Sports

Bliss-full impact for football team | Senior sets school record at new position with 5 sacks

This year has not been easy for Sam Bliss. The senior began the season as the Mercer Island football team’s starting quarterback but was supplanted by freshman Jeff Lindquist. But multiple concussions and various other setbacks never knocked Bliss completely out, as he remained a leader on the team.

Bliss finally found his place on the field Friday. The senior set a Mercer Island High School record with five sacks as the Islanders beat Sammamish, 21-10, thanks to big second-half performance.

“It just felt good to get back on the field and contribute,” said Bliss, who was playing in just his second game at the defensive end. “It was good for the team and felt good to get a win.”

The Islanders looked like they might need Bliss to step back in at quarterback during the first half as Lindquist was a dismal 3-for-8 for 17 yards. Mercer Island’s special teams were not any better, missing a 46-yard field goal and having a punt blocked that was run back 35 yards for a touchdown. A 36-yard field goal gave the Totems a two-score lead heading into halftime.

But Bliss and Lindquist would come alive during the second half.

A Sammamish fumble on the opening kickoff of the third quarter was recovered by the Islanders’ Bryce Borer on the Totem’s 20-yard line.

One play later, Lindquist threw a high lofting pass to the far corner of the end zone. Turned the wrong direction, Borer spun around and caught the ball while falling down to bring Mercer Island back within three points.

“We switched our game plan a bit at halftime, and it worked well,” said Mercer Island coach John Williams.

The first play from scrimmage for the Totems resulted in another fumble, this time recovered by Islander Charles Asmus.

Two plays later, Kurtis Rosengreen followed his offensive line into the end zone to give Mercer Island the 14-10 lead.

Rosengreen worked hard for the Islanders on Friday, carrying the ball 22 times for 98 yards.

“He is a good, hard runner and we have him for one more year,” said Williams. “We expect some good things from him.”

Two possessions later, Bliss would stop Sammamish in its tracks. A sack on the second and third down by Bliss forced the Totems into a punting situation.

“I am really happy for him,” said Williams. “He plays really hard, and I think we found a position for him.”

Four plays later, Lindquist would find Mike Potoshnik in the end zone for a diving catch to give the Islanders a 21-10 lead.

Mercer Island finished the scoring with a long 69-yard touchdown pass from Lindquist to Borer.

While the first half was not kind to the freshman quarterback, the second half was nearly perfect as he went 4-for-4, passing with three touchdowns and 123 yards. Lindquist now has eight touchdown passes for the season, just four away from the school record, with two games left in the season.

As for Bliss, his fifth sack of the game would come, fittingly, on Sammamish’s final offensive play of the game.

The Islanders will have a scary task on Friday, when they travel to Juanita High School for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Islanders can still finish the season at .500 but will need victories in their final two games of the season.

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