By Justin Gimse
We all know that incredible matchups on paper will often turn out the opposite result. When we looked at the high school football schedules before opening weekend, it seemed like an easy pick for the second week of coverage. A non-league contest pitting two perennial state playoff teams is pretty much a no-brainer, so we rolled on out to Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood for what we hoped would be the sort of game that already feels like the playoffs.
The Bellarmine Prep Lions had completely different plans.
On paper, the Bellarmine versus Lakes clash should have been a titanic battle. Instead, the Lions of the 4A South Puget Sound League took apart the Lancers of the 3A Pierce County League pretty much from the opening whistle to the final horn.
After an expected 27-6 victory over Rogers on opening weekend, the Lions were going to be put to the test by the Lancers and their blazing speedsters.
Instead, the Lions outraced and outpaced the home team, quieting the Lakes crowd early, and then coasted to what looked like an easy 30-6 tune-up victory. If Bellarmine is going to be able to compete with the juggernauts in the 4A SPSL like Sumner and Graham Kapowsin, this was the sort of win they were looking to get. With just four playoff spots available for what looks to be five top-notch teams, Bellarmine is going to find themselves in a playoff race that may not be decided until their final game of the year, on the road against Puyallup on Friday, Oct. 27.
For Lakes, the loss will be a reminder of starting a game on-point and sharp. The Lancers looked disjointed from the opening snap, and never really found their groove. As it was a non-league event, the setback should have much impact on the Lancers, other than setting them up to be better prepared for their PCL league schedule.
When the regular season comes to a close, Lakes is going to be in the mix for one of the five state playoff berths out of the PCL. Whether the Lancers can get their engine firing on all cylinders in time for their road game against the defending champion Lincoln Abes on Friday, Sept. 22, is a big question mark.
Bellarmine put the first points on the scoreboard early, only to have them wiped away with a penalty. Senior Christian Brown returned a Lancer punt 72 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back nullified the score and the Lions went to work on their own 40-yard line. Seven plays later, sophomore quarterback Marcus Stowers scrambled to his left, found an opening, and dove across the goal-line for a seven-yard touchdown. Bellarmine led 7-0 with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter.
After three possessions, the Lions began what amounted to a 92-yard, 15-play drive that was capped by a halfback pass from Brown to senior River Modarelli in the end-zone. Bellarmine now led 14-0 with 8:48 left in the second quarter. The Lancers then coughed up the football on the first play of the next possession and Bellarmine went to work from the Lakes’ nine-yard line. Four plays later, the score was 17-0, following a 26-yard field goal by junior Nick Kokich, with 7:14 remaining in the half.
The whammy would hit Lakes again on the first play of the next drive, as junior quarterback Liam Bladow lofted a pass into double coverage, only to have it intercepted by junior Luke Weller. Working with a short field again, Bellarmine needed just three plays to make the score 23-0, as sophomore running back Darion Summers beat the Lancer defense to the corner for a four-yard touchdown.
Going into the locker rooms, much of the air at Harry Lang Stadium had left the Lancers’ sails and despite an 80-yard touchdown reception by senior Cody Roe in the third quarter, there didn’t seem to be a momentum shift for Lakes. Bellarmine would close-out the scoring on the night on the heels of a 70-yard touchdown scamper by Stowers to cap the game’s scoring at 30-6.
Up next for Bellarmine is a home game against Olympia on Friday, Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. The Lancers will open PCL league play against the Wilson Rams the same night at Stadium Bowl. Kick-off is also 7 p.m.