Leading 42-14 in the third quarter of the Washington Class 3A state championship game Friday, Bellevue (Wash.) appeared in position to end a troubled season on a positive note. Instead, a furious comeback by No. 23 Eastside Catholic (Sammamish, Wash.) added insult to injury and left Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff pondering his future.
Eastside roared back and Washington commit Brandon Wellington ran in the game-tying TD with just more than two minutes remaining in regulation and then the game-winner in overtime for a 48-42 victory.
In the wake of a series of allegations involving improper recruiting and academic practices, Goncharoff told the Tacoma News Tribune he was unsure whether he would return to the school where he has won a state-record 11 state championships.
“I’m going to talk with my wife and family and make some decisions on whether I want to do this thing anymore. It’s been the longest year of my life. Nobody should go through what these kids and what I’ve had to go through in a year for not doing anything.”
The list of allegations facing Bellevue is long, highlighted by charges of recruiting middle schoolers from surrounding towns to Bellevue to play football as well as academic violations involving sending football players to a’diploma mill’ rather than actually attending Bellevue.
Add it all up and it looks like the Bellevue dynasty is on the verge of crumbling.
This is the fourth consecutive year Bellevue and Eastside Catholic have faced off for the Class 3A championship. Bellevue won the first two and Eastside Catholic has taken the last two.
Wellington noted that this win proved that last year’s victory was no fluke.
“Proving them wrong and showing that we’re dogs and fighters at heart – that’s special,” he told TEGNA partner KING5.