Skyline dominates Skyview, 38-7, en route to school's sixth state football title | Slideshow
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
December 19, 2011 · Updated 9:52 AM
The belief never left Skyline.
Not after a tough loss to Bellevue.
Not after surrendering 400 rushing yards seven touchdowns to one player in their loss to Lake Oswego.
Not after losing to Plateau rival Eastlake for the first time in school history.
"We got into the playoffs with a 6-3 record, it wasn't pretty, but we still knew we were the best team in the state," junior quarterback Max Browne said. "We knew we could get there."
The Spartans got "there" Saturday night, soundly defeating Skyview of Vancouver 38-7 for the the program's fourth state title in the last five years and sixth overall championship.
Browne, who quarterbacked to Spartans to last year's runner-up spot, came through big in his second go-around at the Tacoma Dome. The junior completed 15 of 22 passes for 222 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Everything I dreamed of, ever since I watched my brother (Mitch) win the state title ... it's a dream come true," Browne said.
While the offense was key to jumping out to a 17-0 halftime lead, it was the defense that set the tone. Facing a team who averaged 280 pounds across the offensive and defensive lines, the much smaller Spartans controlled the flow of the game early.
"Coming out and playing our game with a different mentality, we wanted to shut them out," said junior linebacker Peyton Pelluer. "It was the best game we could play at the right time and worked out great."
Skyline held Skyview to 97 total yards in the first half, and star running back Parker Henry to just 24 yards on nine carries. He ended with just 34 yards.
"We knew they were big up front," said 5-foot-11, 240 pound senior lineman Austin Owen. "We just had to grasp that fact ... we just got it done up front."
Skyline scored on the game's opening drive on Sean McDonald's 24-yard field goal.
The Spartans added to their lead on the first play of the second quarter, via Damian Greene's 25-yard scamper up the middle. Browne connected with Mason Gregory later in the quarter on a perfectly timed 35-yard bomb, helping Skyline to a 17-0 halftime advantage.
Skyview didn't lay down.
The Storm appeared to find a rhythm with 5:44 left in the third quarter when quarterback Kieran McDonagh found Reiley Henderson for a 32-yard TD. Three plays after kicking the ball back to Skyline, Skyview intercepted Browne and marched deep into Spartan territory.
Greene ended the threat, picking off McDonagh at the Spartans' 20. Skyline answered with a uncharacteristic drive that broke the will of the Storm. On a 12 plays, the pass-heavy Spartans rushed the ball 11 times, eating up 6 minutes and 34 seconds of clock. Jack Valencia capped the drive with an 11-yard TD and a 24-7 lead with 4:49 to go.
"That drive ... was just unbelievable," Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said.
Skyline converted two more interceptions into touchdowns late in the fourth quarter. Browne hit Trevor Barney for a 34-yard TD after Matt Sinatro's pick of McDonagh. Valencia then returned an interception 73 yards for a TD with under a minute to go.
Skyline finished its season with an 11-3 record, winning its final six games.
"We got through it together as a brotherhood," Pelluer said. "We came together after the Eastlake loss and we knew we needed to figure something out. As you can tell, we did."
The adversity made the win that much sweeter for Taylor, who has now coached the Spartans to three titles.
"This is the best it's ever been," Taylor said. "Where we started ... these kids never doubted anything. They knew with hard work it would pay off and after the Eastlake game, the kids just had a belief, you could just see it in their eyes."
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.