Mercer Island can’t stop Newport running game
By Matt Phelps
Mercer Island Reporter
Everybody has a bad day every so often in which nothing goes the way it’s planned. That happened to all 56 Mercer Island High School football players on Friday as Newport steamrolled the home team 38-0.
“You always have to be ready to play, and this is how high school football goes sometimes,” said Mercer Island football coach Bill Heglar. “But we will have a serious talk this week about playing being a privilege, not a right.”
During the first half, the only thing that Mercer Island seemed to have the right to do was kick the ball away. Islander Jack Gala saw punting duties six times in the first half, compared to just three first downs earned by the Islander offense during the same time frame.
Newport finished the first half with 241 yards rushing on 20 attempts for an average of 12.5 yards per play, scoring a touchdown on their first three possessions of the contest. The team’s fourth possession lasted just one second as they recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a 28-0 lead. A 32-yard field goal and a one-yard touchdown run gave Newport all the points they would need.
“We just have to come ready to play, and we didn’t do that tonight,” said Heglar.
The Islander offense sputtered during the first half, gaining a total of 40 yards. Mercer Island senior running back Phillip Seda, who ran for 226 yards against Sammamish during the previous week’s game, finished the first half with just two carries for three yards. But none of the Mercer Island running backs had more than four carries during the first half.
“They had things pretty well stacked up against us,” said Heglar. “We got the ball to the right people.”
Mercer Island finally held the Knights to a three-and-out to start the second half. The Islanders then began to move the ball by gaining a first down. But the team gave up the ball on a fourth-and-one that they could not convert.
A penalty-riddled second half saw Mercer Island gain four first downs but no points. The biggest offense play of the game came on a second down and four yards to go as Seda finally broke free of the Knights for a 51-yard gain. The run more than doubled the team’s total offense. But an interception three plays later ended the optimistic drive.
About the only positive to come from the night for Islander fans was the High School’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies during halftime. Mercer Island graduates Timmy Chung, Julia Rindlaub, Lindsey Adams and Chad Dierckx were bestowed with the honor.
The loss to Newport makes any hope for a Mercer Island playoff berth bleak despite the fact they have four in-league games remaining on the schedule.
With six of nine league teams ahead of them in the standings, and only three playoff spots available to 3A KingCo, Mercer Island would have to win all four remaining in-league games and get a lot of help. That up-hill battle will start this Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bellevue High School as the Islanders will take on the defending state champion Wolverines.