TACOMA — Let us focus, for a moment, on the positive.
On the 11 straight wins.
On the season that is the envy of nearly every high school football team in the state.
On the thing that led Jessica Koreski, mother of Skyview lineman Jonah Koreski, to say, “The team, the seniors, have been together since they were little. There’s just this bond you see out there.”
That is what will linger. At least as long and at least as strong as the Storm’s 38-7 loss to Skyline of Sammamish on Saturday in the Class 4A state championship game.
Skyview made it to the final night of the high school football season, which is a whole lot better than not making it. The problem is that Max Browne made it there, as well.
Browne, Skyline’s quarterback, threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, giving him 44 TDs and more than 4,000 yards for the season. And it’s a good thing that he made it to Saturday’s televised title game: He needs to get used to playing on TV because he’s going to be doing it a lot in the coming years.
Browne was a problem for Skyview. But so was Skyline’s defense. A Storm offense that had scored at least 31 points in 11 consecutive games was left struggling to make first downs, with every yard being as grueling as the Hundred Years’ War.
But that is where the bond comes in. Because Skyview made it interesting.
The Storm got a 32-yard TD pass from Kieran McDonagh to Reiley Henderson to make it 17-7. They got an interception. They drove back into Skyline territory.
They displayed moxie and grit and verve, which is what you would expect from a team that had endured to this point of this season. Which is what you would expect from people who have played the game for years dreaming of this night.
“It’s been our lives since freshman year,” Skyview senior Riley Bockmier said. “I thought we were going to make it, but we came up short.”
That happens sometimes. And it hurts.
Yet the overriding lesson of the evening did not reside in the outcome, but the effort. And the experience. And the journey.
The Storm made it Week 14 of the high school season, and they carried a community with them.
“Not only do you have the coaching staff, but we have an amazing booster club, and I can’t say enough about the moms and dads,” assistant coach Jeff LaCasse said. “Each one of us is just a small piece of this program. It’s great to be a part of that puzzle.”
A puzzle, yes. That’s what a team and a program are like. And when the pieces fit together, you find yourself in the state championship game.
“It’s too bad we didn’t play our best game in the biggest spotlight,” coach Steve Kizer said. “But we started 0-2, then had a great 11-game run. I love these kids.”
Make no mistake: Skyline was the better team. It’s no accident the Spartans have won three titles in four years and have reached five consecutive championship games. But the score did not accurately reflect the game, as Skyline tacked on three touchdowns in the final five minutes, and the outcome did not reflect the effort.
So as the tears flowed and the hugs became prevalent, the Skyview players displayed their sorrow. They’ll never forget that disappointment. But they’ll never forget how they got here, either.
Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at email@example.com. To “Like” him on Facebook, search for “Greg Jayne - The Columbian”