Midway through the second quarter, the Mount Baker football team knew it would be tough sledding for the rest of the game. Junior quarterback Kaleb Bass was down with an injury that looked serious enough to keep him out for the rest of the game.
The Mountaineers (7-3) led 18-14 at the time but the injury to Bass took the wind out of their sails and the Wildcats capitalized, going up 28-18 at halftime and then running away in the second half to earn a 42-24 Class 1A State Tournament victory and eliminate Mount Baker.
“I’m not mad or anything but something like that just makes you say ‘dang it,’” Mount Baker coach Ron Lepper said. “It looked like we were going to have a shootout and then something like that happens. But I’m proud of our kids. They battled through an extremely tough league just to get here, and then went up against a senior-laden La Center team. It would have been easy for us to give up but we didn’t.”
Bass had thrown two touchdown passes to Thomas Barbo and run for one more TD before he was forced to exit the game. Barbo said he and his teammates worked hard not to let anything get them down.
“It was a little upsetting seeing that but we just had to pick people up after,” Barbo said.
Carson Brandland stepped up and played quarterback for the rest of the game, but Baker’s offense sputtered.
La Center senior Evan Honore intercepted Brandland and returned it for a 90-yard score to end the half and put the Wildcats up 28-18 at halftime.
Honore caught the ball in the middle of the field and used his blockers and speed to find the edge on the left side. No one was going to catch him once he got going.
Turnovers prove costly
Honore’s interception was the first of three turnovers committed by the Mountaineers. They also fumbled twice in the second half.