The Prep Blog

Covering high school sports in Tacoma, Pierce County and the South Sound

NOTICE: The Prep Blog has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved The Prep Blog.
Visit the new section.

Led by Browne, No. 1 Skyline spoils Bellarmine Prep’s 4A title-game debut, 49-24

Post by Todd Milles / The News Tribune on Dec. 1, 2012 at 11:03 pm with 12 Comments »
December 2, 2012 11:03 am

Folks in Tacoma waited 14 years for another early-December night like Saturday night – when one of their own schools played for the Class 4A state football championship.

But what – or in particular, whom – will be talked about for decades is the talented teenager who finished up his storied career in style at Skyline High School.

Yeah, quarterback Max Browne was kind of an out-of-town party-crasher in his own right at the Tacoma Dome, but he wasn’t about to let the hometown Bellarmine Prep Lions go out as the kings of the classification in their first attempt.

Browne set Gridiron Classic records for passing yards (384) and touchdown passes (four), and No. 1 Skyline closed out the third-ranked Lions, 49-24, to bring home its seventh state title in football.

With 12,951 yards, Browns also leaves as the state’s all-time passing leader, breaking DeSales’ Brian Lindgren’s mark (12,575).

“Let’s just say,” Bellarmine Prep coach Tom Larsen said, “he is pretty dog-gone good.”

The Spartans scored quickly when they had to (75 yards in 81 seconds on their opening drive). And they showed they could sustain long drives as well (90 yards in 14 plays in 6:10) in building a 20-3 lead midway through the second quarter.

To its credit – and to the surprise of the Spartans’ coaching staff – Bellarmine Prep did not sit back in coverage and let Browne survey the field for long periods of time. The Lions brought a lot of pressure, even knocking the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder to the turf a few times. And they played Skyline’s receiver primarily in man-to-man coverage.

“It just showed they were going to try and get after us, and make us make decisions fast,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “They took some gambles … and that is why we have the ability with our no-huddle to change and get into some plays that we thought would give us an advantage.”

When Browne had time, he consistently hit his secondary options in receivers Trevor Barney and Matt Sinatro.

“I had a feeling they would go out and try it (man-to-man coverage),” said Browne, the two-time Gatorade player of the year from Washington headed off to Southern California. “We just had to come out … and win the one-on-one matchups. For the most part, we did.”

After running back Cedric Cooper gave Skyline a 20-3 lead with his 3-yard touchdown run with 6:18 to go in the first half, the Lions ran four plays, and were forced to punt on their next series.

The snap back to punter Joey Bottjer went all the way back into the Lions’ end zone. Bottjer did well just to knock the football out of play for a safety – and 22-3 Skyline lead.

Skyline got the ball back, and scored immediately as Browne hit Barney in stride for a 36-yard scoring pass with 3:09 remaining, and the Spartans were in firm control, 29-3.

The Lions scored their first touchdown on Sefo Liufau’s 22-yard strike to Chandler with less than a minute remaining, but Browne took his offense 48 yards in 40 seconds, and the Spartans ended the first half on Sean McDonald’s 49-yard field goal, which was a new 4A title-game record.

Liufau (33-of-45, 376 yards, three touchdowns) nearly matched Brown in terms of production, but just faced too big a deficit in the second half. Receivers Garrett McKay had 11 catches for 128 yards, and Drew Griffin added 10 catches for 117 yards for the Lions in a losing effort.

“We really got the message across to the kids – this is the state championship game, and we’ve got to play our best,” Taylor said.

The last time a city school played for the 4A title was in 1998 when Wilson lost to Pasco, 17-0.

PHOTO GALLERY: Skyline defeats Bellarmine Prep, 49-24

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. onetuffgrandma says:

    Sounds like they need to bus even more “out-of-towners” into Bellarmine and waive their entrance standards and tuition… You know, because football is so important.

