A learning experience for the MI football team

Islanders rack up a 20-3 lead on Mount Si, give up 34 unanswered points in loss

Islanders rack up a 20-3 lead on Mount Si, give up 34 unanswered points in loss

By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter

Playing with a lead is different than playing from behind. In football, controlling time of possession instead of making mistakes and knocking an opponent out the of game on the scoreboard is what all teams must learn how to do.

The Islanders got their first lesson in playing from the lead on Friday as they built a 20-3 advantage late in the second quarter. But one big penalty, missed opportunities and the loss of momentum cost the team as it gave up 34 unanswered points, losing to Mount Si 37-20.

“During the first half the kids played as well as they could,” said Mercer Island coach Bill Heglar. “But we were in uncharted territory. Our tank was half empty during the second half.”

No amount of practice could replicate the feeling of the Islanders’ first sustained offensive success that the team experienced during the first half.

Islander Phillip Seda ran around, through and past the Wildcats defense for 125 yards and a touchdown during the first half, along with 31 yards and a touchdown through the air.

“We had some great blocking,” said Seda. “I am a down-hill runner and this is a team game.”

Seda’s first big run came on the fifth play of the game. Taking a hand off from Hollowed and following his blockers, Seda reached the outside and ran down the Mercer Island sideline. Seda then cut back to the middle of the field to complete the run for 47 yards.

The run set up teammate Graham Maxwell for a three-yard touchdown run three plays later.

The Islanders and Cats exchanged possessions before Mount Si scored on a 36-yard field goal.

Unfazed by the score, Mercer Island put together an eight-play 80-yard drive. Five different offensive players touched the ball, including a 20-yard pass from Hollowed to Tyler Reutimann and a 23-yard run by Seda for a touchdown. A high snap on the extra-point attempt left Mercer Island with a 13-3 lead.

The Wildcats began their next possession on their own 40. Islander Jack Harrison came up big by putting his helmet on the football following a 10-yard pass, causing a fumble on the first play of Mount Si’s drive. Again, Mercer Island would capitalize by putting together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by Hollowed’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Seda.

But the Wildcats made sure the Islanders knew the game was not over, scoring five plays later on a 30-yard pass play and then again late in the quarter on a 21-yard pass play.

“It wasn’t an issue of overconfidence,” said Mercer Island starting quarterback Thomas Hollowed. “We lost all momentum. We just have to practice harder.”

With less than three minutes on the clock, Mercer Island took possession on its own 14-yard line and began moving the ball with running plays. But as the second ticked away, the Islanders held on to all three of their time-outs.

“We wanted to get it down to one or two plays, and we did,” said Heglar. “We just didn’t get it in the end zone.”

Mercer Island moved the ball all they way down to the Wildcats’ 44-yard line before an interception ended the drive and the first half of play.

Mount Si took the ball to start the second half and moved it down to the 19-yard line. On third down and nine, Mount Si’s quarterback threw the ball into the end zone, setting up an apparent field-goal attempt. But penalty for roughing the passer gave the Wildcats a first down on the six-yard-line.

“We came out horrible during the second half,” said Seda. “It was a defensive failure.”

Mount Si scored a touchdown on the very next play to take its first lead of the game 24-20.

“The second half was spotty,” said Heglar. “We have tackled a lot better.”

Tackling seemed to be a big issue on the Wildcats’ next score, a nine-yard touchdown run. Mount Si scored one more touchdown. The Islanders didn’t gain more than six yards on one play until their final possession of the game. Three long-pass plays on that final drive seemed to be too little too late as they came two yards shy of a first down and gave up possession with less than a minute to play.

On defense, Seda led the Islanders with eight and a half tackles, and Graham Maxwell and Alex Myerson combined for a quarterback sack. Hollowed finished the game 10-for-13 with 170 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“He is a good leader,” said Heglar. “He doesn’t look like it, but he is a tough kid.”

Along with Seda’s 88-yards receiving, Reutimann quietly hauled in 75 yards on three catches.

Mercer Island will travel to Sammamish High School on Thursday for a 7 p.m. kickoff and a shot at the team’s first win of the season.

The game is being played on Thursday instead of the normal day, Friday, in observance of the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur.