Lindbergh locks up Seamount League with statement win over Kennedy Catholic
Eagles running back Daniel Wiitanen fueled his team with 260 yards and four touchdowns in a rare win over conference power JFK.
Special to The Seattle Times
RENTON — Lindbergh running back Daniel Wiitanen could not have scripted a better Senior Night: 22 carries, 260 yards, four touchdowns and a convincing 38-14 over Kennedy Catholic Thursday night at Renton Memorial Stadium.
Added bonus in the final regular-season game for both teams: The 9-0 Eagles, 6-0 in conference play and ranked No. 8 in Class 2A, are champions of the 3A/2A Seamount League, a title almost perennially owned by Kennedy Catholic.
“That’s a big win,” said Wiitanen, beaming after getting his first victory in four seasons over the Lancers (5-4 overall, 5-1 Seamount). “It shows not only other high schools, but other states that there’s a good team out here. This was televised (on ROOT Sports). People are going to see it. It shows we have talent over here.”
That talent, particularly Wiitanen’s, showed early as Lindbergh built a 19-0 lead early in the second quarter then saw its advantage trimmed to 19-14 with three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Eagles responded with three touchdowns, including fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 62 and 36 yards by Wiitanen, to clinch what coach Matt Leamer believes is only Lindbergh’s second victory over Kennedy Catholic in two decades.
“When we beat them five years ago; they told us that was the first time in, like, 15 or 20 years,” said Leamer, in his first year as head coach after serving seven years as defensive coordinator. “This feels real good.”
Leamer told his players after the game not to think of the outcome as an upset.
“Our kids have kind of expected this all year,” he said. “They keep finding a way to win. It wasn’t a surprise to these kids.”
Still, the quick 19-0 lead, built less than five minutes into the second quarter, was an eye-opener. On its first five possessions, Kennedy Catholic managed four just three-and-outs and a lost fumble.
Wiitanen scored Lindbergh’s first touchdown on a three-yard run less than four minutes into the game, set up by an 18-yard pass from Tyrell Shavers to D’Angelo Faust on fourth-and-14.
A 37-yard punt return by Faust led to a 16-yard touchdown run by Wiitanen in the first quarter. The Eagles opened the second quarter with a 10-play, 62-yard drive that concluded with a one-yard fourth-down run by Shavers after a fake to Wiitanen.
Kennedy Catholic suddenly zoomed to its first score on a four-play, 59-yard drive: three runs for 26 yards by Colin Cossette followed by a 33-yard pass from Damien Maricich to Nate Randall, who lost a shoe while making the catch.
An interception by Kennedy’s Andrew Ellingson in the third quarter led to a seven-yard scoring run by Luiz Diaz, cutting Lindbergh’s lead to 19-14 with 3:12 left in the period.
Shavers then marched the Eagles 66 yards in seven plays, hitting three of four passes for 53 yards before Devon Jackson finished it off with a five-yard touchdown run, giving Lindbergh a 25-14 lead seconds before the end of the quarter.
Wiitanen then broke loose for his back-to-back long runs in the fourth quarter, the second set up by an Brandon Mills interception, a his second pick of the night and his third takeaway, earlier forcing and recovering a KC fumble.
Both teams had already qualified for postseason play, Lindbergh in 2A and Kennedy Catholic in 3A. Wiitanen says the win certified Lindbergh’s football cred.
“We’re considered a small school,” he said. “Nobody ever takes us seriously. But until we beat Kennedy, we really haven’t done anything in our league. This shows we’re good enough to take ourselves somewhere, good enough to earn some attention, some respect. It means a lot to the school and the team. We all have friends over there (at Kennedy). Bragging rights will be fun for everybody.”
Cossette, the Seamount League’s leading rusher (168.4 yards per game entering the night), finished with 110 yards on 24 carries. Shavers completed eight of 16 passes for 149 yards, four to Jackson for 80 yards. John Williamson had two sacks, and Leamer called out the play of senior linebacker Trevonn Russell.
“Tre made all the calls on defense tonight,” he said. “Our defense was dominating.”