Stout defense powers Glacier Peak to 24-20 victory over Lake Stevens
Special to The Seattle Times
LAKE STEVENS – They set off the offensive fireworks early and often to open the 2013 WesCo football season on Friday.
But in the end, it was a stellar defensive effort that catapulted 3A Glacier Peak past 4A Lake Stevens, 24-20, before a raucous crowd at Lake Stevens High.
“I think it was more mental,” Glacier Peak coach Rory Rosenbach said. “The guys take great pride in how they play defense.”
Glacier Peak overcame the first of two Branson Corwin interceptions to score twice in the first quarter. But staked to a 14-0 lead after Trey Chambers caught his second scoring pass — a 9-yarder to go with an earlier 15-yard strike — from Corwin, the Grizzlies (1-0) seemingly couldn’t stand prosperity.
Just over three minutes later, the game was tied at 14.
First, the Vikings (0-1) quickly drove 80 yards in just seven plays. Gavin O’Neil culminated the effort with a nifty 41-yard run to make it 14-7 on the first play of the second quarter.
After Glacier Peak failed to convert on a fourth-and-4 from the Lake Stevens 38-yard line (Corwin was sacked at his own 47), Jacob Eason found Tevin Gray racing down the middle on the Vikings’ next play, and Gray outran the Glacier Peak defense for a 47-yard touchdown reception and a tie at 14 still with 9:39 to go in the half.
But that would be the high point for Lake Stevens.
The Vikings, picked by league coaches to win the 4A WesCo North Division this season, continued to move the ball. But Glacier Peak, picked to win the 3A South, and its defense found the answers.
Late in the second quarter, defensive back Justin Guffey made the first of two standout plays. The sophomore, playing his first varsity game, sniffed out a pass attempt with just over two minutes left in the first half.
“I saw the guy coming out at me,” Guffey said. “Then he stopped and waited. I just jumped the route and took it to the house.”
Guffey intercepted Eason’s pass in stride at the Lake Stevens 43. He sidestepped one man, and raced down the side of the field into the end zone for a 21-14 Grizzlies lead.
After the half, the Glacier Peak defense continued to shine.
The Grizzlies forced a fourth-and-11 at their own 15, and Lake Stevens missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt by kicker Ignacio Ponce.
Three plays later, the Vikings had the ball back at the Grizzlies 11 after Riley Krenz intercepted Corwin again.
But again, the Grizzlies defense held, forcing another 32-yard field goal attempt by Ponce. And again, the kick went wide right.
“We gave up some yards, but we made the plays when we had to,” Rosenbach said. “They knew they had to step it up.”
The missed field goals would prove costly.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Spencer Pettit was more successful for Glacier Peak. With the ball sitting at the Lake Stevens 35 on fourth down, Rosenbach asked a question most high school coaches won’t from there.
“I figured I might be the biggest idiot in the stadium,” Rosenbach said. “But he makes them regularly in practice.”
Rosenbach went to his kicker.
“Ro came over and asked me if I could do it,” Pettit said of the 52-yard field goal attempt. “I told him I could.”
Bravado aside, Pettit went out and did do it. He pounded a high ball that started to die as it got to about the front of the end zone. But Pettit’s kick had enough on it to get over the cross bar with 6:01 to play for a 24-14 lead.
“I was pretty nervous,” Pettit said of the longest field goal of his high-school career. “But when I hit it, I knew it had a chance.”
With 4:57 left, Lake Stevens made it interesting on Austin Otis’ 17-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 24-20. But the Vikings had a procedure penalty called on them and had to re-kick the point after.
Guffey made the Vikings pay. The sophomore sprang free through the line and blocked the kick to keep it a four-point game that ruled out any chance at a tying field goal attempt later.
Lake Stevens got one last chance with 55 seconds left. But the Vikings couldn’t traverse the 62 yards needed, and the Grizzlies got the opening victory.