Football team wins final game, future bright for program

Islanders crush Chief Sealth, 48-6

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

A tradition started at the beginning of the season by new Mercer Island head football coach Bill Heglar did not go too well this year. In an attempt to have unity and bring a stronger sense of school pride, Heglar had his team line up in front of the bleachers and sing the school’s fight song with the marching band.

Friday night, the singing was a little more vibrant as the team earned its first home win of the season, 48-6, over Chief Sealth as the Islanders finished the season 2-8 overall.

“Chief Sealth is in a rebuilding mode, and when you have 50 kids going against 25, that is what happens,” said Islander head coach Bill Heglar.

Mercer Island moved the ball well from the start, building a 21-0 lead during the first quarter, thanks to a 76-yard touchdown run by Graham Maxwell, a 13-yard touchdown reception from Thomas Hallowed to Tyler Reutimann and a one-yard touchdown run by Bobby Norton.

“I think our kids realized it was their last game and came out and moved the ball well,” said Heglar. “The D did a nice job, as well.”

The Islanders took a 28-0 lead into halftime as Andy Thompson ran the ball into the end zone from 13-yards out.

The season has been marred by second-half swoons this year but the Islanders kept scoring against Chief Sealth. First, Hollowed found Chris Pothoven for a 34-yard touchdown reception and on the next possession Mercer Island running back Phillip Seda ran the ball for eight yards and the team’s sixth touchdown of the game. Erik Swedsted capped the Mercer Island scoring during the contest with a five yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter.

“I got a good look at some of our younger kids, and there is a lot of talent there,” said Heglar.

Freshman team wins eight games

The Mercer Island high school freshman team completed their season last week by beating previously undefeated Liberty 32-0. The Islanders finished tied with Liberty in 3A KingCo at the freshman level for the best record at 8-1.

“We had a really strong team,” said Islander freshman football coach Larry Bencivengo. “We only lost to Mount Si but we have a whole lot of really talented kids in the program.”

The loss to Mount Si was a close 21-14 contest. Mercer Island also defeated Bellevue this season for the first time in five years, 24-6, and earned a victory over Skyline, which will move back to class 4A next year.

The team was led by quarterback Ben Emanuels and offensive play maker Ryan Blumenstein.

All three Mercer Island Boys & Girls Club football teams made the playoffs this season.

But the big test will be to see how many of the students stick around and play for the varsity team in coming seasons. The varsity football team has lost many players to other sports in recent years.

“You have to work hard in the off season,” said Bencivengo. “You can’t afford to fall behind.”

But the focus at the top is to continue to build on their success.

“In your first year you just don’t know what is going to happen,” said Heglar, who took over for long time head coach Dick Nicholl this season. “I am still impressed with the community support and the success of the younger kids is very encouraging. But they all need to stay involved during the off season.”

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