Gridders outlast Crusaders, qualify for districts

Nick Miller tries to tackle O’Dea’s Tatum Taylor. - Brad Camp/for the Review
Nick Miller tries to tackle O’Dea’s Tatum Taylor.
— image credit: Brad Camp/for the Review

View Chris Bell's run here:

Bainbridge head coach Andy Grimm said at halftime of its game against Eastside Catholic Thursday that they may have to score 50 points to win.

“I guess I was pretty close,” he said.

Though they didn’t need that many points, it was five Eastside turnovers and a fantastic performance by junior quarterback Chris Bell that helped put the Spartans over the Crusaders 45-43 Thursday night at Eastside Catholic High School in the Metro League regular season finale.

The win gives Bainbridge the third and final playoff spot out of the Mountain Division. They play Nathan Hale at 7:45 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Seattle.

Bainbridge raced out to a 17-7 lead on a 50-yard run by Alex Crane and a 41-yard pass play from Bell to Carson Zajonic.

The Crusaders scored three times in the second quarter to close the gap to 31-24 at halftime. Eastside then scored twice more on touchdown runs by Chevy Walker and Jake Springfield, but failed to convert the extra point on one of their scores.

Corey Touchette scored on a 16-yard jaunt in the fourth that ended up being the game-winning score. Walker scored his second touchdown of the game, but the Crusaders didn’t convert the two-point attempt.

Alex Copland intercepted a pass in the end zone on Eastside’s last attempt at a score as time expired.

Grimm said the game reminded him of Bainbridge’s 44-41 win over North Kitsap back in Sept. 2004 when Grant Leslie threw for 258 yards and five touchdowns.

Bell threw for 158 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 114 yards and another score.

“Bell had one of the better individual efforts we’ve had in the last few years,” Grimm said. “He didn’t come off the field for one play, even special teams. He’s making runs, he’s making plays at corner and he threw the ball very well.

Bell said their play action game was the big key for Bainbridge.

“It was clicking,” he said. “Their corners would come up and our guys were wide open up and down the field. We had a lot of big plays.”

Now their focus turns to the Raiders.

Grimm said Nathan Hale is an exact mirror of their team, right down to the Wing-T offense and the running of Nick Castoriano, who is close to a 1,000 yard season.

He rushed for 285 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-27 win over Ingraham last week.

“Based on the (game) film, they don’t have the threat of passing like we do,” Grimm said. “But it’s a nice looking team. Their coach (Hoover Hopkins) has done a real nice job since he took over. When we came into Metro in 2001, they were at the bottom, but he’s done a great job.”

Grimm also said depending on how long the other games go that day (there are four games scheduled at Memorial Stadium), they may play later than their scheduled time.

“We’ve got to have that mindset that we might not play until 9 p.m.,” he said. “It might be nasty weather as well, which is fine. We can grind it out.”

Grimm said they might not have Corey Touchette, who is questionable with a mild concussion.

Bell is the starter for the remainder of the season as Zajonic has a tendon strain in his elbow. Grimm said he can still play in the secondary as the injury does not affect him there.

The winner takes on the top seed coming out of Kingco next week, which may be Bellevue, Liberty or Juanita depending on how those teams do Friday night.

The loser takes on the number one seed from the Narrows League, which is Capital.

Capital shut out O’Dea 28-0 in the first game of the regular season.

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