Bellevue takes down Liberty 35-0 | Prep Football
By JOEL WILLITS
Bellevue Reporter Former Sports Writer
November 19, 2010 · Updated 11:31 PM
So much for the hype.
When Bellevue met Liberty for the fourth time in less than a year Friday night, most expected a classic game that would live up to the recent rivalry. After all, the last three games - all Bellevue wins - had been decided by a total of 12 points.
It wasn't to be. Bellevue, the two-time defending state champions and winners of seven of the last nine Class 3A titles, dominated the Patriots from start to finish in a 35-0 win that sends the Wolverines back to the Tacoma Dome for the state semifinals.
The game was anything but what was expected. Bellevue's defense overwhelmed the Patriots and forced Liberty quarterback Trey Wheeler into a nightmarish game. The senior threw more interceptions (four) than completed passes (three) and had just 10 yards passing until 38-yard completion with less than three minutes to play against Bellevue's reserves.
"We saw some things and took advantage of them," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "Our defense did a great job going after them."
Liberty struggled from the start without star wide receiver Jake Bainton, who missed the game due to academic reasons. Without a receiving threat, the Wolverines (11-1) were able to stack the box - and when Wheeler did pass, Bellevue's defensive backs came down with the ball more often than not.
The Patriots went three-and-out to start the game and the Wolverines promptly drove downfield and scored on a 1-yard run by Latrelle Dukes. Bellevue linebacker William Bissell made a diving interception on Wheeler on Liberty's next possession and the Wolverines capitalized with an 11-yard touchdown run by quarterback Kendrick Van Ackeren.
Bellevue defensive back Michael Foreman picked off Wheeler again on the Patriots' very next play and scored just 37 seconds later on an 8-yard run by Dukes, making it 21-0 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
"Our offense just feeds off our defense," Foreman said. "When we make big plays on defense our offense makes big plays."
Things didn't get much better for Liberty (8-4). Foreman intercepted Wheeler again late in the first half and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown that was negated by a penalty, but Bellevue cashed in just four plays later on a 14-yard touchdown by John Nguyen.
"We've been saying that Michael Foreman is the best corner in the state and tonight he proved it," Goncharoff said. "He made some huge plays tonight."
Nguyen scored the only touchdown of the second half as well on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Without any deep threats, Bellevue was able to focus on Liberty star running back Chandler Jenkins. Jenkins did manage 102 yards on 26 carries, but never broke a big play. His longest run of the night was 16 yards.
"He runs hard," Goncharoff said. "I don't know how big he is, but the kid's a heck of a player."
Bellevue held the Patriots to 152 yards of total offense and Liberty never advanced further than the Wolverines' 24-yard line. Jack Meggs preserved the Bellevue shutout with a final interception of Wheeler with 1:59 remaining.
"We got on them early and stayed on them," Goncharoff said. "We hadn't played 48 minutes this year but we did tonight."
The Wolverines were led by Dukes, who rushed for 164 yards on 19 carries. Bellevue rushed for 281 yards.
"It feels great," said Bellevue junior offensive lineman Jake Eldrenkamp. "These past couple of weeks have been the best we've played all season."
Bellevue now faces off with Lakes (11-1), who beat Camas 27-24 in overtime to reach the semifinals. Gametime is set for 7 p.m. next Friday.