High School Sports

Ifanse scorches Timberline defense, ends undefeated run in quarterfinals

Timberline kick returner Colton Steepy goes airborne on a kickoff return against Bellevue during Saturday night's 3A state football quarterfinal game at Bellevue High School on Nov. 18, 2017.
Timberline kick returner Colton Steepy goes airborne on a kickoff return against Bellevue during Saturday night's 3A state football quarterfinal game at Bellevue High School on Nov. 18, 2017. toverman@theolympian.com

Timberline High School’s run in the Class 3A state football playoffs is over.

And, for the fourth time in program history, the Blazers had their season cut short by Bellevue.

Entering the state quarterfinals as one of three remaining undefeated teams in the bracket, the seventh-ranked Blazers searched for their first postseason win over the historic powerhouse.

But, the fourth-ranked Wolverines dashed any hope of that early on Saturday night at Bellevue High School.

“Bellevue is a really good team,” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. “They’re still the Bellevue of old.”

Returning from a one-year postseason ban imposed by the WIAA for rules violations, and after vacating two of its state titles, Bellevue is back in the hunt for a championship.

And the Wolverines don’t appear ready to slow down any time soon.

Bellevue running back Isaiah Ifanse, a former Thurston County youth league player, ripped off four touchdown runs Saturday to lift the Wolverines to a 42-7 win and a berth in next week’s semifinals.

Bellevue running back Isaiah Ifanse pops into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown run during Saturday night's 3A state football quarterfinal game against Timberline at Bellevue High School on Nov. 18, 2017. Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com

“He’s the real deal,” Mullen said. “He’s got great vision. What I think I liked about him the most was he’s a sportsman. He’s a good dude.”

Before meeting Bellevue, Timberline’s defense was holding opponents to 43.9 yards per game on the ground.

But, Ifanse quickly tilted that average, rushing for 216 yards on 21 carries, bringing his season total to just over 2,300 yards.

Timberline’s defense was depleted, missing senior linebacker Mason Simeta to a one-game suspension, and seniors Chase Bowes and Isaac Thompson to injuries.

And Bellevue took advantage, racking up 411 yards of total offense and six touchdowns before Timberline ever found the end zone.

“We couldn’t get in a rhythm, they were busting off big runs, we couldn’t get off the field,” Mullen said. “It was tough.”

Ifanse scored his first touchdown on a 2-yard run with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter.

Linebacker Quinn Sullivan doubled Bellevue’s score two minutes later on a 40-yard interception return.

Ifanse added two more touchdowns in the first half of 6 and 5 yards to give Bellevue a 28-0 advantage at the break.

Bellevue scored again on the first play of its opening drive in the second half on a 22-yard pass from Joey Echigoshima to Hunter Hansen.

And Ifanse added his final score on an 18-yard run with 3:38 to play in the third.

Timberline’s only score came with four seconds remaining in the game. Quarterback Hunter Campau tossed a 7-yard touchdown to running back Michael Barnes in the corner, who kept his toes down as he fell out of bounds.

“That was a good way for him to go out,” Mullen said of the 3A South Sound Conference MVP.

Mullen rallied his team following the game and told them not to let this one loss take away from their season.

Timberline (11-1) won its second consecutive 3A SSC title this season, and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.

“We had a great run,” Mullen said. “We fought through adversity all year long. … It was a great year. We can’t let one loss define it.”

Bellevue (11-1) plays O’Dea (10-1) in the semifinals next week. The Fighting Irish’s only loss this season was to Eastside Catholic, 21-7, in early October.

Eastside Catholic was knocked out of the playoffs by Garfield on Friday.

Bellevue’s only loss so far this season was to Richland, 24-21, in its season opener. The undefeated Bombers advanced to the 4A state semifinals Friday.

Timberline’s loss Saturday night continues a long string of Bellevue wins over South Sound schools in the state playoffs.

The Wolverines are now 15-3 all-time against schools in the South Sound, with their most playoff wins coming against Timberline (four).

Each time Bellevue has beat the Blazers in the state playoffs, they’ve gone on to win the state title.

Lakes and Peninsula have each lost to the Wolverines in the state playoffs three times.

The last South Sound school to beat Bellevue in the state playoffs was Tumwater in 1993 with a 41-6 win. The T-Birds went on to win the state title.

NO. 7 TIMBERLINE 0 0 0 7_7

NO. 4 BELLEVUE 14 14 14 0_42

B – Isaiah Ifanse 2 run (Jed Michael kick)

B – Quinn Sullivan 40 interception return (Michael kick)

B – Ifanse 6 run (Michael kick)

B – Ifanse 5 run (Michael kick)

B – Hunter Hansen 22 pass from Joey Echigoshima (Michael kick)

B – Ifanse 18 run (Michael kick)

T – Michael Barnes 7 pass from Hunter Campau (Tolby Selvester kick)