Spartans fend off feisty Cougars, win KingCo title

The mighty Skyline Spartans proved they were human Thursday night.

Kasen Williams of Skyline High School pulls in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps with just 1:56 left on the game clock. This TD led the Spartans to glory

Kasen Williams of Skyline High School pulls in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Jake Heaps with just 1:56 left on the game clock. This TD led the Spartans to glory

The mighty Skyline Spartans proved they were human Thursday night.

They also showed nearly 4,000 fans at Spartan Stadium, along with a national television audience watching on ESPNU, they can come through in most pressure-filled situations.

“We’re a team that’s never going to give up,” junior quarterback Jake Heaps said. “When it gets down to the nitty-gritty — when we face adversity with our backs against the wall — I think that’s when you see us perform at our best.”

Trailing Bothell 12-9, with 5:09 left in the contest, Heaps led the Spartans on a 71-yard touchdown drive that sealed a 16-12 victory and the KingCo 4A championship.

“It’s definitely one of those opportunities where you see what kind of team you have,” Heaps said.

The junior quarterback, whose list of college suitors includes Notre Dame and USC, was 4-for-5 on pass attempts on the final drive. He also lunged forward for a big yard on a fourth-and-1 from the Bothell 36 with 2:25 left in the game. Heaps’ largest play, however, came when he pumped-faked to the sideline then threw a laser to sophomore Kasen Williams in the right front corner of the end zone. Blanketed by a defender, Williams looked toward the center of the end zone, stopped, and dove toward the front pylon to haul in a 16-yard touchdown with 1:56 on the clock.

“We kept running short hitches and we had designed to set him up for that …,” Williams said. “It was a good throw. Obviously (Jake’s) a good quarterback. He read the corner well— it was a good pitch and catch basically.”

The Cougars received two more possessions. Starting from their own 35 with 1:55 to go, Bothell was unable to contain defender Grant Engel, who broke through the Cougar line and sacked quarterback Mitchell Muller. The ball came loose, right into the hands of Rob Tramonte. Skyline failed to run the clock out, however, committing two costly penalties that allowed Bothell to get the ball back on their own 37 with 13 seconds remaining. Engel and Michael Stead caused havoc again, however, sacking Muller to run out the clock.

Engle, who was celebrating his 18th birthday said, he couldn’t think of more fitting gift.

“I got to spend it with my whole family,” he said. “Even back in Iowa they got to see me play. It’s just a great birthday present, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Skyline, which hadn’t faced a deficit all season, trailed twice Thursday. Bothell broke a 3-3 tie with 7:55 remaining in the second quarter when Patrick Otterbech ran straight up the middle for a 25-yard touchdown. A blocked extra point left the halftime score at 9-3.

The Spartans responded on their opening drive of the second half, going 70 yards on five plays. Heaps completed the drive, connecting with Williams for a 33-yard touchdown down the right sideline. Scrambling to his left, Heaps managed to avoid three tacklers and look back to his right and throw across his body to find an open Williams in the end zone. The PAT missed wide right, leaving the score 9-9 with 9:59 to go in the third. Bothell took the lead again with 5:13 left in the game when kicker Nick Kaylor booted a 39-yard field goal through the uprights.

The Cougars, who had 123 yards of total offense in the first half, were held to 46 in the second half. Otterbech, who had 87 yards in the first half, was held to 10 in the second half.

“We didn’t really change anything,” Engel said. “We just came out more physical than we did in the first half.”

Skyline amassed 333 yards of offense. Heaps was 18 of 31 for 264 yards with two TDS and two interceptions. He only had one going into the game. Williams had nine catches for 186 yards, and Nick Washburn carried the ball six times for 48 yards in the second half.

“It was great” said Spartan head coach Mat Taylor of winning the KingCo title on national TV. “The thing that’s fun is that coach (Chad) Barrett and I and the kids got to know some people abroad when we went down to New Orleans, so I’m sure that some of them were probably watching.”

Prior to Thursday’s game, Skyline had outscored opponents 337-14 along with five shutouts. The first-team defense hadn’t given up any points and two of the points allowed came via a safety.

“It brings us back to reality, it lets us know, ‘Hey we’re not invincible,'” Heaps said. “From here on out you’re going to see us work on it harder than ever in practice.”

Skyline vs. Graham-Kapowsin

Kickoff: 7 p.m., Saturday at SHS

Quick look: Graham-Kapowsin (6-3) started out hot, but has lost three of its last five games. The Eagles, who finished fourth in the SPSL South, will run and throw the ball. Running back Chris Ratteray is 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds and has the bulk of carries with 600-plus yards. Quarterback Jeff Logan has completed just over 50 percent of his passes for close to 1,000 yards, 11 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Prediction: Skyline has home field advantage and the defense will be hungry for redemption after allowing 12 points in its last game against Bothell. Final score: 42-6 Skyline.

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