There were a multitude of hugs, photos and yells of victory on the Pop Keeney Stadium field after all was said and done.
A smiling Gabriel Johnson, who had just helped lead his Bothell High team to victory, even tried to catch his reflection in the 4A KingCo football championship trophy.
Bothell rebounded from a 21-7 second-quarter deficit to defeat Eastlake, 47-24, on Oct. 31 to notch the league championship. Bothell (7-2 overall) was the Crown Division champion and Eastlake (7-2 overall) topped the Crest Division. Both squads were 4-0 in divisional play.
Bothell will host Auburn Riverside in the playoffs at 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Pop Keeney Stadium. North Creek (6-2) will play Kennedy Catholic at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Renton Memorial Stadium.
Cougar quarterback Andrew Sirmon was beaming after the Eastlake game as people strolled by and patted him on the back. He scored on two 1-yard runs and passed for three touchdowns to Colin Fisherkeller (3 yards), Blake Bickhaus (34 yards) and Jordyn Turner (64 yards). Tala Tevaga scored on a 9-yard run and Fisherkeller tallied on an 11-yard blocked-punt return.
Bickhaus’ touchdown catch gave Bothell its first lead of the game with 1:07 remaining in the first half.
“We start out real slow and we turned it around. We’ve got a lot of passion,” Sirmon said. “We told ourselves, ‘Come on now, it’s the KingCo championship. You don’t get to play for these all the time, you gotta make it count.’ We made it count, we came back.”
Sirmon credited his receivers, linemen and running backs for helping make things happen for him.
“Without them, those catches wouldn’t be made, I wouldn’t have time to throw. Man, it was just a team win,” Sirmon said.
Offensive and defensive lineman Johnson made several big plays and recovered a fumble toward the end of the second quarter. Crucial plays that set up touchdowns were an interception by Sam Stewart, a 53-yard reception by Turner and a 23-yard reception by Evan Berry.
“It’s just relentless effort, always, every single down we’ve gotta go 100 percent. I would like to thank all the coaching staff, because they are always coaching us to give our full effort,” said Johnson before he ran over to join his teammates for a group photo with the trophy.
With several leis around his neck, Tevaga proudly spoke about what his team had just accomplished. His touchdown run tied the game at 21-21 with 3:19 left in the first half. Bothell rattled off 33 unanswered points after trailing 21-7.
“Our big thing was to finish, ‘cause sometimes we come out really strong, and sometimes in the second half we don’t come out as hard as we did in the first. Once we started to go down, I wanted to make sure all of us boys were in it, and we finished,” said Tevaga, adding that Bothell kept its energy level high once the Cougars began lighting up the scoreboard.
Heading into the district playoffs, Tevaga said the Cougars need to take advantage of the momentum on their side.
“A lot of people doubted us from the beginning, going from 1-2. After that O’Dea game, we just wanted to make sure we switched and kept that momentum,” he said. “Just wanna make sure we keep it going — no slowing down.”