Mercer Island High running back Jordano Mark wasn’t going to let a sprained knee derail him from competing in the biggest game of the season to date.
Mark, who didn’t practice on Halloween due to the injury, had four rushing touchdowns in Mercer Island’s 28-7 victory against Redmond in a loser-out tiebreaker playoff game on Nov. 1 at Juanita High.
Mercer Island improved its overall record to 5-5 with the win while Redmond dropped to 3-8. The game took place due to a three-way tie between Interlake, Mercer Island and Redmond at the end of the regular season. All three teams were 2-3 in 3A KingCo play.
Both games consisted of just two quarters of football.
Interlake defeated Redmond, 27-14, in the first game of the night to clinch the KingCo No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Mercer Island clinched the No. 3 seed from KingCo with the win against Redmond. Redmond was eliminated from postseason contention by the Islanders.
Redmond head coach Jason Rimkus was impressed with Mark’s running ability.
“He ran over our best kids,” Rimkus said. “The kids were there to make the plays. Mercer Island was just better than us.”
While Mark dominated on the offensive side of the ball, the Mercer Island defense surrendered just one touchdown against Redmond. With Mercer Island ahead 14-0, Redmond quarterback Teryn Berry connected on a 22-yard touchdown strike in the back of the end zone to wide receiver Bradley Cagle with 10:26 left in the game. It was the first and only time Redmond scored in the contest. Mercer Island outscored Redmond 14-0 in the final 10 minutes to seal the victory.
Rimkus was proud of his team’s showing in its final contest of the 2016 season.
“I told them that we (coaching staff) were really proud of their character. We battled. We got down and we had opportunities to make plays but we just didn’t quite make them. The guys didn’t hang their heads, they kept fighting,” Rimkus said. “That is all you can ask for. They did the best they could.”
In the first game, big plays in all three phases of the game propelled Interlake to a victory against Redmond.
With Saints clinging to a 20-14 lead against Redmond with less than three minutes left in regulation, Redmond had a first down at the Saints’ 45-yard line. Berry unleashed a pass deep down the left sideline toward the end zone. The ball was intended for Cagle but was intercepted by Interlake defensive back Bryce Hardy at the Saints’ 2-yard line. Hardy returned the ball close to midfield after picking off the pass.
Berry’s pass was on target but Hardy won the 50/50 ball near the Interlake goal line. On the Saints’ ensuing offensive possession, senior quarterback Duncan Varela put the game out of reach with a 53-yard touchdown run. Interlake improved its overall record to 7-3 with the win.
Rimkus didn’t regret having his quarterback take a chance with a deep ball in the closing minutes of regulation.
“We told the kids we were going to make it rain and make it fly. We did that but it just didn’t go our way,” Rimkus said.
Redmond cut Interlake’s lead to 14-7 courtesy of a Berry 7-yard touchdown pass to Devon La Pierre with 9:36 left in regulation. On the ensuing kickoff, Naoki Harmer scored on a electrifying 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, giving Interlake a 20-7 lead with 9:18 left in the game. The two-score lead proved to be huge for Interlake as Cagle scored on a 68-yard touchdown catch, cutting Interlake’s lead to six points on the next possession.
Rimkus said his team game plan centered upon Interlake’s speediest offensive weapon.
“We always wanted to know where No. 1 (Harmer) was at. Any deep shots (passes) we were trying to throw away from him because he had the speed to catch up. We always knew where he was even in the running game,” Rimkus said of Harmer.