The Bellevue Wolverines offense was unstoppable in its 57-21 playoff victory over the Meadowdale Mavericks on Nov. 8.
The victory secured Bellevue’s spot in the 3A state tournament. The No. 7-seeded Wolverines (8-2) will host the No. 10-seeded Lakes Lancers (7-2) at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15 in the first round of the tournament.
With a handful of sophomores playing important roles for the Wolverines, head coach Michael Kneip said the younger kids can learn a lot in the postseason.
“It’s a long grind and it’s just continuing to sacrifice and get better,” Kneip said. “Everything becomes that much more important, health, hydrating all that kind of stuff. But it should be fun. There’s only 16 teams left, and that’s what you want.”
Kneip said the running backs and the offensive line performed well, not punting the football all night.
“I think we’re really confident on offense right now, which is fun.” Kneip said. “Calling the plays is whatever the kids want. But that’s hard work. We rep the heck out of it and our offense starts to get better.”
Bellevue senior running back Joby Schneider said everyone on offense knows what to do.
“We played really fast,” Schneider said. “We all know our assignments and where we’re going and what to do.”
The Wolverines began the game with 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off with a 2-yard run from Schneider to put the Wolverines up 7-0. After forcing a three-and-out, Bellevue quarterback Bryson Sleeper threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joshua Goates. The Wolverines added a two-point conversion to take a 15-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Wolverines extended their lead to 22-0 three minutes into the second quarter with a 49-yard touchdown run from running back Alex Reid. After a missed field goal by the Mavericks (5-5), Schneider found the end zone on a 20-yard touchdown run to give the Wolverines a 29-0 lead at halftime.
Meadowdale opened up the second half with a 28-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hunter Moen to wide receiver Mason Vaughn to make it a 29-7 game with 9:35 left in the third quarter. Bellevue had a quick response courtesy of a 79-yard touchdown run from Schneider to put the Wolverines up 36-7.
Moen and Vaughn connected again for a 15-yard Mavericks touchdown, but once again, the Wolverines answered right back with a 22-yard touchdown run from running back Dan Marino to make it a 43-14 game after the third quarter.
Meadowdale cut the Wolverines lead to 43-21 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter with a 76-yard touchdown pass from Moen to Vaughn, the wide receiver’s third touchdown catch of the game.
After recovering the Mavericks onside kick attempt, the Wolverines put the game away with a 6-yard touchdown run from sophomore Chase Taylor. Bellevue scored again with 2:41 left in the game, a 32-yard touchdown run from running back Cade Jochums to finish the scoring at 57-21.
Schneider said the biggest positive from the game was the contributions of their sophomores.
“All of our sophomores that are starting really stepped up and were able to play at a varsity speed,” Schneider said. “We just have to pretend they’re a senior and get them going with everyone else, they’re not sophomores in our eyes.”
With the competition getting bigger as they head into the state tournament, Kneip said the Wolverines have to avoid playing from behind and stop their opponents from getting big plays.
“Limit the big plays,” Kneip said. “That’s the name of the game, limit the big plays and let our offense chip, because we aren’t going to have as many big runs against next week’s team.”