Sports

What a bunch of Mahony! Islander sets multiple school records with 351-yards rushing and six touchdowns

Sports reporting can get monotonous. There are only so many ways to win a high school golf meet, tennis match or basketball game. But once in a long while, one performance will stand above the rest. And once in a while, I find myself at a game that I know I will never forget. Friday’s Mercer Island football game against Seattle Prep fell into that category as a very empty and wet Islander stadium bore witness to Greg Mahony’s record-setting night of 351 yards rushing and six touchdowns. I have seen my share of great running backs at the high school level. I watched a kid named Ian Barron run for nearly 500 yards and eight touchdowns for Coupeville High School during my first year as a professional journalist. But in that instance, the school was at the 1A level of play and Barron played the entire game.

The Islanders play at the 3A level and Mahony had just one carry during the second half.

Now it takes more than just a great running back to amass those kind of stats — it takes an entire team and Mahony knows that.

“Our line was not that great at the beginning of the season,” said Mahony. “But they have progressed a lot. I couldn’t have done it with out their hard work.”

But a 351 yard game is more than just a great line. Mahony was bobbing and weaving in and out of defender’s grasps all night, with all of his teammates making key blocks.

“On a lot of those runs I didn’t get touched,” said Mahony.

That is true. But on a lot of those runs the defense could not keep up with the senior’s speed.

One play in particular sticks out in my mind. The Islanders began the second half of play at their own 13-yard line. Coming into the game most new that Mahony might have a shot at the school’s season scoring record. According to Mahony he was given one last drive to reach it — he only needed one play. A hand off round the left side sprung Mahony, but the Prep secondary was in position to stop him. Mahony used his blockers, turning defenders around and just good old speed to blaze to the end zone. I always try to do my job with decorum and stay unbiased but when Mahony reached the 50 yard line everyone, including myself, was yelling for himto get past the last defender. An 87-yard run is not a Mercer Island record. That belongs to Jeremy Curfew’s 98 yard scamper from 1999. But Mahony has plenty of his own now. He broke his own record from the previous week of 226 yards rushing in a game. He now holds the records for scoring in a season (140), breaking David Kirtman’s 2000 mark of 134. He broke Reggie Tate’s 30-year old record by scoring 41 points and six touchdowns in a game. Tate’s numbers were 30 points and five touchdowns. There are some numbers I just don’t have but I have to believe that Mahony’s 185 yards and four touchdowns in the first quarter has to be a school record, along with his 367 all-purpose yards from scrimmage. Amazingly enough, Mahony actually had a chance to set the school record for yardage in a season despite the fact that he didn’t gain many yards during the first three games of the year. Mahony finished with 1,209 yards rushing. Kirtman still holds the record at 1,381.

But with all the numbers and the huge 41-20 victory to finish the season, it was nice to see the sportsmanship that Islanders have become accustomed to with coach Dick Nicholl and his staff. Nicholl easily could have left Mahony in to shred the Prep defense for another 300 yards.

No, the focus was not on Mahony from the play-calling perspective. The senior had just 18 carries out of 43 plays run while he was in the game, despite the fact that he had just one play for negative yards and three plays of over 50 yards.

This has been a rough season, marked by routes going both ways. But Nicholl had a list of players to get into the game — young kids to get a little Friday night experience and seniors to feel the heat of the lights one last time — and he stayed true to that.

Easily lost in the Mahony hoopla could be the performance of Sam Bliss in the Islander secondary against the best quarterback in Metro. The sophomore had four tipped passes and two interceptions. There is hope for next year Islander fans, but the Mahony-factor was a great way to end this season.

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