Happy Homecoming -- Spartan gridders win

Spartan running back Kenny  Walker (right) leads Ballard
Spartan running back Kenny Walker (right) leads Ballard's Matt McGiboney in a race for the end zone. Walker scored two touchdowns Friday night, the second with only seconds remaining in the homecoming game.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

As Friday’s game against Fife wound down and running back Andy Aversano’s energy level stayed up, a spectator turned to his mother Diane and asked loudly, “What did you feed Andy this week?”

“Apple strudel and pizza” was the Spartan junior’s response as he stood at midfield later, accepting congratulations for a 114-rushing-yard, three-touchdown game that also included an interception, eight tackles and a pair of two-point conversions.

Aversano was dominant in the Spartans’ 34-21 home victory. But though his evening included the team’s longest run from scrimmage – a 50-yarder for a touchdown early in the third quarter – his shortest run might have been even more vital.

With Bainbridge clinging to a 28-21 lead with just under three minutes remaining, the Spartans got a poor spot from the officials on Kenny Walker’s third-down run to set up a fourth-and-one situation at the Fife 45. Spartan coaches opted to go for the first down rather than punt the ball away.

“We knew they were able to put points on the board in a hurry,” coach Andy Grimm said.

Aversano took the handoff from quarterback Clayton Hallum, started to his right, was hit in the backfield, but broke the tackle to turn upfield and make the necessary yard.

Six plays later, Kenny Walker cut inside to his left and romped 21 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Hundreds of jubilant fans swarmed onto the field to celebrate the Homecoming win.

“The kids played well,” Grimm said. “We did a good job taking advantage of turnovers.”

Though the Spartans couldn’t cash in following the first Fife turnover – cornerback Teddy Picha tipped a pass into Aversano’s hands and he brought it back 34 yards – they proved to be more opportunistic moments after turning the ball over on downs at the Fife 15.

A Trojan running back broke into the clear but fumbled the ball without a Spartan within five yards and Marc Rasmussen fell on it at the Fife 39.

Keyed by Kenny Walker’s 24-yard double reverse on third and 10, the Spartans scored at 1:51 when Aversano burst through a big hole off right tackle for five yards. The PAT was no good.

Midway through the second quarter, the Spartans moved 77 yards on a 10-play drive. Nearly half the yardage came on Gary Duffner’s 22-yard sweep around right end and a Fife personal foul penalty. Aversano went the final five yards, then added three more on a two-point conversion.

But a long kickoff return set up a Fife touchdown with 1:03 remaining in the half, and the Trojans scored again with 12 seconds remaining after an interception to narrow the score to 14-13 at intermission.

“We let them back into the game,” Grimm said.

Fife took the second half kickoff but the defense held and Michael Wauters returned the ensuing punt 33 yards to midfield.

On first down, Aversano headed over right tackle, broke a couple of tackles, nearly stumbled as he cut back to his left but regained his balance and outran the defenders down the left side. The PAT was wide right as Bainbridge led 20-13 at 8:58.

On their first play, Fife fumbled at their own 30 and Rasmussen recovered.

Hallum found Walker wide open at the five and although taking the hit of the game, hung onto the ball. Walker broke several tackles to score on the next play. Aversano picked up his second two-point conversion to give the Spartans a 28-14 lead with 4:30 remaining in the third quarter.

But the Trojans weren’t done. Aided by running into the punter and roughing the passer penalties, Fife got as far as the Bainbridge 15 before the Spartan defense stiffened. After a Bainbridge punt, the Trojans went 56 yards in 11 plays for their third touchdown and added a two-point conversion to narrow the score to 28-21 with 4:29 left to play.

Teddy Picha felt the force of a dozen Fife feet as the senior wide receiver was buried under a sea of white jerseys after taking the onside kickoff, but held onto the ball. Aided by Aversano’s crucial fourth down run, the Spartans ran out the clock and the game concluded with Walker’s touchdown.

Chad Wagoner led the team with 19 tackles, while P.J. Holton added sixteen. Peter Mandell, Chris Pierce and Aversano all had tackles for losses.

Tackle Jarrod Hinton took a certain grim satisfaction in helping to generate an offense that not only produced what Aversano termed “my best game by far” but also accounted for nearly 300 yards on the ground. Duffner rushed for 84 yards and Walker chipped in 82.

“They trash-talked pretty bad,” Hinton said of the Trojans. “We came out a bit flat, but after halftime we stepped it up. We took it to ‘em and showed them what Bainbridge Island football is all about.”

Bainbridge JVs 34, at Rainier Beach JVs 12 – The second quarter of Monday’s game proved decisive as Joe Picha threw two touchdown passes of 12 and 45 yards to Michael Ersser and Derek Houston ran 12 yards for a third score.

Zach Ainsley had a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, while Tyler Bural ran 25 yards for the Spartans final tally.

Bainbridge frosh 28, Eastside Catholic frosh 22 – The Spartans built a 28-8 halftime lead against the visiting Crusaders on Saturday and held on for the win. Quarterback Grant Leslie was 7-of-12 passing for 132, with touchdown passes of 28 and 25 to Angelo Ritualo and an eleven-yarder to Blake Jensen. Zach Smith scored on a two-yard rush. Tim Patmont led the team with 10 tackles.

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