The Mercer Island Islanders football program attained one of its biggest goals in a road playoff tilt this past weekend.
The Islanders defeated the Kelso Hilanders 27-26 in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff game on Nov. 4 at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver. It was the Islanders’ first playoff victory since the 2005 season.
Mercer Island head coach Ed Slezinger, who is in his first season leading the Islanders football program, said winning a playoff game is a monumental achievement for the program.
“It is huge. We’ve had good fortune with the way players have played and the way the coaching staff is engaging with not only the players but the community around those players,” Slezinger said. “The school and the players have responded well and things are going terrific. At the end of the day, it (playoff win) is going to mean big things for the program.”
With less than a minute to go in regulation, Kelso scored a touchdown cutting Mercer Island’s lead to 27-26. The Islanders blocked Kelso’s PAT attempt, sealing a one-point victory.
“We actually got through and blocked the kick. It saved our butts,” Slezinger said. “We locked it down and shut down their PAT.”
The Islanders will face the O’Dea Fighting Irish in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Nov 10 or Nov. 11.
“They are just a solid team overall. They have a good program and their coaching staff is great. They’ve got some decent sized kids and good team speed,” Slezinger said. “It is not dissimilar to the things we typically see in our (KingCo) Conference. We’ve just got to handle our business and do the things that we do well.”