For the second consecutive season, the Eastside Bulldogs football team earned a NWJCFL championship on the gridiron.
The Bulldogs, who overcame a 13-point deficit at halftime, outscored the Lewis-Clark Valley Loggers 23-6 in the final two quarters of play en route to a landmark 36-32 victory on Nov. 6 at Renton Memorial Stadium. The Bulldogs finished the 2016 season with a 5-1 league record. The Loggers finished 4-2 overall.
Despite trailing 26-13 at halftime, Bulldogs’ head coach Kevin Bouwman knew his team would be okay as he entered the locker room.
“When I walked in, I could hear our players talking and could hear a couple of our biggest leaders just standing up and being so positive. I stopped and kind of listened to them finish and then I walked in. I told them I know we can move the ball. We just had to limit our mistakes and have no more turnovers. They all responded well (in the second half). It was great.”
The Bulldogs defense wreaked havoc on the Loggers in the second half, limiting their high-octane attack to just six points.
“Bryson (Grant) had a huge game for us. He had two sacks and was just pressuring their quarterback (Rob Roth) all day long,” Bouwman said.
On the Loggers’ final drive of the fourth quarter, Bulldogs’ defensive back Khalil Burton came up with a game-sealing interception to quell the Loggers’ rally attempt late in the fourth stanza. Eastside defensive back Kui Kapu also picked off Roth in the second half of play. Bouwman was especially proud of the game defensive back Kris Ewens put together against the Loggers. Ewens shadowed Loggers’ No. 1 wide receiver Ryan Roth all over the field for the duration of the game.
“He (Ewens) just followed him everywhere and really did a good job,” Bouwman said.
Bouwman wasn’t surprised his squad and the Loggers faced off in the title game. Both teams went into the season finale with identical 4-1 records.
“When the schedule came out and we knew we were finishing the season against Lewis-Clark, I talked with the others coaches and said I guarantee that the championship is going to come down to that game,” he said. “We always have such great games when we play them. They are so tough and I really like what their players and coaches do across the board. They are a classy program.”