Spartans' playoff dreams end at districts

BHS running back Alex Crane blasts through the Lindberg line during playoff action Friday in Renton.  - Brad Camp
BHS running back Alex Crane blasts through the Lindberg line during playoff action Friday in Renton.
— image credit: Brad Camp

When the Spartans left the field after a season-ending loss to Lindbergh last week, coach Andy Grimm focused on the team effort that earned the Spartans their first post-season appearance since 2006.

“Most of the time spent in there was to get the seniors to talk about their experience in the program and to give a chance for the younger and older guys to talk,” Grimm said. “We’d be together for a banquet, but as far as our last time together as a 2009 group, that was it. I wanted to make sure we would take time doing it.”

The Spartans (2-3 in the Metro, 5-5 overall), who had defeated Rainier Beach in the Metro playoffs on Oct. 31, committed seven turnovers in their 44-6 loss to Lindbergh (8-0 in the SeaMount, 9-1 overall) in the district playoffs.

“We would have had to play error-free Friday to be in that game,” Grimm said.

Bainbridge took the early 6-0 lead in the first quarter when Alex Johnson scored on a four-yard run. But Lindbergh, led by freshman quarterback Matt Stuart, rebounded by scoring 44 unanswered points and claiming a berth in the state 3A playoffs.

Trailing 32-6 to start the second half, the Spartans had an opportunity to regain the momentum when the Eagles fumbled a kick-off return. Bainbridge recovered on Lindbergh’s 8-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs.

Despite making some defensive stops and preventing the Eagles from scoring in the third quarter, Bainbridge couldn’t get back in the game offensively.

Seniors Johnson and Josh Peters led the Bainbridge offense with 59 rushing yards apiece.

“It was a combination of turnovers, not dealing with the weather very well, and playing a good team,” Grimm said. “Roll those into it, and the outcome was pretty indicative of our play.”

Junior quarterback Carson Zajonc, who was sacked six times against Lindbergh, will be one of the key pieces to the Spartan offense next season.

Zajonc completed 31 of 53 passes this season, with six touchdowns and six interceptions.

The Spartans will graduate quarterback Jordan Wagner, who started the first half of the season before injuring his shoulder. Wagner completed 32 of 63 passes for 497 yards.

Sophomore Chris Bell, who took a few snaps on Friday, will add depth to the quarterback position.

“The kids realize they have a nucleus coming back,” Grimm said. “But we’ve got work to do – that’s getting faster and stronger, and figuring out who that feature running back is going to be.” Johnson, who led the Spartans with 1,084 yards and 12 touchdowns, leaves big shoes to fill, Grimm said.

Alex Crane and Corey Touchette are two contenders to fill that void, Grimm said. Crane, the third-leading rusher this season, had 60 carries for 349 yards and four touchdowns, while Touchette carried the ball 40 times for 144 yards.

“We like to have somebody we can give it to 15 to 20 times a game,” Grimm said. “Maybe that’s one of those guys, maybe that’s a younger guy.”

Defensively, the Spartans will contend with the loss of Jason Haley, the team’s leading tackler.

Despite the Spartans’ lopsided district loss, the team’s post-season contests have helped prepare its returners for next season.

“We knew this year again what we were lacking was game experience,” Grimm said. “Kids have been in varsity action here and there. If anything out of this year, those kids got experience.”

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