LAKE STEVENS — With 11.5 seconds remaining in the football game between Lake Stevens and Kamiak Friday night, Vikings coach Tom Tri couldn’t bear to look.
Tri had just seen his team let Kamiak drive 46 yards from its own 11 into field goal range. Kamiak kicker Chris Menghini had already made
two perfect extra points and two field goals on the evening, including a 37-yarder, and this attempt would be the game-winner for the Knights.
“I didn’t even watch,” Tri said. “I just watched him (Menghini).”
Menghini had the distance and tried unsuccessfully to use body English to will the ball through the uprights, but it sailed wide left. Menghini’s lean was all Tri and the rowdy Vikings fans needed to see in order to celebrate the 21-20 nonleague victory.
“He’s plenty capable of hitting that he’s done it many times,” an emotional Kamiak coach Dan Mack said. “He’s a terrific kicker. He just came up a little short this time.”
Though the game means little in the standings, the environment felt like November at Lake Stevens High School Football Field. The only way to tell this wasn’t a playoff game was the balmy kickoff temperature in the 80s.
Lake Stevens (2-0) survived two fumbles that both led to Knight scores and a Kamiak (1-1) kickoff return for a touchdown that opened the second half. It was quite a departure from Lake’s 70-6 dismantling of Cascade a week ago.
“I hope we grow from it,” Tri said. “These are the kind of games that you need if you are going to be good later in the season and have a shot to win some games in the playoffs.”
The Vikings won on the strength of quarterback Jake Nelson, who rushed 13 times for a game-high 125 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 15-for-25 passes for 119 yards. The Vikings fumbled twice but Nelson had zero turnovers.
“We are going to win with our quarterback and he showed for two weeks in a row that he is clearly the leader of our offense,” Tri said.
Kamiak’s Brett Ludeman filled in admirably once again at quarterback for the injured Anthony Berg, who missed his second game recovering from meniscus surgery. Ludeman completed 15-of-23 passes for 132 yards and a score.
“I’m really proud of Brett,” Mack said. “He’s prepared for this moment, he worked hard.”
Ludeman worked hard on the Knights final drive, hitting Quinn Carlson on a hook and lateral that ended up in the hands of Mylz Dixon, who streaked down the Lake Stevens sideline. Two passes later he had the Knights where they needed to be to win the game.
“It was great high school football teams,” Mack said. “Two teams playing their hearts out. We just came out on the short end.”
After taking the opening kickoff the Vikings took 10 plays to grind out 65 yards, capped by a fourth-and-1 TD-run by quarterback Jake Nelson from the 6-yard line.
Kamiak wasted no time responding, scoring in just five plays. The big one coming from Dixon, who broke out for 43 yards on his team’s second play from scrimmage. Ludeman made good on his first pass attempt of the game, rolling out on a naked bootleg to find Mason Chalifant rolling with him toward the left side of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown strike.
Juan Delgado fumbled the ball away on Lake Stevens’ next play from scrimmage and the Knights took advantage, taking the lead on a Chris Menghini 38-yard field goal to make the score 10-7
Nelson made a spectacular play to make sure the Knight lead was short lived. The Viking QB dropped back to pass and was flushed from the pocket, spun away from multiple defenders and burst down the sideline for a 72-yard run to give Lake a 14-10 edge.
After being stuffed in the first half, Lake Stevens’ Shea Giddens found room to run in the second, racking up 52 of his 58 yards including the game-deciding 8-yard touchdown run.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Kamiak 10 0 10 0 — 20
Lake Stevens 14 0 0 7 — 21
L–Nelson 6 run (Sellars kick)
K–Chalifant 10 pass from Ludeman (Menghini kick)
K–Menghini 38 Field Goal
L–Nelson 72 run (Sellars kick)
K–Bethea 89 kickoff return (Menghini kick)
K–Menghini 27 Field Goal
L–Giddens 8 run (Sellars kick)
Records–Kamiak 1-1 overall. Lake Stevens 2-0.