Lions outplay expectations in close loss to Sumner

Levi Coovert and Drew Albaugh

Friday Night Lights are back, and what a night it was for the Bellarmine Lions. Heading into their 7 p.m. matchup on Sept. 2 against the Sumner Spartans, the odds were not in Bellarmine’s favor. Sumner, ranked by MaxPreps as the #6 team in the state, figured to be a tough matchup for the #48 ranked Lion squad. Most expected Sumner to pull away early and take an easy win.But, at halftime, a 16-7 Bellarmine lead was stunning the home crowd.

This was, of course, because of the Lions’ defense, which consistently forced the Spartans to punt. Despite an early score from Sumner in the first quarter, Bellarmine rebounded and responded with a score of their own. A trick play involving a double reverse gave senior wideout Alex Quintanilla a deep pass to quarterback Tyler Stowers, setting up a Stowers QB sneak TD. What followed was a crucial pick from senior cornerback Lucas Kokich, who immediately made his presence known after returning for his first season since his freshman year. The interception set up a long field goal from new kicker Jacob Hundven and gave the Lions an early 10-7 lead.

The defense continued to dominate, led by junior linebacker Joey Bambrick, and the Lions capitalized again with another Stowers sneak. Bellamine took a 16-7 lead into the half, the Sumner sidelines silenced, and the student section hyped and roaring for a Bellarmine victory. Unfortunately for the Lions, halftime was where the Sumner defense played up to its #6 ranked potential. The Lions continued to play strong defense, in particular junior cornerback Nick Nino, who made plays all over the field. Three-year varsity starter Rome Mageo led an inexperienced but talented offensive and defensive line. Despite Sumner having one of the top-ranked O-Lines in the state, highlighted by 3-star recruits Kyle Martin and Dylan Sikorski, Bellarmine matched up very well with them. The Lions played tough and refused to be pushed around, racking up sacks and continuing to force Sumner to punt.

Sumner scored in the 3rd quarter to make it 16-14, and suddenly the game was tight. Into the 4th, the Lions held a slim two-point lead, but a long, methodical Sumner drive was about to change that. A good punt return set the Spartans up in great field position, and on the ensuing drive, Sumner scored to take the lead with less than two minutes left in the game. The Lions, with one last chance to score, went four and out, despite good play under pressure by qb Stowers. With a defender in his face he barely overthrows open receiver Andrew Johnson, who left his defender mystified on what could have been a game-winning touchdown.

Despite the loss, the Lions played well above expectations, leading to their new and improved ranking of #43, even with being 0-1. This week, the Lions take on the 1-0 Bethel Braves, ranked #87 after a 6-0 win over South Kitsap. This marquee matchup will take place under the lights on Memorial Field this Thursday, Sept. 8, in front of the whiteout crowd of Lions who are sure to come out and support. The Lions hope to continue their strong start to the season and deliver their fans a victory.