It was something the Bothell faithful had seen before. The opening kickoff. Number 20 back to return. An effervescent atmosphere. A big-time game. A chance to prove themselves once again.
The Bothell Cougar’s matchup against the undefeated Redmond Mustangs started off with a bang on homecoming night, as a play developed before spectator’s eyes that looked awfully reminiscent of Bothell’s very first play of the season. 2015 ATH Sam McPherson caught the opening kickoff at his own 8-yard line and what would prove to be a reoccurring theme on the night, broke multiple tackles as he wound his way down the field and eventually, untouched into the end zone.
“It felt great,” said McPherson. “I did the same thing against Couer d’Alene to start the season. I thought it was a good thing and a good spark for our team. After that, we put up another 14 points real quick so it was a great feeling to take one back to start off the game and set the tone.”
But the 5’11” 190-pound junior wasn’t finished after the opening kickoff. McPherson gave the Mustangs nightmares all night as he found holes in the defense that were bigger than he had discovered all season. Add in McPherson’s strength to the occasion and you get a 175-yard performance with three total touchdowns on the night.
However, the Mustangs were not down and out the whole game, as it may seem. After an embarrassing first quarter performance where the Mustangs were beaten badly in the special teams department with the opening kickoff and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown, the entire team rebounded and responded well in the second quarter.
The defense was staunch and was able to intercept two of 2015 Bothell QB Ross Bowers’ passes. The offense was able to capitalize off of one of the defense’s crucial stops in the quarter. 2014 QB Zach Wheat connected with 2014 WR Chris Carpenter on a play late in the quarter where it seemed like Wheat was going to be sacked for a loss. It couldn’t be said for the rest of the night, but Wheat stayed strong in the pocket and found Carpenter wide open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
Despite findings themselves down only 21-7 at halftime, the Mustangs weren’t able to get anything going in the second half. Ross Bowers rebounded from a disappointing first half and lead the Bothell offense to another big half as they put up 28 points on the board. Bowers talked about the key to that success in the second half.
“They (Redmond) gave us a lot of open holes to throw into and the cutback lanes when we were running the ball were open a majority of the time,” Bowers explained. “They rolled with a cover 3 for a good bit, but mainly played a cover 4. It was nice to rely on my teammates to make plays when I was giving Redmond chances to stay in it.”
One member of the junior-laden Bothell team that Bowers connected with multiple times on the night was 2015 WR Jackson Keimig. It was a big game for Keimig, as he was facing his former teammates from Redmond, and he knew that coming into the night. Some jeers could be heard from the Redmond section throughout the night, but when it was all said and done, Keimig had the last laugh as he caught one touchdown on the night off of a pass from a fellow wide receiver on a trick play.
“It was just a double pass,” Keimig said. “Bowers threw it to the down screen as I ran a vertical. It was good to add some trickery into the offense. It feels great to get the win. Still a lot of love for Redmond, but it was good to get the win.”
Keimig is just one of the many weapons on a talented Bothell squad that also boasts 2015 WR Dayzell Wilson. Bowers was able to find Wilson more times than not on the night, as he ended up with over 100-yards receiving and a touchdown in the game.
With McPherson, Bowers, Keimig and Wilson all playing together on one side of the ball, you can imagine the fits they give opposing team’s offensive coordinators. Add in the fact that they are all only juniors and you have a scary preposition on your hands for years to come. Bothell now sits at 4-1 overall with a 2-0 conference record, having completed the toughest part of their season. With two more conference games remaining, Bothell looks to stay strong as they finish off their regular season.
“Being 2-0 in the conference is comforting, but it doesn’t matter until we’re 4-0, so we have to work hard to get there,” Bowers concluded.