The Bainbridge High School football program, already celebrating its best start in over a decade, marched onto the turf of Kitsap County rival Olympic Sept. 22 craving a fourth-straight win.
The Spartans got that and a lot more, shaking off a rocky start to power their way to a 45-3 blowout.
It was the ugliest game in the eight years the two have met on a football field. The series had previously been notorious for its close one-score games, including last year’s 16-13 Olympic win.
While not present for that defeat, first-year BHS coach Dan Schoonmaker knew some of his older players went in looking to settle some unfinished business. “We try to downplay that ‘cause, you know, every game is important, and you don’t want to go in with emotion. You want to go in prepared and with a plan, but I’m pretty sure they felt that way.”
Success would not come immediately for the Spartans, who turned the ball over in their first two possessions via a fumble by junior quarterback Jack Grant and a blocked punt. The latter miscue set up Olympic for a 36-yard field goal.
The turnovers could have easily defined the rest of the game as they did last year, but Schoonmaker said he was still waiting to see whether his team had arrived loose and prepared or just loose and cocky. “I went and challenged them before the game,” he said. “I said, ‘I don’t know if you’re this or if you’re this but go out and prove it to me.’”
He got his answer on the very next drive via a lengthy march down the field, capped off by a rushing touchdown by junior running back Garrett Goade.
Special teams got the Spartans right back on the field after a botched kickoff return led to a Bainbridge recovery, and although they could not capitalize on the turnover, it was a sign that momentum had begun to shift in the direction of the Spartans.
Bainbridge got its next set of seven points soon after thanks to a two-play drive, both resulting in wide-open completions. Junior wideout Isaac Sellers hauled in the latter of the two passes from Grant, giving his team a 14-3 lead.
Schoonmaker said it could have been 21-3, but admitted he made some bad play calls. But he was confident going into the second half. “We’re a team, so far, that plays better second halves. Our kids, despite bad coaching, did well tonight.”
Bainbridge avoided a major scare in the early part of second-half action. Grant took a heavy shot and medical personnel surrounded him as the sideline went silent. He was helped up and walked off on his own power, just having the wind knocked out of him.
“We thought it was more serious,” Schoonmaker said. “Jack doesn’t go down.”
Grant would ultimately return to play, but for one down freshman QB backup Nathaniel Putman unleashed a dime of a pass to Sellers, landing his team in the end zone and leaving his coach speechless. “I’d say it makes up, a little bit, for my crap series,” he said, smiling.
From then on, the second half was all Bainbridge. A combined pushing attack between halfback and quarterback, along with the occasional passing connection, kept the Trojan defense backpedaling the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the Spartan defense dominated, its pass rush making things uncomfortable all night.