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Sunday, September 05, 2004 - Page updated at 03:32 P.M.
High School Sports
By Matt Peterson
They made history last night at Qwest Field. Jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring history.
In a high-school football shocker of national proportions, the Bellevue Wolverines absolutely dismantled the country's top-ranked team, De La Salle of Concord, Calif., sending the mighty Californians home with a thorough 39-20 beating in front of 24,987 at the second annual Emerald City Kickoff Classic.
Bellevue's victory laid low the Spartans' high-school record 151-game win streak a streak that dates to the start of the 1992 season and instantly lifted the Wolverines to a position of national prominence.
"I don't think words can describe how I feel," said senior center Jordan Hebert. "This is the best feeling, definitely, that I've ever felt."
So how did they do it?
A better question would be how did they not do it?
Bellevue controlled almost every aspect of last night's game, running at will, and turning what might have been the most anticipated high-school game in state history into what, at times, looked like just another KingCo Conference 3A romp.
The Wolverines never punted and never passed. They scored on their first seven possessions and held the vaunted Spartans scoreless in the second half.
They hit hard and they hustled and they made virtually no mistakes. Just the way Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said it had to be done.
In all, it was a team effort.
When the showdown with De La Salle was announced last winter, the Wolverines made a commitment to this game like none they had ever made. Goncharoff read every article and book he could find on the Spartans. He and his staff dissected film. And the players, from the superstars to the special-teams fill-ins, committed eight months of their lives to the cause. This is how it would have to be. That much they understood.
In the end, with a shocked crowd watching in stunned disbelief, the Wolverines were rewarded.
They rushed the field, throwing helmets in the air, dancing on the giant Seahawks logo at midfield.
The crowd offered a standing ovation.
And the Spartans, classy to the end, responded with typical grace, shaking hands with the Wolverines in a slow-moving line that stretched nearly the width of the field.
For the record, "The Streak" died at 11:32 p.m.
"We've been training for them the whole last year," said sophomore quarterback Eric Block, still only 14 years old, yet mature enough to rush 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown in his first varsity start. "We were the only ones who believed in ourselves."
Some said the Spartans were more vulnerable this year than any season in recent memory. The team returned only three starters. It lacked multiple big-name recruits. And it endured a difficult offseason that saw head coach Bob Ladouceur suffer a heart attack, and Terrance Kelly, a star on last year's team, gunned down Aug. 12 in Richmond, Calif.
All of that might have been true.
But don't underestimate the resolve and determination of the Wolverines.
"We're the only ones in the stadium who thought we'd win this game," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "We knew we'd have to outwork them and we did."
The Wolverines charged from the tunnel at 8:39 p.m., rushing madly toward the South goal post, gathering at its base in a bobbing, shouting frenzy. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come.
At the other end of the stadium, the Spartans, having taken the field first, didn't look to blink, and continued moving methodically through their warm-ups.
Most of the stadium's lower bowl was filled before kickoff, with dozens more fans seated in the aluminum bleachers rising behind the North end zone.
Eight months of build-up finally broke at 9:07 p.m., when Bellevue kicker Tim Nienaber scooted the opening kickoff toward the De La Salle end.
The Spartans wasted no time exerting their will. Starting on their own 14, they marched the length of the field behind a precise and efficient offensive line, scoring on a 45-yard scamper by Eduardo Lopez with 8:02 remaining in the first quarter. Lopez carried four times on the eight-play drive for 66 yards.
He finished with 15 carries for 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
But the Wolverines responded on their first play, handing off to Hasty who ran into the heart of the defense, then popped out the other side, racing 74 yards for the touchdown.
"When Hasty scored right after that," said junior lineman Steve Schilling, "we knew we could hang with these guys and have the opportunity to win."
Back and forth it went.
Hasty scored on a 1-yard run. Lopez answered with a 44-yard touchdown burst. And the score, with 11:52 remaining in the first half, stood locked at 13.
Bellevue scored the next 10 points to take a 23-13 lead late in the second half. The first six of those points came on a 37-yard run by Block. The rookie quarterback, carrying for the first time in a varsity game, dived across the goal line with the last of several would-be tacklers dragging from his legs.
De La Salle took a rare misstep on its next possession, fumbling on the center exchange. Bellevue's Kyle Stanford recovered near midfield.
Seven plays later, Nienaber atoned for an earlier missed extra point with a 33-yard field goal.
Matt Peterson: 206-515-5536 or email@example.com
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