The Mt. Spokane football team completed an improbable sweep by 3A teams over 4A teams Friday in an electrifying Greater Spokane League doubleheader at Joe Albi Stadium.
And Mt. Spokane is the lone unbeaten team remaining after four weeks.
The Wildcats’ defense shut out the Mead Panthers 10-0 in the Battle of the Bell before a crowd of 10,202.
Earlier, Shadle Park upset Gonzaga Prep. It sets up an interesting showdown next Thursday between the Highlanders and Mt. Spokane in a game that will decide the top 3A playoff seed but could go far in determining the league champ.
Chase Gyllenhammer’s sack with 29 seconds left secured the Wildcats’ win, and students stormed the field to ring the bell.
Mt. Spokane coach Mike McLaughlin admitted he was surprised to look at the scoreboard and see a no points under Mead’s name.
“I knew our defense has been playing well, particularly against the run,” McLaughlin said. “We got lucky, they dropped some balls. … We’ve been good in the second half and we were good in this one too.”
Mt. Spokane (4-0) took advantage of an interception by Dakota Hipes late in the first quarter. Hipes’ pick, one of two in the first half, gave the Wildcats possession at Mead’s 29-yard line.
Two plays later, Stiles put Mt. Spokane ahead 7-0 when he broke three tackles and high stepped the final 3 yards into the end zone with 1:48 to go in the first.
“I jumped it and luckily I got it,” Hipes said of the interception. “It got the defense and the offense started.”
It was a game of field position for most of the game, especially in the first two quarters.
Mt. Spokane moved to Mead’s 17 with seven seconds to go before halftime. The Wildcats set up for a 33-yard field goal attempt by Tyler Gyllenhammer, but the Panthers (3-1) called three successive timeouts to try to ice him.
It worked, Gyllenhammer’s kick had plenty of distance but was pulled the slightest right.
He redeemed himself in the second half – from the same distance but from the opposite end of the stadium. His kick extended the score to the final margin with 11:56 remaining.
Mead’s defense was solid, too. But the Panthers struggled mightily on offense.
“I thought it was going to be a tougher game,” Hipes said, acknowledging he didn’t think his team could shut out Mead. “I have a lot of respect for Mead. We played amazing and with a lot of intensity. We showed up to play. We were ready.”
Mt. Spokane senior quarterback Stu Stiles, who has now played longer this season (two games) than his first two years, gave all the credit to the defense. He had a feeling something good might happen when he arrived at Albi and saw the score of the opener.
“I couldn’t believe Prep lost to Shadle,” Stiles said. “I realized then that our game was for the top spot in the GSL. It added even a little more pressure to the game knowing that the winner was first in the GSL.”
Stiles gave all the credit to the defense.
“The defense played amazing. You can’t say anymore than that,” he said. “They read their keys, they just flew to the ball.”