Islanders defensive back Ethan Boyle makes a one-handed interception in the first quarter of their 12-3 loss to Issaquah. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

Islanders defensive back Ethan Boyle makes a one-handed interception in the first quarter of their 12-3 loss to Issaquah. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

Inspired defense not enough for Islanders

Mercer Island lost 12-3 at home to the Issaquah Eagles.

An inspired effort from the Mercer Island defense wasn’t enough in their 12-3 loss to the Issaquah Eagles.

In front of an energetic crowd at Islander Stadium, Mercer Island was handed their first loss of the season in a defensive showdown. For senior linebacker Owen Baebler, losing in front of the home fans was difficult.

“You gotta sit in front of a bunch of fans who came out to watch you play and you kind of feel like you let them down,” Baebler said.

The Islanders got on the board first in the first quarter with a 35-yard field goal to put them up by three. The drive for the Islanders began after a spectacular one-handed interception by cornerback Ethan Boyle.

The Eagles tied the game up in the second quarter after a 32-yard run from running back Isaac Pak. Issaquah would add another field goal late in the quarter to take a 6-3 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, both teams traded big plays on defense and special teams. The Islanders special teams unit came up big when Baebler blocked an Issaquah field goal attempt to keep a three-point game.

Mercer Island caught a break when the Eagles fumbled a snap on a punt, giving the Islanders the ball at their opponents 34-yard-line. The momentum from the special teams play was short lived for Islanders. On the first play of the ensuing drive, an Islanders pass was intercepted by Issaquah defensive back Cutter Hillock. The Islanders offense threw four interceptions on the night which proved costly.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles would add two more field goals to finish the scoring. Islanders head coach Ed Slezinger said the team has time to improve on the offensive mistakes to get their season back on track.

“Offensively, we have some things we need to sharpen,” Slezinger said. “Thankfully we’re still in the non-conference (schedule) so we have some time to work on it.”

Slezinger said the defense played inspired football all night, keeping the Eagles out of the end zone despite the Islanders offense turning the ball over four times.

“Our guys played their tails off,” Slezinger said. “Even after giving up the ball on our side, the defense just did a fabulous job. When they saw the offense struggling a little bit, the sidelines are talking about getting the ball back to the offense and giving them an opportunity and finding ways to get them excited. Their play was inspired from that emotional state.”

The Islanders will look to get back on track against the Newport Knights (0-2) on Friday, Sept. 20, at Newport High School. The Knights lost their second game of the season 32-3 to the Bellevue Wolverines. Baebler said if the team can patch up the offense next week, the Islanders can really get going.

“I think we just hit practice with a fresh mindset, it’s flushed, it’s a new game,” Baebler said. “We just have to regroup and get back at it and see what happens.”

Mercer Island defensive tackle and guard, Bryce Fitzwilson, runs onto the field carrying a flag before the game on Sept. 13. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

Mercer Island defensive tackle and guard, Bryce Fitzwilson, runs onto the field carrying a flag before the game on Sept. 13. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

The Mercer Island defense tackles Issaquah running back Aiden Barnes in the Islanders 12-3 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 13. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

The Mercer Island defense tackles Issaquah running back Aiden Barnes in the Islanders 12-3 loss to the Eagles on Sept. 13. Benjamin Olson/ staff photo

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