The entire Interlake Saints football team huddled around the famed “Crossroads Cup” trophy for a well-deserved spontaneous celebration after capturing a triumphant victory against their fiercest rival.
Interlake cruised to a 46-12 victory against the Sammamish Totems in the annual Crossroads Cup showdown on the gridiron on Sept. 8 at Sammamish High School in Bellevue. The two schools are separated by a mere three miles. Interlake outscored Sammamish 33-6 in the second half to seal the victory. The Saints led the Totems 13-6 at halftime before dominating the final 24 minutes of play.
Saints’ junior running back Blake Hall, who scored three rushing touchdowns including a spectacular 76-yard touchdown scamper with 8:46 left in the third quarter, said his team knew they had to dial up the intensity as they gathered in the locker room at halftime.
“We just kept emphasizing that we are going to go out there and we’re going to play harder than we had before,” Hall said. “We were just going to keep it on them the whole game.”
Saints’ linebacker Lucas Varela credited the coaching staff for making critical adjustments at halftime.
“We fixed everything from the first half,” Varela said. “We put all of those little mistakes we were making on lockdown. That is what really clinched [the game]. We had some pressure packages and blitzes. It worked really well.”
The Saints defense intercepted Sammamish quarterback Coby Akana three times and consistently put pressure on him throughout the duration of the game. Interlake junior quarterback Elijah Barnes, who was in his second game as the Saints’ starting quarterback, had two rushing touchdowns against the Totems.
The Saints success on the ground didn’t surprise the starting quarterback. Interlake finished the game with six rushing touchdowns. Interlake freshman Clement Dilinseger scored the final rushing touchdown of the night with 3:19 left in regulation. Saints’ sophomore Tyler Zumek scored on an electrifying 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter as well.
“The key was to just trust the big guys up front,” Barnes said. “They’re not the biggest line but we trust them and they did great out there. All of the credit goes to them.”
Interlake head coach Brian Hartline said running the football on the offensive side of the ball is his team’s bread and butter.
“We’re going to hang our hat on our offensive line. We are a running team, more than even last year. Corban (Lawlor), Lucas (Varela), Bradley (Kidwell), Mitchell (Soohoo) and Alexis (Anaya) have all been out here for two years. They’re not big kids, but they’re smart, feisty and tough,” Hartline said of the Saints’ front five.
Sammamish head coach Rylen Akana was optimistic following the first loss of the 2017 season for his squad. The Totems defeated Kingston 41-2 in the season opener on Sept. 1. Rylen’s son Coby connected with wide receiver Tao McClinton on a 16-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. Coby also connected with tight end Ryan Hervey on a 78-yard touchdown pass in third quarter.
“We got a lot of season left,” Akana said. “We have to learn from this game. We’ll get some good film work in and just get ready for next week.”
The Totems (1-1) will play the Liberty Patriots at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15.
Hartline is already looking forward to his team’s matchup with the Lakeside Lions at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15.
“They throw the ball a lot,” Hartline said following the win against the Totems. “It is going to be a lot of 7-on-7 this week at practice I imagine. I need to see their film. I haven’t had an opportunity to watch them yet.”
Varela is confident his squad will rise to the occasion against Lakeside.
“They have a small roster,” he said. “We need to hit them early, hit them fast and get them tired.”