The longest consecutive winning streak in the nation came to an end on Friday night.
Perhaps the weight of carrying that nation-best streak was too much. Perhaps it was just Bellevue’s time. Whatever it was, the program’s historic dominance inside and out of the state of Washington finally ran out.
After 67 straight victories, No. 6 Bellevue fell short in its 13th state title appearance in the past 14 years. Eastside Catholic pulled away from the Wolverines to capture the Class 3A crown by a final score of 35-13, a stunning turn against a team that had consistently dominated foes all season, including tough out of state opposition.
For Eastside, the victory is a monumental one. They dominated on the ground and through the air on offense; running back Brandon Wellington had three touchdowns on 110 yards while quarterback Harley Kirsch was 20-for-22 with 188 yards through the air, adding two touchdowns plus 97 yards on the ground.
“He played phenomenal,” coach Jeremy Thielbahr said of Kirsch. “Doing what we asked him to do, staying within the offense, keeping it within the framework of what we needed. It was amazing.”
Bellevue had ended Eastside’s season in each of the last four seasons, including in the state final the last two years.
“It’s one of those things you’re working your tail off, you want it so bad, and you keep missing it by an inch. Just barely missing it,” said Eastside Catholic quarterback Harley Kirsch. “And now to finally come and to have the season that we had and win it is a really good feeling.”
The Crusaders got the upper hand on their heavily favored foes in the second quarter and then built in the third quarter, keyed by a particularly stingy defense. The Wolverines could never get their high octane offense going,
Then again, that same Bellevue offense had struggled to get out of second gear in recent weeks. On Friday, it finally found itself in too deep a hole, against a defense that simply refused to bend.
Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said the Eastside Catholic team took advantage of what they had physically to run the ball well against the Wolverines.
“We just left too many plays out there,” Goncharoff said. “And then when we had the opportunities, we had to hit every play and they just did what they wanted to do.”
All good things come to an end. For Bellevue, that end came Friday.
Contributing: Allison Thomasseau, KING 5 Sports