Mercer Island Islanders running back Jordano Mark wasn’t going to let a sprained knee derail him from competing in the biggest game of the season to date.
Mark, who didn’t practice on halloween due to the injury, had four rushing touchdowns in Mercer Island’s 28-7 victory against the Redmond Mustangs in a loser-out tiebreaker playoff game on Nov. 1 at Juanita High School in Kirkland.
Mercer Island improved its overall record to 5-5 with the win while Redmond dropped to 3-8. The game took place due to a three-way tie between Interlake, Mercer Island and Redmond at the end of the regular season. All three teams were 2-3 in KingCo 3A league play. Interlake defeated Redmond 27-14 in the first game of the night to clinch the KingCo #2 seed in the playoffs. Mercer Island clinched the No. 3 seed from KingCo with the win against Redmond. Both games consisted of just two quarters of football. Redmond was eliminated from postseason contention by the Islanders. Mercer Island head coach Brett Ogata was impressed with Mark’s performance with the season on the line.
“He (Jordano) is a kid who couldn’t even practice yesterday. He was just limping around. He just battles and battles. It is nice to have a kid on your team who can just make it happen. We can give him the ball and we know he is going to make guys miss and he is going to run over some guys,” Ogata said. “He worked hard and earned this.”
Redmond head coach Jason Rimkus was impressed with Mark’s running ability.
“He ran over our best kids,” Rimkus said. “The kids were there to make the plays. Mercer Island was just better than us.”
While Mark dominated on the offensive side of the ball, the Mercer Island defense surrendered just one touchdown against Redmond. With Mercer Island ahead 14-0, Redmond quarterback Teryn Berry connected on a 22-yard touchdown strike in the back of the end-zone to wide receiver Bradley Cagle with 10:26 left in the game. It was the first and only time Redmond scored in the contest. Mercer Island outscored Redmond 14-0 in the final 10 minutes to seal the victory.
“They’ve really come on strong the last two games. They are playing at a different level, a different intensity and a different energy,” Ogata said of his defense. “That makes all the difference in the world in high school football. We are playing for each other and that makes a huge difference.”
Mark concurred with Ogata’s assessment.
“I have never been on a team with a group of guys as close as this team is. It is really special,” Mark said. “The mindset is to play for each other. We are brothers out here and we want to leave a legacy. You have to have that mindset that you believe you can make it happen.”
The Islanders will face the Bonney Lake Panthers in a winner-to-state, loser-out playoff contest on Nov. 5 in Sumner. It is the first time the Islanders have advanced to the playoffs since the 2013 season.
“It is exciting to be in the playoffs. We haven’t been there for awhile. Actually the last time we were in the playoffs we played Bonney Lake. Hopefully the result is a little better than last time,” Ogata said. “Our kids are battling and are playing hard. We will be ready to go.”
Rimkus was proud of his team’s showing in the final contest of the 2016 season.
“I told them that we (coaching staff) were really proud of their character. We battled. We got down and we had opportunities to make plays but we just didn’t quite make them. The guys didn’t hang their heads, they kept fighting,” Rimkus said. “That is all you can ask for. They did the best they could.”