The Bainbridge Island Spartans got off to a slow start in their long-delayed gridiron opener, but a second half scoring explosion propelled them to victory down in Mason County.
Bainbridge’s balanced offense scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and two more in the fourth in a 39-18 league victory over Shelton on a windy Tuesday evening. The Spartan defense shut out the home team for almost three quarters and forced six turnovers.
Quarterback Gabriel Todd led the way, topping 200 passing yards and tossing three touchdown passes, and running back Cal Breen took charge on the ground with over 70 yards.
There were some understandable early struggles for both teams as they haven’t played since fall of 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Both the Spartans and the Highclimbers fumbled, but recovered on their opening possessions, and Bainbridge was stung by a couple of early offside penalties.
But fortunes turned midway through the second quarter when senior defensive back Austin Coupland came up with the first of his two interceptions. That turnover gave the Spartans good field position and soon after, Todd dropped back and hit Jack Mielke on a short pass that turned into a 26-yard catch-and-run for a TD.
Leading just 7-0 to start the second half, the Spartans forced a fumble on the opening play and turned it into another score. Breen led the way down the field with an 11-yard reception and a 26-yard run, in which he was brought down just shy of the goal line. Todd then connected with Coupland on an out-route for a 5-yard score to put Bainbridge up 13-0.
The Spartans stayed hot as Brian Taylor intercepted Shelton’s quarterback on the next possession, and Breen took another pitch for 29 yards, setting up Bainbridge just inside Shelton’s 5-yard line. Todd tossed his third TD as he found his big target Alan Ullin over the middle in the end zone from 4 yards out.
After Shelton fumbled the ensuing kickoff, it was Mielke who came up with another big play, taking a quick pass from Todd and running with it for 28 yards down to the 3-yard line. Mielke finished the drive with a 3-yard run, and the score was 25-0.
Senior running back PJ Miller was the next to find the painted grass for Bainbridge, scoring on a 4-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Junior defensive back Matt LeDorze capped off the scoring with a 35-yard interception return. It was the sixth and final turnover caused by the Bainbridge defense.
Gavin Gould scored all three Shelton TDs on runs of 3, 2, and 11 yards.
The Spartans won’t have much time to celebrate; they will hit the road Friday for another long trip, this one to Sequim. Game time is scheduled for 4 p.m.