LAKE STEVENS — As the Lake Stevens High School football machine powered through its Wesco 4A schedule, routinely hanging 60- and 70-point scores on opponents, the Vikings thrived on big, chunk-yardage plays.
Dallas Landeros’ highlight-reel runs, ridiculous athletic plays by Kasen Kinchen and beautiful deep passes from Tanner Jellison were regular Friday night features.
Three plays, just three. That’s how many Viking plays went for 20 or more yards during Lake Stevens’ 4A state tournament quarterfinal game Saturday against Mount Si.
The No. 3 Vikings were largely forced to grind out drives, made critical mistakes they couldn’t overcome in a nail-bitter and suffered a shocking season-ending 24-22 loss to No. 11 Mount Si at Lake Stevens High School.
“Made too many mistakes today — turnovers, missed blocking assignments, missed tackles, missed coverages,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “You can’t do that against a good team. They are well-coached, and they made a few more plays than we did and that was the difference.”
The loss brought a sudden end to what was a special season for the Vikings (11-1), who had been rolling opponents by an average of 45.6 points per game.
The state appearance was the Vikings’ sixth straight in a year the team was hoping to get back to the state championship after losing in the 2018 title game.
“It’s the little things that make a difference, and we’ve been talking and preaching that all year long,” Tri said. “You got to be able to execute. … Mount Si, they did a good job of keeping the ball in their hands and keeping our offense off the field, and they are just a well-coached team, and they deserved to win today.”
Landeros, who has carried the load for the Vikings all season and was coming off a 276-yard, state-playoff-opening performance last week, was largely bottled up by the Mount Si defense. The senior was held to 87 yards on 24 carries, but he did record touchdown runs of 1 and 4 yards.
Lake Stevens was without two key players. Washington State University-bound left tackle Devin Kylany, who made his season debut last week after recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, did not play Saturday because of a one-game suspension, according to Tri. Standout linebacker and leading tackler Junior Robinson, who has been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the Vikings’ winner-to-state contest two weeks ago, also didn’t play.
“You know, football has been played for 150 years,” Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune said. “So we didn’t do anything scheme-wise. I’d love to be able to sit here and say, ‘You know what, we out-coached them.’ I can’t say that, but we outplayed them, and we won tonight. We were two points better tonight.”
Lake Stevens’ margin for error became razor thin against Mount Si, and the number of Viking penalties and zero points in two red-zone visits — including a blocked 23-yard would-be-go-ahead field goal with 2:19 to play — were crippling.
Jellison threw for 314 yards despite Lake Stevens scoring a season-low 22 points. Eighty-five of those yards came on a third-quarter touchdown pass to Sergio Pelayo, who finished with a team-high 170 receiving yards on 14 catches. Kinchen added 141 yards on seven receptions.
A grind-it-out type of game was evident early as Mount Si took a 3-2 lead late into the first half. Wildcats kicker Colby Ramsey made a 41-yard field goal at 1:06 of the first quarter before Vikings Xander Fogel, Max Moenoa and Tyler Hilton teamed up to sack Mount Si QB Clay Millen in his own end zone for a safety with 7:33 to play in the second quarter.
Lake Stevens took its only lead of the game when Landeros capped a 10-play, 54-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run up the middle, giving the Vikings a 9-3 advantage with 1:46 to play until halftime.
The lead was short-lived.
On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Millen connected with teammate Aidan Dougherty for a 69-yard pass. Mount Si running back Cole Norah cashed in on the next play with a 2-yard TD run, giving the lead back to Mount Si, 10-9, with 1:11 to play until halftime.
The Wildcats extended their lead to 17-9 with a 10-play, 68-yard TD drive to open the third quarter. Millen connected with Brayden Holt for a short pass on a fourth-and-4 right at the first-down marker, but the Vikings missed a tackle, and Holt scooted past for a 28-yard touchdown.
Lake Stevens countered with a touchdown of its own on the following drive.
Landeros and Kinchen highlighted the drive with a 46-yard halfback pass from running back to receiver. After getting stuffed three straight times as the goal line, Landeros broke the plane for a 1-yard TD run on a fourth-and-goal to trim Mount Si’s lead to 17-15 with 3:58 to go in the third quarter.
Mount Si and Lake Steven then traded interceptions before Millen extended the Wildcats’ lead to 24-15 with 10:54 to play by throwing a 34-yard TD pass to Andrew Mostofi.
After the score, the Vikings’ big-play ability showed up. This time, Jellison uncorked a deep ball to Pelayo, who caught the ball in perfect stride and dashed for a 85-yard touchdown after sneaking behind Mount Si’s defense. The score cut Lake Stevens’ deficit to 24-22 with 10:36 remaining in the game.
Following a Mount Si missed field goal, the Vikings marched the ball from their own 20 to the Wildcats’ 6 with 2:25 remaining. On fourth-and-goal, Lake Stevens attempted a go-ahead 23-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked.
The Vikings got the ball back with no timeouts and a minute to go from their own 32 after Lake Stevens’ defense forced a three-and-out, but the Vikings couldn’t move the ball past Mount Si’s 50 as the clock ran out on Lake Stevens’ season.
“This group has just been a phenomenal group,” Tri said of his seniors. “Four years of watching them grow up and become young men and getting better on and off the field. I’m super proud of them and am going to miss the heck out of them. What a great group that has only lost a few games of playing high school football. Unfortunately, those are the ones that usually end the season, and that has happened to them too many times.”