Saturday afternoon’s showdown between Central Valley and visiting Bellevue offered an interesting matchup on the first weekend of high school football across the state.
Both teams were coming off successful 2017 campaigns, with CV’s Bears (10-2) and the Wolverines (11-2) both falling in the state semifinals to the eventual state champions in 4A and 3A, respectively.
Both teams were still commanding respect despite heavy graduation rates and Bellevue changing coaches – CV was ranked fourth in 4A and Bellevue sixth in 3A in the Seattle Times preseason poll.
It was also a battle of contrasting offensive strategies. CV wants to take advantage of strong-armed junior quarterback Matt Gabbert, who is already attracting college scouts, while Bellevue offers a multioption rushing attack, content to ground out yardage and grind down the clock.
In the end, Bellevue’s ground-and-pound took its toll on the CV defense and the Bears’ high-flying offense showed promise – but also showed it still has some work to come together.
Bellevue rushed for 322 yards, not attempting a single pass, and the Wolverines downed the Bears 18-7 in the season opener for both.
“They’ve been running it who knows how long, 20-plus years,” CV coach Ryan Butner said, referring to Bellevue’s option offense. “Their youth program runs it. They’ve been doing it for a long, long time and they’re really good at it. And it’s very difficult to simulate in practice.”
Bellevue had drives of 16, 10 and 19 plays, limiting CV to seven possessions.
“I think we probably only got about 30 snaps all game,” Butner said. “They just held the ball for three-quarters of the game. It just didn’t allow us to get into synch at all.”
“It really wore our defense down and some of our two-way players were just gassed,” Gabbert said. “We tried to do best we could with what we had.”
Gabbert finished 11 of 25 for 88 yards and an interception.
Bellevue returned the opening kick to the 50. Alex Reid busted a 17-yard run on a third-and-6 and Drew Fowler finished the drive with a 27-yard touchdown run off a counter play.
The teams traded punts, resulting with CV taking over at its 1. Hunter Chodorowski gained 11 to get some breathing room. Gabbert hit Grant Kelly for a 16-yard gain and again for 19.
On third down from the Bellevue 21, Connor Caffrey broke open in the end zone but couldn’t handle Gabbert’s bullet and a field-goal attempt was short.
On CV’s next possession, Gabbert tried to hit Carsen Raab – wide open on a fly pattern – but the pass tipped off Raab’s fingertips and CV had to give the ball back again.
“Usually in practice we might drop a few in the beginning and get rolling, but we today couldn’t get it going,” Gabbert said.
Bellevue grounded the final three and a half minutes off the first half clock and led 7-0 at intermission.
CV’s Ryan Harper returned the second half kick out to the Bears’ 36. On third-and-1, Chodorowski (13 carries, 84 yards) busted a 36-yarder down to the Bellevue 9.
On the next play, Harper finished what he started, slashing around the left end into the end zone to tie it.
Bellevue then conducted a 19-play drive which covered nearly 10 minutes, ending on . The Wolverines converted on three third downs and two fourth downs, including the final play, a 1-yard dive by Fowler into the end zone.
The snap on the extra point was bobbled and Bellevue held a 13-7 lead with 27 seconds left in the third.
CV went backward on its next possession and the snap on the punt went through the end zone for a safety and with just more than 11 minutes to play.
Bellevue took the kick at its 43. Joby Schneider plowed through the line and broke free for a 37-yard gain. The drive stalled at the CV 19, and Jed Michael’s 35-yard field-goal attempt was good for an 18-7 lead.
Harper returned the kickoff down to the Bellevue 39, but on third-and-15, Gabbert’s long pass attempt was picked off by Jalen Love at the 16.
Central Valley had one more meaningful possession, but Gabbert’s fourth-down pass attempt was behind an open receiver and Bellevue worked the clock.
Lakeland 28, Rogers 14: Brandon Furey threw for 184 yards with two touchdowns and the visiting Hawks (1-0) defeated the Pirates (0-1).
Isaac McArthur caught three passes for 124 yards and a touchdown for Lakeland. Rogers running back Tre Phillips rushed for 139 yards with a touchdown.