Sports

Spartans don't roll over in Clover Park

"In three plays, Teddy Picha showed off the the skyscraping highs and soul-shattering lows of being a first-year football player.Picha, a junior wide receiver and defensive back, patrolled the right side of the field on Clover Park's last two plays against the Bainbridge High School football team in Tacoma Friday night.The Spartans were ahead 13-6, but Clover Park was deep in blue-and-gold territory, looking for the squaring score before its Homecoming crowd as time drained short - a second-and-10 situation at the Bainbridge 25-yard line.Clover Park quarterback Christian Tommervik, determined to test Picha's prowess, threw to wide receiver JR Wells - but Picha, reading the play all the way, masterfully slapped the ball away to set up third-and-10 with 12.6 seconds left.This time, Tommervik reached into his bag of tricks, rolling left on the snap with his primary receivers. Picha followed the crowd, not seeing tight end Ronnie Hayden slip away to the right corner of the end zone on a fade route.Seconds later, it was touchdown, Clover Park - making the score 13-12 with no time remaining.Warrior coach N.B. Long then made a gutsy call, electing to go for a two-point conversion and an outright win or loss, rather than settling for the higher-percentage extra point that would send both teams into a Kansas City overtime tiebreaker - each team getting four downs from the 25-yard line to score.Again, Tommervik dropped back. Again, he looked for Hayden in the right corner of the end zone.This time, Picha had perfect position - and leaped for an interception that saved the savory 13-12 Pierce County League win for Bainbridge.Not bad for a burgeoning basketball-and-baseball guy who, before this season, had never played organized football.It was all a blur after the guy caught the TD - it was my man, and my half of the field, Picha recalled. I couldn't really believe it.I wanted a little redemption.He got it - as did Bainbridge, which, with its third win of the season, is in line for its best season in four years with a season-closing win this Friday against Sequim.Perseverance, Bainbridge coach Andy Grimm told his troops after the game. We now know what perseverance is all about. There are a lot of guys on this club who stand for perseverance.Picha's heroics were only the start of that perseverance throughout the game.There were the two first-half touchdowns that Bainbridge scored, but didn't get. Early in the second quarter, the Spartans appeared to close a 71-yard march with Clayton Hallum's floating pass to Picha in the deep right corner of the end zone. Picha's feet appeared to be inbounds as he came down with apparent possession of the ball - but an official ruled that he was bobbling the ball when he hit the ground and the ball spilled loose.Bainbridge followed with a short field-goal try by Jeff Tracy that was blocked following a flubbed snap to the holder and hesitation move by the kicker. Tracy later got a measure of payback by pressuring the Clover Park kicker into a miss on his conversion attempt following the first score of the game in the third quarter.Late in the first half, however, Bainbridge appeared to have scored once more when Hallum capped an 87-yard drive with a fourth-down keeper plunge from Clover Park's six-inch line. Though the ball appeared to have broken the plane of the goal line, the officials ruled otherwise and gave the ball to the Warriors.Hallum later got the score back with a 17-yard swing pass to Lance Mazey for the eventual winning score.It was redemption as well for Mazey, whose senior season has been hampered by injuries. Healthy and productive on offense from start to finish for the first time this season, Mazey came with the healthiest and most productive offensive numbers of his Spartan career - 22 rushes for 101 yards and four catches for 32 yards, including the score.Everyone came in overconfident, thinking it would be easy - which is something you just can't do in football, Mazey said of the 1-7 Warriors. But we've worked really hard, and we deserve it.The numbers bear it out.The running game, further established with each contest, piled up 256 yards - abetted by Andrew Linne's seven rambles for 85 yards on counter plays and Clayton Wiggins' 11 carries for 57 yards, including a one-yard sprint in the third quarter for Bainbridge's first score.Hallum had his most efficient game at quarterback, completing 7 of 10 passes for 63 yards. Two of the incompletions were perfect passes dropped by receivers.Junior Scott Burkland keyed the first scoring drive with a kickoff return from the goal line to the Bainbridge 44.Picha's feats were just the beginning of the heroics from a fleet-footed defense. Gary Duffner, Stefan Peter-Conteese, Liam Corey and Burkland all recorded pass deflections at key moments, and junior P.J. Holton headed the hit parade with eight solo tackles and two assists from his linebacker position, and Duffner contributed six primary tackles.Chris Mandell, Josh Fisher and Peter-Contesse each pressured Tommervik all night long from their defensive line positions, and Mandell and Fisher registered sacks.I love this, defensive coordinator Jim West enthused in the postgame cooldown. We go into hostile territory, and we come out with a win.Bainbridge, now 3-5, wraps up its season Friday night at home against winless Sequim.Bainbridge JV game canceled: The Spartans lost a game Monday afternoon when opponent Port Townsend canceled the contest, citing a need to call up several JV players for its final varsity contest. "

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