It wasn’t the result that Interlake head coach Shawn Hartline was hoping for, but he was ecstatic about the way the Saints (1-6) played in their 21-8 loss to the Juanita Rebels (2-5) on Oct. 18 at Interlake High School.
“I’m so proud of our boys,” Hartline said. “We have injuries, so we have 30 ballplayers right now. We played against a squad of 60 (players) and we played four quarters of football. We left it all on the field and you can’t do any more than that.”
Without a lot of experienced players, Hartline said the team focuses on improving themselves and their squad every week.
“Those are beautiful goals and you can ride those for the rest of your life,” Hartline said.
After a scoreless first quarter, Juanita quarterback Zubin Gupta threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Connor Freinik to give the Rebels a 7-0 lead with 7:57 left in the second quarter.
Late in the second quarter, Interlake’s 6-1 305-pound defensive lineman Conner Morton intercepted a pass from Gupta to give the Saints the ball at midfield. The drive stalled, and the Rebels took their 7-point lead into halftime.
The Rebels found the end zone on their opening drive of the second half courtesy of a 7-yard touchdown run from running back Brayden Brown to double their lead.
In the fourth quarter, a pass from Interlake quarterback Charlie Galanti was intercepted by Juanita defensive back Randy Do, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown, making it a 21-0 Rebels lead.
With 5:35 left in the game, wide receiver Luke Hirsch caught a pass from Galanti along the sideline, broke a tackle and ran into the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown. Hartline said Hirsch told him to run the play.
“We all work together and we all try to help each other,” Hartline said. “Sometimes the coaches don’t always have the magic answer, sometimes the player does.”
The Saints converted a two-point conversion, with Galanti completing a pass to wide receiver Grady Fleming in the end zone to make it a 21-8 game. Hartline said the players never stopped believing in themselves.
“I never felt that we were out of this game at any point,” Hartline said. “Even when we score a touchdown and we still need to get two more. I thought we could do it if we have a little luck on our side.”
The Saints defense forced a Juanita punt with 3:57 left in the game, but a fumble by Corey Parker ended their chances of a comeback. Despite losing, Hartline said he was proud of the way the team fought in the fourth quarter.
“They just didn’t want to give up,” Hartline said. “I knew if we could get the two-point conversion, it would set a different mindset for them, knowing that we still can compete and still win this ballgame tonight.”
Interlake will go on the road to face the Lake Washington Kangaroos (2-5) on Oct. 25. Hartline said they have plenty of positives to take into their game next week against the Kangs.