  2. whitecap says:

    Here’s some stats on recent history in WA state football champs:
    4A: Skyline wins in 2012, wins in 2011, runner-up in 2009, wins in 2008, 2007 won 3A, wins in 2005
    3A: Bellevue wins in 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, runner-up in 2007 when they were beaten by Skyline (remember them?), 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002
    2A: Lynden wins five out of the last seven.

    I have a question. How is this possible? Any ideas besides the old “winning tradition” thing? Maybe just really good football genes in those areas?

  3. mmillie says:

    What? Why don’t I know about this bus ride to Bellarmine? Hey, Ed, swing that bus by our house – Lou needs a ride to school. Onetuffgrandma – you really shouldn’t comment on things of which you have no knowledge.

  4. Onetuffgrandma sounds like oneroughgrandma, with a chip on her shoulder.She must be loads of fun (not!) at holiday family gatherings! We’re so proud of you Lions!!! Our family has been blessed to be a part of the Bellarmine community and the faith-filled football program, which has produced hundreds of servant warriors, thanks to an amazing coaching staff.

  5. Hold your heads up Lions, did your best and played all the way to the end. The South Sound couldn’t be more PROUD of you !!

    Onetuffgrandma – you clearly have Bellermine confused with Bellevue on the “out-of-towners” remark.

  6. Larry365 says:


  7. LeePHilI says:

    I have been bleeding blue since the fall of 1989, when my son first played at Bellarmine. I’ve seen some great high school teams – South K, Kentwood, etc – and nothing matches this Skyline team. They should be given due accolades.

    Meanwhile….nice job Lions. #2 in the State is nothing to sneeze at.

  8. littleshawtyduece says:

    hey onetuffgrandma you sound like a jealous ol bag maybe you should go visit your kids in jail to cheer you up.

  9. dontbesilly says:

    The Bellevue kids have been playing together since they were kids. I believe in my heart of hearts, this is what Kitna would like Tacoma would like to do. Also, the coaches have to know how to make these young men believe they can do it.

    As for the Bellarmine situation, I agree they have been more concerned about athletics as of late, rather than bringing in stellar academics.

  10. What a game! As a BP alum, I was proud of the way we played, even in the loss. Did anyone see USC coach Lane Kiffin at the game? He was standing in the corner on the Skyline side during the first half, watching his stud recruit.

    onetuffgrandma: a good friend of mine coached a lot of these seniors, years ago in junior football. Many of them have been together in the Lions system since fifth or sixth grade. They are not “out of towners.” When I was in eighth grade, two stud athletes took the entrance exam at Bellarmine and attempted to get it. Both were already prolific athletes, even in eighth grade. Both ended up not attending and going to a crosstown rival. Both ended up playing Division 1 sports in the Pac Ten and Big Ten conferences, respectively. I can’t say for sure if we have or have not ever recruited a kid for sports, but if we did, don’t you think we would’ve recruited those two?

  11. As a parent of four Bellarmine student-athletes, I can say from personal experience that school comes first. Bellarmine’s academic standards are tough and are upheld for all students. If a student-athelete cannot meet the academic standards, that student doesn’t play. Period. Bellarmine raises the bar and proves that students can excell both in the classroom and in sports, in service within the community, in a variety of clubs and ministries, all in a faith-filled diverse environment. It’s a pretty special place.

  12. wsulion says:

    Those who know the Bellarmine Lions know that most are scholar athletes, all have to keep their grades in check. They serve their school and community in other sports, clubs, service projects, in ASB, in ministries, and academic pursuits. From what I’ve read about the 2012 Skyline team, they are scholar athletes, as well, and many also serve their school and community outside of football and classes. Every player and coach in the Dome Saturday night most likely gave their all for family, school, and community. That’s how they got there! Proud families, coaches, classmates, teammates, and fans. The amount of time and preparation given by both teams in reaching such an opportunity is immeasurable…amazing programs, amazing support, intense effort every day, the extra mile. Proud of ‘em all!

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0