The Bellevue Wolverines’ football program will kickoff the Class 3A state playoffs against Oak Harbor at 1 p.m. on Nov. 11 at Bellevue Memorial Stadium.
Bellevue, which has won nine consecutive games since losing 24-21 to Richland in the season opener, are peaking at the right time. The Wolverines are just four games away from hoisting a state championship trophy for the first time since 2013. The Wolverines advanced to the Class 3A state championship game in 2014 and 2015 but were defeated by the Eastside Catholic Crusaders.
During the 2017 season thus far, I have had the opportunity to cover three Wolverines games (wins against Interlake, Mercer Island and Lake Washington). As I made the short drive back to our office on Richards Road in Bellevue following each of these contests, I marveled at the Wolverines’ style of play on the gridiron.
Bellevue plays smash-mouth football. They are especially proficient at running the football and playing stingy defense. That has always been my favorite brand of football to watch since I was a kid. The Wolverines remind me of the 1990 New York Giants. The Giants, who were victorious courtesy of a 20-19 victory against the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV, controlled the clock with their potent rushing attack and played phenomenal defense. The Wolverines are led offensively by senior running back Isaiah Ifanse. Ifanse is the Wolverines’ feature ball carrier and never goes down easily. Ifanse is adept at breaking tackles and possesses solid speed, which translates into a bevy of long runs into the opposing team’s secondaries.
The Wolverines’ defense has surrendered a meager total of 47 points in their past four games. Opponents have trouble moving the chains against Bellevue’s stellar defense. I have always believed that a recipe for success in football at any level is having a dominant running game to go along with a dominant defense.
Bellevue undoubtedly is blessed to have both.
The Wolverines play an old school brand of football. A large contingent of high school football programs in 2017 throw the ball more often than they run it. Four wide receiver sets and spread offenses are increasingly the norm. Bellevue doesn’t do anything fancy and just pounds the rock and stops the run with authority. That should bode well for Bellevue in the Class 3A state playoffs.