Meridian’s offensive fireworks were impressive, but its defense is what drove the Trojans to the state playoffs for the third straight year with a 63-3 shellacking of Bothell Cedar Park Christian in the Class 1A Northwest District Playoffs Friday.
The No. 3 Trojans’ defense stymied the Eagles’ Wing-T offense, holding it to 57 yards of total offense on the night, including three yards on the ground.
Meridian coach Bob Ames wasn’t expecting a blowout win.
“This was a huge surprise,” Ames said. “They’re a very well-coached, disciplined team. Our guys just played hard. It was very gratifying.”
With the win, Meridian will host a the District 4 No. 3 seed, which appears to be Montesano, next weekend in the first round of the 1A state playoffs.
The Eagles’ only score came on the first drive of the game, when they hit a 27-yard field goal.
After that, it was all Meridian.
The Trojans answered on their next drive, when senior Simon Burkett found junior Dawson Logan for a 50-yard TD reception to give Meridian the lead for good.
Meridian scored two more times in the first quarter – a touchdown pass from Burkett to Tony Schleimer and a 4-yard touchdown run by Bryce Vandenhaak – to take a 21-3 lead.
Burkett fired two more touchdowns in the second quarter, along with a 41-yard touchdown scamper to make it 42-3.
Vandenhaak’s 38-yard touchdown run put the Trojans up 49-3 with 1:36 left before the half.
Eagles coach Butch Goncharoff, who previously led Bellevue to 11 Class 3A state titles, praised Meridian’s hard-nosed play.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and they do a great job,” Goncharoff said. “The most impressive thing we saw is they play to the whistle; that’s what good teams do.”
Goncharoff likened Burkett to former Ferndale and NFL quarterback Jake Locker, who he faced in the 2004 3A championship game.
“He’s a fantastic player; he’s as good as anyone in the state,” Goncharoff said. “I’ve seen a lot of good ones through the years. He kind of reminds me of Jake Locker. When he pulls the ball, it’s almost as scary as when he throws it.”
Burkett, an Eastern Washington commit, finished 9 for 14 passing with 159 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 41 yards and another score.
Stars of the game
The Trojans’ defensive line lit CPC the entire night. On nearly every play, Meridian was in the backfield by the time the Eagles’ running backs received the hand off.
Unsung hero of the game
Trojans’ junior lineman Adam Kruzich was injured on the first series of the game when he blew through the line for a 10-yard sack on third-and-4 at the Trojans’ 4, forcing the Eagles to kick a field goal and helping swing the momentum early for Meridian.