The Lake Stevens football team was dealt a significant blow in its regular-season finale two weeks ago when Conor Bardue suffered a broken hand that likely ended his season.
That left the Vikings without their standout senior quarterback for last week’s Week 10 playoff game.
For most teams, that would be a dire predicament.
Not for Lake Stevens.
Tre Long filled in and rose to the occasion, completing 18 of 25 passes for 245 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in his first varsity start. His performance helped the Vikings to a 51-0 win over Kentlake that advanced Lake Stevens to the state playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
“He did a tremendous job of following our game plan, finding open receivers and making our offense tick,” Vikings coach Tom Tri said.
Even more impressive was that Long had mere days to prepare for the playoff start.
Long, a junior, played quarterback during youth football and was Bardue’s backup last year. But this season, in addition to starting at linebacker, Long moved to receiver to combat a lack of depth at the position.
On top of that, Long had missed three consecutive games because of an illness before returning to action last week.
“He didn’t get any reps at quarterback this year until last week,” Tri said. “He literally had two offensive practices to get ready for Kentlake.”
Tri said Long spent extra time before and after practice last week studying film and delving into the game plan.
“He knew he had big shoes to fill,” Tri said. “He worked hard for those few days, just trying to understand what the game plan was all about. And he went out and executed it really well as a result.”
Lake Stevens (9-1) had the benefit of surprise last week with regard to Long starting instead of Bardue. That won’t be the case Saturday night when the Vikings host Graham-Kapowsin in a first-round state-playoff game.
Yet while that presents an extra challenge, Tri said he’s excited about the added dimension of Long’s speed and athleticism.
“We’re in a limited playbook,” Tri said. “We’re not opening it up probably as much as we would if we had Conor. But I still like Tre’s ability to be athletic and make plays with his feet when they’re not there with his arm.
“He’s a little bit quicker in and out of the pocket (than Conor), and he’s got some athleticism and running ability. So that’s going to present some other problems for Graham-Kapowsin.”
Here’s a look at Saturday’s first-round state-playoff games involving local teams:
GRAHAM-KAPOWSIN (9-1) vs. LAKE STEVENS (9-1)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday
Where: Lake Stevens H.S.
Graham-Kapowsin: 2nd in South Puget Sound League 4A; beat Todd Beamer 31-0 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Eagles: Graham-Kapowsin’s high-powered offense is led by junior quarterback Dylan Morris, a four-star recruit who has committed to the University of Washington. Morris has completed 68.8 percent of his passes this season for 2,651 yards, 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His favorite target is senior Tre Mason III, who has 1,030 yards receiving and nine touchdowns catches. The Eagles average 42.3 points per game and allow 16.8, with their lone loss coming in a 34-27 defeat to South Puget Sound League 4A champion Puyallup. Graham-Kapowsin is making its fourth consecutive state-playoff appearance and is seeking its third trip to the state quarterfinals during that span.
Lake Stevens: 1st in Wesco 4A; beat Kentlake 51-0 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Vikings: Filling in for injured quarterback Conor Bardue, junior Tre Long made his first varsity start under center last week and threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns in a Week 10 playoff rout of Kentlake. Senior standout Anthony Hutchinson leads the Vikings with 646 yards receiving in six games, and senior receiver Austin Murren has a team-high 14 touchdown catches. The backfield tandem of senior Kayshawn Mounarath and junior Tom Lewis have rushed for a combined 1,457 yards and 19 touchdowns. Since a Week 2 non-league loss to Arlington, Lake Stevens has won eight consecutive games by an average of 42.1 points per contest. The Vikings are making their sixth state appearance in seven years and are seeking their fourth trip to the state quarterfinals during that span.
Recent history: Lake Stevens beat Graham-Kapowsin 49-14 in the 2015 state quarterfinals.
Herald pick: Graham-Kapowsin
OAK HARBOR (9-1) at BELLEVUE (9-1)
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Bellevue H.S.
Oak Harbor: 2nd in Wesco 3A North; beat Seattle Prep 21-3 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Wildcats: Oak Harbor allows just 12.9 points per game and has held five opponents this season to seven points or less. Senior fullback Mackenzie Nuanez leads the Wildcats’ Wing-T rushing attack with 1,080 yards and 14 touchdowns, including 133 yards and a score in a Week 10 playoff win over Seattle Prep last week. Oak Harbor’s lone loss was a one-point overtime defeat to unbeaten Ferndale. The Wildcats are seeking their second trip to the state quarterfinals since winning the 4A state title in 2006.
Bellevue: 1st in KingCo 3A/2A; beat Hudson’s Bay 51-20 in Week 10 playoffs
About the Wolverines: Perennial powerhouse Bellevue, which won 11 state titles from 2001 to 2013, is back in the state playoffs after the second year of a two-year postseason ban was lifted earlier this season. The initial ban was levied after an investigation found the football program had committed wide-ranging violations of Washington Interscholastic Activities Association rules. The Wolverines’ Wing-T rushing attack is led by Isaiah Ifanse, the top-ranked senior running back in the state according to 247Sports. Ifanse, who has offers from Navy and Air Force, has rushed for 1,881 yards and 33 touchdowns this season and averages 10.3 yards per carry. Bellevue has won nine straight games since a season-opening loss to Richland, last year’s 4A state runner-up. The Wolverines allow just 12.7 points per game and have held every opponent this season to 24 points or less.
Herald pick: Bellevue