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Mountain View defense holds off Rainier Beach challenge

Thunder came up with six straight stops to secure 7-6 playoff win

VANCOUVER — The Mountain View Thunder answered every challenge Saturday night, and there were so many of them.

The Rainier Beach Vikings had six consecutive possessions with a chance to take the lead. The Mountain View defense stopped them six consecutive times.

A one-point game at halftime remained a one-point game the rest of the way, and now Mountain View is one win away from the championship game.

Mountain View running back Jack Mertens (7) eludes Rainier Beach defenders during Saturday’s Class 3A high school football state quarterfinal playoff game at McKenzie Stadium. Mertens scored the only touchdown for the Thunder, which won 7-6 to advance to the semifinals next week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mountain View running back Jack Mertens (7) eludes Rainier Beach defenders during Saturday’s Class 3A high school football state quarterfinal playoff game at McKenzie Stadium. Mertens scored the only touchdown for the Thunder, which won 7-6 to advance to the semifinals next week. Photo by Mike Schultz

Mountain View took down Rainier Beach 7-6 at McKenzie Stadium in a Class 3A state football quarterfinal matchup and will travel to Seattle to face O’Dea next week in the semifinals.

“Our defense was just crazy today,” said Michael Bolds, who had his team-record eighth interception of the season. He also blocked the extra point that turned out to be the difference maker.

“This means everything,” Bolds said. “It’s crazy. Everybody is crazy right now.”

The Thunder are crazy for this time in their lives.

“I love my teammates, and I love this game,” linebacker Andrew Gulliford said. “I’m so happy we get to all play together for at least one more week.”

“We have a sign in the locker room,” defensive lineman Andrew Remlinger said. “Do it for the teams before you. Do it for the teams after you.”

That is what this team was playing for, he said, for all the Thunder.

It took all the Thunder to get this victory. Remlinger, displaying tears of joy after the game, noted this squad’s depth chart. He got injured and had to leave the game. His replacement, Gage Rutherford, with very little experience, was on the field when Mountain View kept shutting down the Vikings.

“This defense was so stingy,” Remlinger said.

Mountain View receiver Phillip Earnhardt (9) jumps for joy in celebration after the Thunder defeated Rainier Beach 7-6 Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the Class 3A high school state playoffs. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mountain View receiver Phillip Earnhardt (9) jumps for joy in celebration after the Thunder defeated Rainier Beach 7-6 Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the Class 3A high school state playoffs. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Thunder opened this game like so many this season — with a touchdown. They went 54 yards on 11 plays. Jack Mertens capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.

No one figured that would be the team’s only score.

The Vikings got on the board midway through the second quarter on a 30-yard pass from Trey Morris to Orin Patu. Bolds got past security to block the extra point.

“I was excited and everything, but I never thought that would be the final score at the end of the game,” Bolds said.

It was because both defenses did their jobs the rest of the evening.

Bolds got an interception to end one Rainier Beach drive. Remlinger had one of the back-to-back sacks the Mountain View defense applied on the Vikings to end the first half.

In the second half, Rainier Beach punted on its first three possessions, then lost the ball on downs on its final drive. Rainier Beach was held to 57 yards rushing.

“We had little mistakes but we fixed them after every play,” linebacker Kobe Anderson said.

“We knew they had some pretty big players,” defensive lineman Justin Lufkin-Quant said. “Everyone rallied to the ball. That really helped us out. When one player got them, all our brothers came in and helped.”

Mountain View got the ball with 5:34 left in the game. And while the offense was not scoring in bunches this night, the offense secured the victory with its most impressive drive of the game.

Garrett Moen, Jack Mertens, Tresean Foreman, and Phillip Earnhardt all carried the ball as the Thunder went 52 yards on 12 clock-killing plays. They went into Victory Formation for the 13th and final play of that drive.

Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson and Thunder quarterback Garrett Moen celebrate Saturday’s state playoff win with a hug. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson and Thunder quarterback Garrett Moen celebrate Saturday’s state playoff win with a hug. Photo by Mike Schultz

That set off a celebration at McKenzie Stadium as the Thunder improved to 11-1 — the most wins in program history — and clinched a berth to the semifinals for the first time since the team went to back-to-back semifinals in 2001 and 2002.

“This feeling is insane,” Lufkin-Quant said. “We trusted Math and Math got us here. This is such a great feeling.”

That would be in reference to Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson, who is in his 11th season with the Thunder.

This 11th season is the best one in school history, in terms of most wins. No Mountain View team has ever made it to the championship game.

“It makes me so happy for Math, so happy for all us seniors,” Kobe Anderson said.

MOUNTAIN VIEW 7, RAINIER BEACH 6

R. Beach 0 6 0 0 — 6

Mtn. View 7 0 0 0 — 0

First quarter

MV — Jack Mertens 3 run (Jude Mullette kick)

Second quarter

RB — Orin Patu 30 pass from Trey Morris (kick blocked)

Individual statistics

RUSHING: Rainier Beach — Xzavier Burton 15-54, Morris 8-(minus 16), De’Monte Brooks 4-(minus 6), Ja’mezz Johnson 2-4, Xavier Bowen 2-21. Mountain View — Mertens 14-70, Garrett Moen 20-76, Tresean Foreman 4-22, Phillip Earnhardt 1-3, Team 1-(minus 2).

PASSING: Rainier Beach — Morris 17-32-1-170. Mountain View — Moen 9-20-2-96.

RECEIVING: Rainier Beach — Bowen 3-29, Patu 5-68, Chaun Hollins Jr. 1-4,Jibril Abdulalim 2-21, Burton 1-3, Sammy King 2-16, Kobe Elleby 3-29. Mountain View — Michael Bolds 4-43, Earnhardt 2-11, Makai Anderson 2-43, Mertens 1-(minus 1).

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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