State quarterfinal loss ends football team’s season
A football team with speed can change the course of a game in mere seconds, as Eastview saw for itself on Friday night.
The underdog Lightning took an early lead against Wayzata in the Class 6A quarterfinals when linebacker Jacob Bechstein batted down a pass, grabbed the ball before it hit the ground and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
The lead lasted only as long as Wayzata’s Jeff Borchardt needed to take the ensuing kickoff and streak 98 yards to the end zone. It turned out the Trojans were just getting started as they scored three touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 35-21 victory at the Metrodome.
“Their speed kind of jumps out at you,” Eastview coach Kelly Sherwin said. “They have kids all over the field who can run.”
Eastview finished 7-4, with all of its losses coming against teams that reached the final eight of the Class 6A playoffs – Wayzata (twice), Lakeville North and Prior Lake.
The Lightning played Wayzata in the second week of the regular season, losing 24-7. Since then Wayzata lost one of its top running backs and one of its top defensive players to injuries, but it was difficult to notice their absence last week.
“We knew we were improved over the last time we played them, but they’re better, too,” Sherwin said. “They’re well-coached, and they take advantage of opportunities.”
It was 7-7, just 24 seconds into the game as late-arriving fans missed Bechstein’s interception return and Borchardt’s kickoff return. Later in the first quarter, Borchardt (5 yards) and Tanner Bedard (44 yards) scored rushing touchdowns less than three minutes apart, putting Eastview in a 14-point hole.
The Lightning didn’t go away, though. Twice it cut Wayzata’s lead to seven points. A 7-yard touchdown run by sophomore Will Rains made it 28-21 with 8:54 remaining.
Borchardt, however, took off on a 69-yard touchdown run, making the Trojans’ lead 35-21 with 8:04 remaining. When Eastview threw an interception on its next possession, the outcome was all but decided.
Wayzata (9-1) will play Lake Conference rival Eden Prairie in the Class 6A semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday, with the winner facing Lakeville North or Rosemount in the Prep Bowl at 7 p.m. Nov. 23. All remaining playoff games are at the Metrodome.
In both games against Wayzata this season, Eastview had trouble moving the ball. The Lightning was held to 194 yards in last week’s game. Rains, who rushed for 386 yards in Eastview’s first two playoff games, had 76 hard-earned yards and two touchdowns last week.
Quarterback/wide receiver Henry McIsaac, defensive end Ben Oberfeld, nose tackle Marshall Lang, linebacker Chris Granat, tight end Keynon Phillips, linebacker/receiver Ryan Gavrilescu and offensive lineman Michael Backus were among the seniors that led Eastview to its fifth state playoff appearance.
“These kids were battlers,” Sherwin said about this year’s team. “Even when things weren’t going well for them, they never gave up, and I think that’s something the kids who are coming back next year will remember.”
Rains, who scored 21 touchdowns and rushed for almost 1,600 yards this season, will be a big part of Eastview’s plans in 2013. Other returning starters include Bechstein, quarterback Mark Dwyer, running back Amari Kennedy and defensive back Jahkye McClarron.