Spartans pound Blanchet, 35-14

Scott Burkland (top of pile) and Spartan teammates gang up on Blanchet running back Marcus Partman during Friday evening play. Strong defense early and late keyed the 35-14 victory. - JESSE BEALS photo
Scott Burkland (top of pile) and Spartan teammates gang up on Blanchet running back Marcus Partman during Friday evening play. Strong defense early and late keyed the 35-14 victory.
— image credit: JESSE BEALS photo

From a scoring perspective, Spencer Evans beat the Blanchet Braves by himself.

The senior running back tallied four touchdowns in his home-field finale, leading the Bainbridge gridders to a 35-14 win Friday evening.

“I was just doing everything I could to make my last (home) game memorable,” Evans said, “and everyone else’s.”

Fans were treated to an exciting contest in which the Spartans ran out to a big lead, weathered a comeback bid by Blanchet, then pulled away for the win.

Solid defense and special teams play led to a pair of early scores by the Spartans.

Evans’ first-quarter sack of Blanchet quarterback Matt Johnson forced a fumble that was recovered by Spartan Peter Mandell deep in Braves territory.

Given the ball on first down, Evans raced around right end untouched, finding the end zone from 27 yards out.

It was the same story on the ensuing Blanchet drive – this time, Mike North swooped in from the left side to block a Braves punt. A chase for the ball ensued, with Mandell recovering again on the Braves’ 1 yard line. Two plays later, Evans trotted in from the left side for his second score.

Senior Robby Furth was next to get into the act, capping a 10-play, 82-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run. Furth powered in behind the blocking of Nick McCallum, and a successful kick gave the Spartans a 21-0 lead as time expired in the first quarter.

That’s when it got interesting.

Blanchet’s robust backfield duo of Marcus Partman and Matt Briones spent the second quarter hammering the ball between the tackles, as the Braves strung together several long drives.

Partman found paydirt with 8:39 left in the frame, and quarterback Johnson found a receiver alone in the left flat for an easy score with less than a minute left in the half.

“I think in the second quarter we were kind of thinking ‘this game’s over,’ and we weren’t really playing like we should have been,” Evans said. “That gives the other team an opportunity to come back, and they did.”

The Spartan defense was also hurt by the loss of linebacker Andy Aversano, sidelined by an injury midway through the period.

But the defense came out after halftime with a renewed sense of purpose, with North and Chris Pierce ganging up to stuff Braves runners on several key plays.

They were abetted by two David Underwood interceptions, one of them a highlight-reeler.

Caught in single coverage in the right flat, Underwood flew out of nowhere to tip a pass away from a Blanchet receiver, then catch the ball himself on the way down.

The Spartans started the fourth quarter with the ball on the Blanchet 37, thanks to a partially blocked punt by Mike Ersser.

On the first play of the drive, Evans went left on an inside reverse and raced to the end zone.

The final score came after Blanchet’s Johnson threw short into a trio of defenders, from which Spartan Liam Corey emerged with the ball.

Bainbridge then caught the Blanchet defense flat-footed, with quarterback Joe Picha hitting Evans over the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike with 4:13 left.

Running back Scott Burkland finished with 63 yards on 14 carries, while Evans had 121 all-purpose yards. Picha was six of nine passing for 107 yards.

North and Burkland anchored the defensive effort with 12 tackles each, while Evans and Liam Maher were in on nine.

The win moved the Spartans’ record to 3-2 in league play, 5-3 overall. But Eastside Catholic’s win over Seattle Prep the same evening eliminated Bainbridge from playoff consideration.

The Spartans conclude play Friday, with a 3 p.m. contest against Chief Sealth at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium.

– Douglas Crist

Lions march

in, kickers out

Like a gladiator’s nightmare, the Lions of Lakeside trounced the Spartan girls soccer team, 6-1, in a match-up at Memorial Stadium Monday.

The loss puts Bainbridge third in the Metro League and out of further competition.

The Spartans didn’t go out without a fight, as the first half of the game was nearly a stalemate.

Junior Catherine Powers delivered excellent saves in goal, and impressive shots on offense were fired off by junior Tucker Huget, freshman Courtney Bell and sophomore Kylie Izzi.

The stalemate was upset in the 33rd minute with a score from Lions forward Lucy Strong, ending the half at 0-1.

“I was really impressed with our play in the first half,” Spartan coach Mark Grindrod said. “Even after that the half everyone was still really positive.”

Things shifted in the second half when in the opening minute Lakeside midfielder Teryn Allen scored on a feed from a corner kick.

Seven minutes later, Powers – in her first game back with bruised ribs – stopped a ball and a charging Lion, precipitating her replacement in goal by Jackie Danzig.

From there, the Spartans had to battle both the Lions and their own Achilles’ heel, as Lakeside notched two more goals on corner kicks.

“We definitely have trouble with our corner kicks, both on offense and defense,” Grindrod said. “We’ve had more goals scored (on us) from corner kicks than any other way this season.”

Although Lakeside went on to score twice more, Bainbridge saw a bright spot with a goal from Kyle McFarlane in the 74th minute, preventing a shutout.

Both coach and players seemed quite happy with their performance for the season and look forward to the next few years and its wealth of young talent.

“There’s not a single player here who has regrets,” McFarlane said. “I think we’ve got all the things you can’t teach about soccer...we just need to put it all together (next season).”

– Jim Meyers

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