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Mercer Island football ends season with win over Eastside Catholic
The night the lights went out in Islander Stadium, it wasn’t just because it was the last game of the season. Thanks to an apparent glitch with Puget Sound Energy just before halftime was over, the football lights went out, bathing the field in the red glow of the scoreboard. Despite the setback, the Islanders would go on to beat Eastside Catholic, 48-38, in the final game of the season.
After the lights returned and the teams warmed back up, the two sides scored an impressive 49 points in the fourth quarter. Islander quarterback Jeff Lindquist had almost 500 yards during the game and six touchdowns.
“I was very pleased with the results of this season,” said head coach Brett Ogata. “I was happy with the kids’ effort and the progress. I saw a lot of growth. We ended the year on a high note and even though we had a lot of points in those last games, I could still see our guys making improvements and making smarter plays.”
The evening began with a strong Mercer Island lead, with Lindquist scoring a 90-yard touchdown run with 7:34 remaining in the first quarter. It was his second 90-yard touchdown in two games. But the two-point conversion attempt failed for MI, who ended the quarter with a 6-0 lead.
His second scoring run of the night came in the middle of the second quarter, with a short run to the end zone for a 13-0 lead over the Crusaders. A 37-yard run for Lindquist yielded the third Islander score with 3:02 left in the half for a 20-0 lead over Eastside Catholic.
The Crusaders were finally able to get on the board in the last seconds of the first half, as Chevy Walker ran the ball over the goal line for 20-7 ball game with 40 seconds left in the second.
After the break and after the lights came back on, Mercer Island’s T.J. Blackburn recovered a Crusader fumble early in the third quarter to give MI the football on the 36-yard line. But moments later on the same MI drive, Eastside Catholic intercepted the ball to regain possession.
Later in the quarter the Crusaders kicked a field goal for a 20-10 ball game with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter. Lindquist rain for his third straight touchdown of the night, with 1:11 remaining on the clock to give MI a 27-10 lead.
The fourth quarter dawned and quickly the teams picked up the pace, making the rest of the night seem like a quiet one in the end zones.
With just half a minute off the clock in the fourth, Eastside Catholic scored, followed by Lindquist’s fourth just two minutes later for a 34-17 game.
The Islanders scored with 7:07 on the clock to bring it up to a 41-17 game. While Mercer Island had just one more touchdown left in the game, scored by Lindquist with 6:32 on the clock, Eastside Catholic was far from done.
The Crusaders scored just after the kickoff return, and again with four minutes left in the game, followed by their final touchdown of the night with 1:10 on the clock.
Lindquist ended the night with over 250 yards rushing and over 200 yards passing on the field. Mercer Island finished the season with a 5-5 record.
Lindquist ended the season with 694 rushing yards, averaging 99.1 per game while teammate Alex Emanuels had 135 total for an average of 45 per match. In the Islanders passing game, Eric Stefanchik led the Islanders with 463 total receiving yards, averaging 66.1 a game, while Alexander Rorem had 253 total and 42.2 per game. Senior captain Connor Bernal had 251 total during the 10 weeks with 5.9 a game. Lindquist also led the team’s passing game, with 118 completed passes for 1387 yards, averaging 198.1 a game. Defensively Blackburn led the team in tackles with 41 this season.
Ogata said he felt tackling was one area the team made big strides this year, going from missing many of their tackles in the first game, to hitting almost all of them in the final match.
“That’s one part where I felt they really improved a lot,” he said. “I thought our passing defense and passing offense also were strong. We were No. 2 in the league in passing defense and No. 1 in passing offense. I really felt like those were strong.”
Overall while the Islanders did have five losses this fall, Ogata said each of those teams made the state playoffs and two of the teams the Islanders beat also made the post season, proving just how tough the conference can be.
“I want every player to have a great experience and if they are saying that, then that’s great,” he said.