This is not the same Bellarmine Prep football team that advanced to last year’s Class 4A state title game.
But that doesn’t mean this Lions roster is devoid of talent or that it lacks interesting story lines and characters. It was evident Friday night that fifth-ranked Bellarmine Prep is a complete team fully capable of defending its 4A Narrows title.
The defense came up with a couple of key stops, and the Lions got a late 33-yard field goal from Matthew Philichi to upend Lakes, 16-14, in a non-league contest at Harry Lang Stadium.
“Obviously we’re trying to forget about (last season), just because we can’t relive the past,” Philichi said.
Friday’s first half was plenty forgettable for Bellarmine (2-0), but the second half was a different ballgame.
After Xzavier Weston’s 23-yard touchdown run put Lakes up, 14-0, with
3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the third quarter, Bellarmine quickly responded with Nathan Goltermann’s 9-yard touchdown run.
The Lions pulled to
14-13 midway through the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Lou Millie took the ball in from 1 yard out, but Bellarmine botched the snap on the extra point.
Lakes turned the ball over on downs on the Bellarmine 22-yard line with 5:51 left. The Lions then turned to the 5-foot-4, 122-pound Goltermann, who carried the ball on eight of the drive’s 12 plays to set up Philichi’s winning kick with 1:12 left.
“He’s a tough, tough kid,” Bellarmine coach Tom Larsen said of Goltermann. “He’s so small and slippery and quick. He gets the job done. We call him a big man because he plays like a big man.”
Despite missing a field goal earlier in the game, Philichi helped the Lions get a little revenge on the team that handed them their lone regular-season defeat last year.
“I’ve been practicing all week for (the kick),” he said. “I didn’t expect it to come down to that, obviously. But I was prepared for anything.”
Lakes tried to answer after Philichi’s field goal, but the Bellarmine defense picked off Kemonee Jenkins on the first play of the drive to seal the win.
Goltermann, a junior, finished with a career-high 117 yards rushing on 23 carries for the Lions.
“I was taking hits,” he said with a grin. “It was hard, but I kept on pushing through it.”
Said Philichi of Goltermann: “Really, the only people who see him being extremely small is the other team. We see him being just as big as everybody else. That kid is going to be the best running back in the state.”
Caleb Lyons had a 6-yard touchdown run and finished with 86 yards on 17 carries for Lakes (0-2).