ARLINGTON — The Arlington High School football team had a chance to do something the program hadn’t done in over 40 years.
With Class 3A state powerhouse Bellevue coming to town, the Eagles were trying to break through to the state semifinals for the first time since winning the AA (now 3A) state championship in 1982.
The Wolverines had other thoughts and continued their run of dispatching Wesco opponents in the postseason.
Third-seeded Arlington’s high-flying offense was held in check for the first time all season and the defense couldn’t find an answer for sixth-seeded Bellevue’s vaunted Wing-T rushing attack in a 35-17 loss Saturday in the 3A state quarterfinals.
Bellevue (9-2) advanced to face second-seeded O’Dea in the state semifinals next Saturday. It’s third straight time the Wolverines have reached the semifinals and the fifth time in the past six postseasons. Bellevue has now beaten three straight Wesco teams by a combined 133-31 since the start of the winner-to-state Week 10 playoffs.
Arlington, which was making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2005, finished it season 11-1.
Bellevue’s array of ballcarriers took turns gashing the Eagles for chunks of yardage on the ground. The Wolverines piled up 354 yards behind their massive, bruising offensive line and had four different players account for rushing touchdowns. Sophomore Max Jones led the balanced attack with 103 yards, senior Carson Rubin had 99 yards and senior Blake Teets added 76 yards.
The 35 points allowed by Arlington was the most in a single game this season by 17 points.
“They’ve just got great athletes running the ball and they’ve got great athletes blocking,” Arlington coach Greg Dailer said. “Sometimes that’s all it takes.”
Bellevue delivered an equally impressive performance on the defensive end, holding Arlington 18 points under its previous season low. The Wolverines intercepted standout junior quarterback Leyton Martin three times, held leading receiver Jake Willis to just two yards on one catch and forced punts on three drives.
The Eagles, who averaged 44 points per game entering the game, were held to 247 total yards before a long TD pass in the fourth quarter, which resulted in the defense being left on the field for extended periods against the Wolverines’ clock-chewing run game.
“We didn’t do a very good job of moving the ball offensively,” Dailer said. “They did a great job on defense. (Our defense) got wore down for sure.”
Martin finished 22-of-42 for 235 and two touchdowns and added a team-high 74 rushing yards. Junior Kaid Hunter had 109 yards and one TD receiving. Senior Stevie Balderas chipped in another 53 yards and one TD receiving.
The Eagles opened the scoring in the first quarter after the defense forced a three-and-out to set up a short field. Martin dumped off a screen pass to Balderas for 12-yard score and then flipped a shovel pass over the defense to senior Jeremy Fleming on the two-point try for an 8-0 lead. The Wolverines answered back with a 13-play, 77-yard march capped by Teets’ 6-yard run to make 8-7 late in the first quarter.
Bellevue drove down the field again with its punishing run game, which set up senior Lucas Razore’s 34-yard TD pass to senior Colin Miller on play action. Senior Ryken Moon then picked off a Martin pass on the first play of the ensuing drive and, two plays later, junior Bryce Smith ripped off a 42-yard scoring run for a 21-8 lead midway through the second.
Martin completed six passes and picked up yardage with his legs to help the Eagles reach the red zone and threaten with an answer, but Arlington was forced to settle for a 25-yard field goal from senior Aidan Raney to make 21-11.
Willis came away with an interception to give his team a chance to further cut into the deficit before the half, but Bellevue held serve with an interception of its own to maintain its two-score lead entering the break.
Bellevue opened the second half by going 67 yards on nine plays — all on the ground — and took a 27-11 lead on a 13-yard TD run by Jones.
Arlington had a chance to flip the momentum after they pinned the Wolverines inside their own 1-yard line on a punt, but Bellevue proceeded with a 12-play, 99-yard TD drive that took over 6 minutes off the clock. Rubin finished it off with an 11-yard TD run and added the two-point conversion for 35-11 lead early in the fourth.
Deberry got behind the defense down the sideline and hauled in a 72-yard TD pass from Martin for the game’s final score with 4:05 left.
The Eagles graduate 20 seniors who helped lead the program to a league championship, its first state quarterfinal appearance in 18 years and an unbeaten regular season.
“We haven’t had an undefeated regular season since 1981, so obviously their legacy is intact,” Dailer said of his senior class. “They’ve just been great leaders, and I think that will help us carry forward.”