EDMONDS — Isaiah Lewis knew his opportunity would come. He patiently stood pat as he watched graduated star running back JJ Jerome carve up Wesco defenses a year ago.
Lewis converted from wide receiver in the offseason, didn’t miss a training day all summer, and when his chance to play a lead role in the Monroe football team’s offense finally came Friday night against Meadowdale, the senior ran with it.
“It means a lot to me,” Lewis said after his team’s 62-21 win at Edmonds Stadium, “because I feel like I am one of the better players in the state, and I feel like just because I haven’t had the opportunities, people were doubting me left and right. With this team, I feel like I can really make my mark and put Monroe on the map. And it’s not just me. It’s for everyone around here. We want to see some wins. We want to go places, and it’s just a credit to my team.”
Surely, few will be doubting Lewis after the way he played Friday. He ran for 283 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries. He had scores of 1, 4, 6 and 62 yards and also returned an interception 65 yards for a score.
“He is a special kid,” Monroe coach Michael Bumpus said. “Going into this year we had no idea who our running back was going to be, and he kind of stepped up and said, ‘Coach, I want to give it a shot.’ Within a week or two, we knew he was going to be.”
Lewis wasn’t the only offensive playmaker to emerge for the Bearcats on Friday. Sophomore wideout Efton Chism III also impressed, catching seven passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns, which came from new quarterback Jaedyn Prewitt.
Prewitt completed 18-of-31 passes for 222 yards, with three touchdowns with two interceptions.
Monroe and Meadowdale were coming off history-making seasons. The Bearcats reached the state playoffs for the first time in 25 years in 2016, and the Mavericks reached the state semifinals for the first time in program history.
But is was the Bearcats who dominated Friday, largely in part to a dynamic offense and a defense that generated six turnovers.
After an opening drive flamed out, Monroe quickly got on the board with a six-play, 44-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead with 3 minutes, 36 seconds to play in the first quarter. Lewis capped the drive with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.
After the second of three consecutive Meadowdale three-and-outs to start the game, Lewis again finished off a Bearcats drive with a rushing score. This time Lewis powered across the goal line from 6 yards out, putting the Bearcats in front 14-0 with 10:34 to play in the second quarter.
Chism III gave Monroe a 21-0 lead on the Bearcats’ first play of their third drive. Prewitt found Chism III short over the middle, and the receiver did the rest of the work, sprinting for a 52-yard touchdown that gave the Bearcats a commanding 21-0 advantage.
The rout seemed to be on, but Meadowdale finally found some offensive rhythm.
Sophomore quarterback Hunter Moen, who finished 10-of-19 for 165 yards and three touchdown tosses with two interceptions, began connecting with some of receivers. A 4-yard touchdown pass to Jaxon Foltz with 5:54 to play in the second quarter trimmed Monroe’s lead to 21-7.
Following a Prewitt interception, the Mavericks went 80 yards in just two plays to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 21-14. Meadowdale speed back Jashon Butler, who finished with a team-high 82 rush yards on 17 carries, broke free for a 49-yard gain, and Moen followed with a 31-yard touchdown pass to Austin Goulet with 3:11 left before halftime.
But Monroe’s offense, which operated at breakneck speed, scored twice before the half ended.
Lewis polished off a 12-play, 80-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run — his third of the game — and a critical lost fumble on a botched snap deep in the Mavericks own territory led to a Blake Rybar 2-yard touchdown with 3 seconds to play that put the Bearcats in front 35-14.
Another lost Meadowdale fumble deep in its own territory, this time coming on a shotgun snap, led to a Monroe touchdown. Kainalu Batongbacal was the recepient, catching a 17-yard touchdown from Prewitt to give the Bearcats a 42-14 lead.
More Mavericks turnovers led to more Bearcats points.
“That’s demoralizing for a team,” Bumpus said. “When you give us a short field, we are pretty dangerous.”
Lewis picked off a Moen pass and raced for a 65-yard touchdown, extending the Bearcats’ lead to 49-14 with 4:49 to play in the third quarter, and following a fourth lost fumble, Chism III caught his second touchdown — a 26-yarder over the middle from Prewitt. The score put Monroe in front 55-14 and prompted the running clock.
Foltz caught a 50-yard touchdown pass to trim Monroe’s lead to 55-21 before Lewis punctuated his night with a 62-yard score with 2:13 to play in the fourth quarter.