Bellarmine coach Tom Larsen knew before the start of the season that he needed a few shoes to be filled to again put his team in contention for the state playoffs. If the opener against Peninsula was any indication, it seems as if the Lions will make noise again this fall. Lou Millie stepped in to replace the graduated Sefo Liufau and threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns, and the Lions’ defense held the high-powered Seahawks’ offense in check for a season opening 26-14 win at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 6.
“I was proud of our effort, especially in the second half,” said Larsen.
The Lions struggled to find an offensive rhythm early, and the Seahawks capitalized when Marque Kriebel hauled in a short screen and rambled 74 yards untouched down the right sideline to give Peninsula a 7-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter. Bellarmine would get the equalizer early in the second quarter when Millie hit a streaking Garrett McKay for an 80-yard touchdown down pass with 10:19 to go in the half.
“I felt pretty good out there and got rid of the butterflies, and the coaches showed a lot of confidence in me,” said Millie.
The Lions’ defense stood firm against Peninsula, and running back Avega Siolo, and Bellarmine Prep took the lead for good when Millie hit Drew Griffin in the back of the endzone for a 25-yard touchdown strike to give the Lions a 14-7 lead at the half.
“We got control of the game in the early part of the second quarter and our defense was outstanding the rest of the way,” said Larsen.
Leading 16-7, junior running back Nate Golterman took over. The 5-foot-7, 110-pounder would account for 61 yards, including a 16-yard run late in the third quarter for a 23-7 lead. The Lions would account for 336 yards of total offense, including 91 yards on the ground, which made Larsen and his staff happy.
“We were hoping for some balance tonight and we found some, which gives us a little momentum going into the Lakes game in Lakewood (on Sept. 13),” Larsen said. “It will be a tough one.”
Noting last year’s loss to Lakes at home, Larsen said it won’t be hard to get his team prepared to play the Lancers. “The only motivation they will need will be last year’s score at Memorial.”
By Steve Mullen
MILLER’S BIG GAME HELPS LINCOLN TOP BONNEY LAKE
Whenever the Lincoln Abes needed a big play in their season opener against Bonney Lake, Rayshaun Miller stepped up and provided it. The senior running back turned two short screen passes into long touchdowns and added a kickoff return for a score to help the Abes to a 25-7 win over the Panthers on Sept. 6 at Lincoln Bowl.
“We knew what he was,” said Lincoln head coach Jon Kitna, noting that Miller was hampered by a hamstring injury last year. “We’re glad to have him healthy and see what he is. He’s a dynamic football player.”
Miller gave the Abes a 7-0 lead with 4:03 left in the first quarter, taking a screen pass from Jordan Kitna on the right sideline and weaving back down the left sideline for a 40-yard touchdown to cap a nine-play, 77-yard drive. Bonney Lake quickly answered with an 11-play, 73-yard drive capped by Ethan McElderry’s one-yard touchdown run to tie it up early in the second quarter.
But Miller used his speed and quickness to strike again late in the first half, taking another screen on the right side, making a couple of juke moves and dashing 60 yards untouched into the end zone with 19 seconds until halftime.
“I just give it all to my line,” Miller said. “They were downfield blocking for me. When I’m in space I just do my thing.”
And Miller wasn’t done, as he received the opening kickoff of the second half and sprinted 95 yards nearly untouched for another score to give the Abes a commanding 19-7 lead.
Miller also had an impact defensively, adding an interception off quarterback Isaiah Weed to snuff out a Bonney Lake drive midway through the third quarter. The Lincoln defense was stout all night, as senior linebacker Ike Castro and junior cornerback Marcus Johnson delivered some crushing hits and junior Dehonta Hayes picked off Weed in the first half. The Abes limited the Panthers to just 143 yards from scrimmage.
“They paid attention to detail all week,” said Jon Kitna of his defense. “They played as hard as they could.”
But the night was not without first-game mistakes, as two touchdown passes from J’Maka Love to Kashawn Johnson – including a 43-yarder on the Abes’ first offensive play – were negated by penalties.
“This is our term: it’s understandable, but it’s totally unacceptable, if we want to play to our ceiling,” Jon Kitna said. “We’ll fix it.”
The Abes salted the game away late in the fourth when Jordan Kitna connected with Dionte Simon on a 31-yard out-and-up route on 3rd-and-1. Kitna, in his first varsity start, finished 14-for-29 for 244 yards and three scores, with one interception.
“I thought he let the football go and moved in the pocket great the whole night,” Jon Kitna said of his son’s effort. “I thought he got into the game early.”
Alvin Johnson had four catches for 59 yards for the Abes, while Love had four catches for 39 yards.
By Jeremy Helling
For blog updates on this weekend’s featured games visit The Sideline Sports Blog at http://www.tacomaweekly.com/sideline.