Mount Si football gives its all in second half, makes Bothell sweat a bit before Cougars escape with victory

Last night’s Mount Si High School football contest at home in Snoqualmie certainly had something for everyone. What started out as a clinic put on by the visiting Bothell Cougars turned into something much different in the second half. The Wildcats rallied back to make things quite interesting late, but a special teams mistake ultimately cost Mount Si in the end, as Bothell, the defending state 4A high school football champions, escaped with the win.

Senior running back Damani St. John Watkins ran for over 150 yards in the contest, and scored three touchdowns, helping the Cougars, who had a 27-7 halftime lead, hold off a spirited Wildcat comeback attempt late for the 33-28 victory.

Bothell coach Tom Bainter, a former Mount Si assistant coach, was thrilled with his team’s effort. “We got off to a quick start and we felt like everything was rolling. They made some adjustments defensively and did a great job and they started moving the ball, too, and we were in for a dogfight,” Bainter said, also offering praise to the Wildcats. “Tip your hats to them. They never quit,” the coach said. “They’re well coached and they play good football here and they kept fighting and that’s what you always want your team to do.”

The “Blue Train” from the Cougars got rolling very quickly in this one – 49 seconds in to be exact. That’s when Watkins got his big night underway, busting through the Mount Si defense on the second play of the contest for a 56-yard scamper to the end zone, and just like that, Bothell was on top, and it was looking like it could be a tough night for Mount Si. Bainter noted to the SVSJ that Watkins has been battling some hamstring injuries, so the senior’s effort was even more noteworthy as a result. “He’s a tough kid,” the coach said. “He’s a hard runner and he did a great job tonight.”

Watkins was back shortly after, with his second touchdown midway through the first stanza, from nine yards out. Of the over 150 yards he had in the game, he recorded over 100 of those just in the opening quarter alone and Bothell was up 20-0 after the first frame. The third Cougar score of the opening stanza came as the quarter ended, on a 56-yard touchdown reception by senior receiver Josh Schulke off a pass from sophomore quarterback Jacob Sirmon.

Watkins delivered his third touchdown midway through the second quarter, punching one in from five yards out to help extend the Bothell lead to 27-0. Then Mount Si got on the board shortly thereafter, with a nice 19-yard touchdown run by Mark Farmer, as he ran past a number of Bothell defenders and into the end zone.

The second half saw Mount Si mount a spirited effort. Parker Dumas had two touchdown receptions in the half, and the first was a thing of beauty, catching a ball thrown from 26 yards out by Wildcat senior QB Harrison Danna for the score midway through the third quarter with a defender on his back. Mount Si crept closer with under a minute left in the frame with a nice run from Cory Cotto to paydirt; he ran seven yards to the end zone to tighten things going to the final frame. “I just saw a hole and just ran through it,” the senior said.

So on to the fourth quarter the game went, with Bothell only up six, 27-21, after having had a 27-0 lead in the second quarter. The big theme this season thus far for Bothell has been close games – in their previous two losses to start the season, they had fallen in those games by a combined four points. So the Cougars knew what the pressure felt like.

The game remained 27-21 through much of the final frame, then things really got cooking with about four minutes left. Mount Si had punted the ball to Bothell after failing to get anything going on an offensive series, and the Wildcat special teams pinned the Cougars well into their end of the field, something which the defense was able to maintain on the ensuing Bothell drive. So with a three-and-out recorded and a resulting punt from the Cougars, Mount Si was looking like they could be in position to start the final drive to the finish. But something unfortunate happened on the way there – the Wildcat punt returner, with the ball being slippery due to a rain shower which had moved over the field, fumbled, or in football speak, “muffed”, that ball, and the Cougars were all over it, restarting their drive. They then finished it in spectacular fashion, with a flea-flicker pass from Sirmon to Logan Gray for 60 yards and a TD that locked the door shut on this one for Bothell.

Danna quickly got the Mount Si offense back down the field on their ensuing possession, and connected with Dumas for the senior’s second TD of the contest, but a resulting onside kick went for naught, and the Cougars had survived to move to 2-2 on the season, the same record Mount Si had after falling in the contest.

“I really don’t care what the score is, I honestly don’t,” Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune said. “What I want to know is that our kids are going to fight tooth and nail for their school.” And that’s exactly what this group did, in front of a very large house which included a lot of freshmen there in advance of the “lock-in” event inside the school for the Class of 2018 after the game last night, and families with their elementary-school and younger age daughters there for the Mount Si mini-cheer camp performance at halftime of the contest.

Kinnune thinks this effort could be the foundation for something special as the season wears on. “We can build on this, so we’re going to build on it,” he said.

As for Bothell, the defending state 4A champs now will look to re-assert their place at the top of the 4A totem pole after a slow start. Bainter is now in his 16th season as Cougars coach, and in that time, he has steadily built the BHS program from what was basically a shell of what it is now when he arrived so many years ago into what it is today – a well-run machine that in a lot of ways emulates the success that Mount Si has had under Kinnune for a quarter-century.

“It’s a big effort. It’s not me, it’s not any one guy, it’s not any one coach or player, it’s just a committed effort,” Bainter said. “We live in a great community that loves football. We get great support, we get a lot of kids who turn out, we’ve got a wonderful youth program and so it’s just a great place to be, Bothell High School and the Bothell community. It’s a whole community effort for sure.”

Mount Si and Bothell now move on to week 5 contests at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell. The Wildcats are at Inglemoor next Thursday night, while the Cougars host Woodinville next Friday. Kickoffs for both games are at 7:00 p.m.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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2 Responses to Mount Si football gives its all in second half, makes Bothell sweat a bit before Cougars escape with victory

  1. Avatar Wayne lewis says:

    Wish you would have mentioned that it was a night where former coach Eric Riley was honored for his 25 years of coaching. He and Tom worked together closely in Bainter’s first few years before he became a head coach.

    • Rhett Workman Rhett Workman says:

      Already did that, Coach, but am noting it again this morning in our football wrapup. Thanks for letting me know.

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