House of horrors?
Den of destruction?
It’s no secret: Mount Tahoma Stadium isn’t a favorite state playoff football site of Bothell High School, which had seen its season end to Bellarmine Prep on that field in three of the past four years.
But to get to one of its favorite sites — the Tacoma Dome — for next week’s Class 4A state semifinals, the No. 1 Cougars first had to end their long-lasting misery.
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And they did it in a big, convincing way. Led by quarterback Ross Bowers and an opportunistic defense, undefeated Bothell overwhelmed Bellarmine Prep, 37-14, in a 4A quarterfinal game in Tacoma.
Bowers, a senior and California commit, threw for 305 yards and a touchdown. Bothell also forced four turnovers — three coming in the first half — and recovered a pooch kickoff early in the game.
The clean game — and ultimately the result — certainly pleased longtime Cougars coach Tom Bainter, who is now one game away from playing in a third 4A title game.
“I feel good for our seniors,” Bainter said. “We did not play a good football game here last year (a 20-17 overtime loss), turning it over four times. They turned the football over this time — and it is hard to win a football game when you do that a lot.”
Bothell quickly went down the field on its opening series, going 80 yards in four plays to grab a 7-0 lead on Caleb Meyer’s 24-yard touchdown run.
And then it came time for Bainter and his coaching staff to put some of the hard lessons of playing in this stadium to their advantage.
On the kickoff, Steven Weedin sent a high pooch kick in an unoccupied area along the left sideline. And it caught the Lions’ receiving team off guard.
“Just a little bit of not watching the ball be kicked,” Bellarmine Prep coach Tom Larsen said.
Bothell linebacker Jacob Johnston raced down and recovered it to set the Cougars’ offense up at the Bellarmine Prep 22-yard line.
“The wind is always tricky here,” Bainter said. “It is the only time we ever play where the wind is a factor. It was a big point in the game.”
Weedin kicked a 35-yard field goal to give Bothell a 10-0 lead before the Bellarmine Prep offense ever saw the field.
The Lions (8-4) never really got going. They totaled 12 yards in the first quarter. Will Roberson was picked off twice — the second interception leading to Meyer’s second scoring run that extended the Cougars’ lead to 27-0 with 5:43 to go in the first half.
And then came the crushing blow for the Lions: Running back Nathan Goltermann-Doyle took a carry, went into the line and was hit hard. He not only fumbled for a third Bellarmine Prep turnover, he stayed on the turf clutching his knee.
Larsen confirmed after the game the injury appeared serious.
Bothell (12-0) turned that fumble into one more first-half touchdown — an 8-yard Damani St. John-Watkins run up the middle with less than five minutes remaining.
“I tell you, when you give the ball up, it doesn’t help you very much,” Larsen said. “They just didn’t make the mistakes we did. Hats off to them, Bainter gets them ready.”
Ahmad Lewis did rush for 129 yards on 21 carries, scoring Bellarmine Prep’s first touchdown on a 5-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. And the Lions did sack Bowers five times.
“This is kind of tough,” Bellarmine Prep linebacker Erik Glueck said. “We played our hearts out. They beat us.”