The Bainbridge High School football squad’s season came to an abrupt end Saturday, Nov. 2 when the Spartans (4-4) were bested 28-7 on the road, in the first round of the playoffs, by Rainier Beach (1-7).
By the numbers, the Spartans were expected to win — and they very nearly did.
“Bainbridge won the first half 7-0, but Rainier Beach adjusted very well and played hard in the second half,” said BHS spokesman John Devlin.
That, along with some crucial players being sidelined by injuries and some reportedly disputed calls on the part of game officials at key moments, ended the Spartan’s postseason run and continued the strange streak that had defined their regular season as well: The island squad just couldn’t pull off a win on the road this year.
They won every game they played at home, and lost every one they played away.
Though the previous two years were technically better overall (5-3 in 2018-19 and 5-4 in 2017-18, the team’s best records in recent memory) this year saw a noticeable elevation in the team’s overall performance, a trend which, having begun last year, saw an unprecedented amount of interest and excitement surround the program this season, a feeling justified by Metro League officials, too.
In light of last year’s showing, which saw the Spartans in the mix come playoffs for the first time in many seasons, the island squad was advanced to the more competitive Sound Division of the 3A Metro League. It was a major turning point for the previously long-struggling program, which at the start of the previous season was included among the ranks of a newly created third division within Metro, the Valley Division.
The adjustment was hailed by school officials at the time, and promised to effectively level the regional football playing field for the Spartans, who had historically struggled to compete against the selective programs at Seattle private schools.
But BHS Head Coach Jeff Rouser said nuts to that.
Returning this year for his fourth season at the helm, the top Spartan said his squad would settle for nothing less than the most skilled competitors they could get — that they were ready to keep earning their spot in the better bracket.
Thus, though their record was technically one-game shy of previous heights, the Spartans did notch wins against a higher class of competitor and still managed a playoff appearance, giving coaches and players much to celebrate, and, presumably, much to look forward to next year.
“This is an outstanding group of kids who worked very, very hard this year,” Devlin said. “They were elevated to a tougher league, fought hard, and still made the playoffs.
“I am going to miss watching them play.”
Against RB, some of the usual stellar Spartans led the pack, as well as a few lesser known names, too.
The team’s sole touchdown was scored on a 9-yard run by junior Jack Mielke.
The Spartans rushed a total of 229 yards, led by senior Charlie Hughes (76 yards).
Senior Alex Ledbetter racked up 46 yards; Mielke, 44; junior Cal Breen, 27; and senior Franco Abularade, 21.
The Spartans passed 85 yards total, led by junior Gabe Todd who managed 5-for-9 and 32 yards.
Reception-wise, the squad was led by junior Brian Taylor, who finished the night with two catches for 44 yards.
Defensively, it was senior John Devlin who led the day with eight tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, seven QB hurries, and multiple assists as well.
Senior Matthew McCann managed seven tackles, one tackle for loss, one sack, and multiple assists; senior Sio Peato had four tackles, one tackle for loss, and multiple assists; Mielke five tackles, one tipped pass, two QB hurries, and multiple assists; Abularade four tackles, one interception, and multiple assists; Taylor five tackles and multiple assists; and senior Elliott Weaver three tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, one fumble recovery, two QB hurries, and multiple assists.