SAMMAMISH — Minutes after an impassioned end-of-season speech from their coach and a round of big, sweaty hugs with family members, Garrett Moen ran over to teammate, friend and backfield companion Jack Mertens.
Moen jumped on his back. The two started laughing, one of them doing so through tears.
Mountain View saw its football season end in the 3A state semifinals — a 24-7 defeat — at the hands of defending state champ O’Dea on Saturday afternoon.
In the biting moments after the final horn blared at Skyline’s Spartan Stadium, the quarterback and running back, whose roles as such have been instrumental in the Thunder’s run, combatted pain with levity.
“I was super proud, I’m still super proud,” Jack Mertens said. “Can’t take that away from us.”
Added Moen: “Come this far, you can’t really complain.”
The third-seeded Thunder (11-2) finish with the most wins in school history. Much of its senior class — 31 strong — played part in three consecutive 3A Greater St. Helens League titles.
On Saturday, the Thunder were overpowered and, at times, outmatched.
“It’s just heartbreaking,” senior wide receiver/defensive back Michael Bolds said. “They were big and physical, we knew that, we knew we were going to have to battle out and we did our best out here.”
On the second drive of the game, Mountain View had no trouble advancing the ball into O’Dea territory. But facing 4th and 17 on the opposing 34-yard line, the Thunder went for it and came up short.
O’Dea then pieced together an 11-play, 66-yard drive that ate 4:12 off the clock and ended in a 7-yard touchdown run by Mark Tafia.
The Thunder punted on their next three drives, and O’Dea added a touchdown in the second quarter — a 1-yard run by quarterback Emonte Scott — to take a 14-0 lead into the half.
In the locker room, the message didn’t come from head coach Adam Mathieson, or any of the assistants.
Mountain View team captains spoke up.
“We still got this,” they said. Kobe Anderson spoke. As did Andrew Gulliford.
They recalled the Kelso game, when after a 7-7 halftime score, the team rallied off a 28-point third quarter en route to a season-defining win.
“We felt like we could do that,” senior defensive back Jordan Cook said.
Bolds answered the call.
The senior picked off Scott on the first drive of the third quarter (he holds the program record for most interceptions in a season with nine).
Moen then strung together a seven play, 78-yard drive in which all but one play came through the air. It ended with a 12-yard touchdown pass over the middle to a wide-open Philip Earnhardt.
“It was open all game,” Earnhardt said of Mathieson’s play call. “He was outside a little bit so I ran up, acted like I was blocking and shed an inside route.”
O’Dea missed a field goal on its next drive, which gave Mountain View the ball back, down just seven midway through the third quarter.
But Moen threw an interception on the next play, and O’Dea’s ground-and-pound run game kept the Thunder off the field for much of the game’s remainder.
“Their linemen opened up the holes and our linebackers, safeties, DBs would come in to fill in and they kept getting those eight-yard carries,” senior Makai Anderson said. “Those eight-yard carries kept grinding down the field, (burning) clock.”
That kept the Thunder offense on the sideline, which stunted its ability to get a rhythm, Makai Anderson said.
The Irish finished with 386 yards rushing — 219 of that coming in the second half. Three players had 80 or more yards.
The Thunder felt like they were completely prepared for O’Dea. For a team that meets every day at lunch for player-led film sessions, and a coach that seldom leaves a stone unturned in his game preparation, Mountain View felt like they did all they could.
Makai Anderson said the defense anticipated the majority of the Fighting Irish’s plays.
“We knew exactly what they were running on offense,” Anderson said. “We knew their routes. … They didn’t have much out of their offense in the pass game, but unfortunately kind of tough in their run game.”
Added Mathieson: “They’ve been doing the same things for a long time. They go downhill … it’s a good battle and I’m certainly proud of the group and wish O’Dea best of luck next week.”
Mathieson said he’s never watched the film of a season-ending loss.
At the end of the season, the longtime head coach opts to turn the page and focus on honoring the players and their accomplishments.
That won’t change with Saturday’s loss. (“I never will,” he said.)
“You control the controllables, you play hard, you look up at the scoreboard and it looks like we came up a little bit short, but not for lack of effort,” he said. “Not for lack of preparation. Not for lack of togetherness. What more can you ask for as a coach?”
O’DEA 24, MOUNTAIN VIEW 7
Mt. View 0 0 7 0 — 7
O’Dea 7 7 0 10 — 24
O — Mark Tafia 7 run (Vlad Buchheit)
O — Emonte Scott 1 run (Buchheit kick)
MV — Philip Earnhardt 12 pass from Garrett Moen (Jude Mullette kick)
O — Buchheit 20 yard field goal
O — Scott 1 run (Buchheit kick)
RUSHING — Mountain View: Jack Mertens 10-38, Garrett Moen 10-(-18), Philip Earnhardt 1-9. O’Dea: Emonte Scott 17-87, Mark Tafia 18-135, Cameron Daniels 10-60, Robert Dane Harmann 14-89, Michael Ulugalu 2-4, Jonathon Gilbane 2-11.
PASSING — Mountain View: Garrett Moen 16-24-2-202. O’Dea: Emonte Scott 4-12-1-23.
RECEIVING — Mountain View: Philip Earnhardt 7-66, Michael Bolds 3-54, Jack Mertens 3-61, Makai Anderson 2-22, Rodolfo Montiel 2-12. O’Dea: Andre Davis 2-21, Mark Tafia 1-4, Davyn Patu 1-(-2).