TACOMA — Few defenses have slowed down the Lake Stevens football team’s high-scoring offense this season. Union came up with an answer Saturday night in the 4A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome.
In a span of less than seven minutes, Vikings quarterback Tre Long’s offense felt unstoppable. Lake Stevens reeled off 20 points in the first half, using a mix of masterfully designed plays to pick up chunk yardage one play after another.
The Vikings’ third score came with 10:06 to play in the second quarter. Lake Stevens didn’t score another point during its 52-20 loss.
“We got rolling a little bit, and we just got some plays that worked,” Long said, “but they shut those down and we couldn’t pick anything else back up. They just had the momentum the whole time.”
The momentum switch happened in an instant.
Trailing 24-20 at halftime, an avalanche of miscues plagued the Vikings in the second half.
“Tipped balls, dropped balls, penalties, turnovers,” Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri said. “It’s hard to move the chains when you’re not taking care of the ball, and that was the difference tonight. We just stopped doing what we had done all year long to get to this point.”
The Vikings, unbeaten entering Saturday’s game, compiled an average of 48.2 points per game during their 13 wins this season. At one point, Lake Stevens scored 56 or more points in five straight games. Their 20 points against the Titans marked a season low.
What’s made Lake Stevens so dangerous all season is its balanced attack — the ability to run the ball behind its talented offensive line and also sling the ball around to its perimeter weapons.
When the Vikings kept the score with Union close, its offense kept the Titans’ defense guessing. Lake Stevens running back Dallas Landeros found space to run, and Long worked off run fakes to find open targets deep down the field.
But once Union opened a two-score lead, the Titans forced the Vikings to be one dimensional. Lake Stevens’ undoing ensued.
“Once you play with a lead you are able to not worry about the run game as much,” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said. “When we knew they had to throw the ball, it got a lot easier. You don’t have to defend everything.”
In the second half Lake Stevens turned the ball over on downs three times and gave the ball back twice on interceptions.
The Vikings’ best second-half drive came early in the third quarter. Starting on its own 11-yard line, Lake Stevens used 14 plays to move the ball to Union’s 34, but the Vikings couldn’t convert a fourth-and-5.
“The second half we just didn’t come ready,” Lake Stevens lineman Devin Kylany said. “We didn’t execute, and then when we did, we shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and turnovers. To win a game against a good football team we can’t do that.”
Despite the sour endnote, Kylany raved about how enjoyable being a key piece of the Vikings’ dominant offense has been this year.
“It’s an awesome, high scoring offense and you do a lot of different things,” he said, “but when some of the things aren’t working, and they know the other things are coming, it gets really frustrating. When you get down like that, they control the game. When they are playing puppet-master, it’s not too good.”