata. “He was able to run the ball and throw it well. He had some big plays. Eric Stefanchik early in the game had some big plays. I thought the defense tackled and did a pretty good job of that. There weren’t any particular standouts on the defensive side, but I think the whole line did well.”

The team will play its final game next week against a Metro 3A team in a crossover game.

“There was a little bit of disappointment at times,” said Ogata of the season. “But I think, for the most part, I’m pretty happy. It’s been a steady increase of the program getting better and better. That’s all I can ever ask of these kids, is getting better and working hard.”

Friday evening, against an injury-depleted Kangs team, the Islanders found themselves battling back from a 7-0 deficit early on after Tad Iba scored with 9:54 on the clock in the first quarter.

Two minutes later Eric Stefanchik connected with Lindquist deep in the field for a touchdown with 7:09 left to play in the first 12 minutes. The extra two point attempt failed, leaving Mercer Island trailing the game 7-6 at the end of the first.

But the Islanders reversed their fortunes early in the second quarter when the Lindquist, Stefanchik combo struck again for another touchdown, giving MI a 13-7 lead. From there the Islanders were on a roll.

Lake Washington head coach Steve Supple said his team showed moments of holding their own against the Islanders, but over time and unable to replace tired players they fell further behind.

“When we lost Al Donnelly, who was our best player, that took away 50% of the offense,” said Supple of the Kangs injury troubles. “With no offense and defense playing series after series you just get worn out. We just can’t reload fast enough to stay in the game like that. There are times when we compete and we’re even, but once we get tired and worn down they just reload with fresh guys and thats what we get.”

Lake Washington did close the point gap in the middle of the second quarter with punter Alex Krebs making a 48-yard field goal for the Kangs, making the score 13-10. Following the kickoff return where Nicky Sinclair left the field injured for MI, Lindquist found an opening for a touchdown with 6:14 on the clock. The score was now 20-10.

With Lake Washington unable to stop the Islanders late in the half, Lindquist capitalized on an open Kyle Reitinger for another MI touchdown, this time with 49.4 left for a 27-10 score.

Krebs made his second of three field goals of the night for Lake Washington with 12 seconds left to put the game in a 27-13 situation.

After the halftime, which celebrated All Island Band night and performances by the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grade bands from the MI School District, the Islanders swung back into action. Lindquist scored his second touchdown of the night with 6:08 left in the third to bring the game up to 34-13.

He wasn’t done yet in the match, running a 90-yard touchdown after Lake Washington turned the ball over on downs on the 10 yard line. The run gave the team a 41-13 lead which ended the quarter.

Back in action in fourth quarter Krebs made another field goal, this time from 28-yards out to bring the Kangs to 16 points. After Alex Rorem returned a kickoff to the 16-yard line, Lindquist found his space and sprinted for another touchdown, this time an 84-yard run. The Islanders led 48-16.

Lake Washington regained control of the ball, but quickly lost it, burning through four downs to give the Islanders the ball on the 27-yard line. But the Kang’s Robert Reyes intercepted a ball that bounced into his arms, scoring the team’s final touchdown of the night with 5:35 left to play. The game score was 48-23.

The Islanders finish the KingCo season with a 4-5 record overall and take fifth in the conference, while Lake Washington ends the regular season with a 3-6 record and in sixth place overall.

“It’s just working on offense and defense, just trying to get better,” said Ogata about what the team has worked on. “The guys are hanging in there and getting better. It’s just about Mercer Island, we just have to get better as a team and as a program. It doesn’t matter who we play, we just have to ready to play to the best our ability.”

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