Skyline falls short to Oaks Christian
California school wins the battle of national powers behind the arm of future Husky Nick Montana
Seattle Times staff columnist
SAMMAMISH — Playing with the confidence of a quarterback who's used to this situation, Skyline's Jake Heaps moved his team down the field one last time.
This drive looked like it would be something for the ages, the kind of drive we would remember as long as high-school football was played in Washington.
The clock was moving rapidly. When Skyline got the ball trailing Oaks Christian 28-25, there was 1:56 left and the Spartans had 76 yards to go.
This was exactly the game everyone had hoped for. A game that was living up to its enormous hype. A game that would be decided on the last drive.
Three hours before game time, cars already had packed into a huge church parking lot across the street from Spartan Stadium. People were tailgaiting as if this was Norman in November.
It was game night on the Plateau. The biggest game ever played here.
Two of the best of the next batch of ready-made, kid quarterbacks were on display. It was Jake Heaps vs. Nick Montana. Heaps from Skyline, who next season will be flinging for BYU. And Nick Montana, the Oaks Christian quarterback, who has orally committed to Washington.
This game was about the arms and the future, and the 4,400 fortunate fans that packed every cranny of the stadium, stayed and stood for more than three hours of the nationally televised game.
With actor Will Smith walking the Oaks Christian sideline cheering his son, wide receiver Trey; with Nick's father, Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana, and backup quarterback Trevor Gretzky's father, former NHL superstar Wayne, standing in the visitors' section in the last row on the 50-yard line, the game almost felt like it needed a red carpet.
This was where Oscar night met Friday Night Lights.
But in the final two minutes it was the players on the field who created the drama that matched the week's worth of chatter. The kids were on their own.
Heaps, playing with a bad cold that seemed to affect him early in the game, settled his team for one last march.
He was 30-0 as a quarterback at Skyline and he wasn't going to go quietly into this perfect Plateau night.
He hit his favorite target, junior Kasen Williams, in an Oaks Christian seam for 15 yards. And then threw long to junior Connor Brandt for 23 yards.
Heaps had been less than perfect all night. The flu and the moment seemed to rob him of some of polish. But on this last drive he was looking like everybody's all-American.
Until the last pass.
He was pressured. He felt like he needed to make a play. In hindsight, he should have taken the sack, but Heaps tried to throw the ball out of bounds, was hit as he threw and the ball helicoptered into the hands of Oak Christian's Max Napolitano.
With 49 seconds left, the drive died and Oaks Christian had a 28-25 win.
"You come into a big game and you got jitters, " Heaps said. "These guys are from California. It's a different kind of speed that we haven't seen before. We were just adjusting in the first quarter and after the first quarter, you saw us come back and adjust and make plays out there."
In the game within a game, Montana, who is 17-0 as Oaks Christian's quarterback, beat his good friend Heaps.
Both had their struggles. They are, after all, high school seniors, works in progress. Each made bad throwing errors that killed drives, but Montana finished the night with better numbers — 21 for 34 for 261 yards. He threw three touchdowns and two picks.
The many purple-shirted Washington fans, looking to a future without Jake Locker had to be impressed with Montana's gun of an arm. He was accurate and he was strong.
"I love the support up there," Montana said, speaking of the Huskies fans in the stands. "I saw a lot of purple and gold. It was a fun night. We came in here and to go against a team with guys like Jake, it's a great win. Obviously this is a good team and they gave us a run for our money."
Heaps who struggled early, was sacked twice and lost three fumbles. He finished 13 for 31 for 256 yards, one touchdown and three picks.
Maybe it was the flu that made him nauseous before the game, or maybe it was the moment, but he never seemed to settle into a rhythm. Skyline fell behind early 14-0 and Heaps had to play catch-up all night.
"He had a couple of mistakes," Montana said, "but we all had a couple of mistakes."
Jake Heaps made the final mistake. A throw he shouldn't have made, at the end of a drive that nearly was heroic.
Steve Kelley: 206-464-2176
About Steve Kelley
Steve Kelley covers all sports, putting his spin on matters involving both the home team and the nation.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 206-464-2176
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