Juanita football advances to 3-0 beating Mercer Island 28-13 | Slideshow

Three weeks into the high school football season and the Juanita Rebels have maintained a perfect record, starting off 3-0. The Rebels faced Mercer Island in a Thursday evening match up at Bergh Field, winning 28-13 against the Islanders.

The Rebels knew coming into the game against Mercer Island they'd have to focus on breaking up big passes from Islander quarterback Jeff Lindquist.

"We had a big challenge and we knew that that quarterback (Lindquist) is pretty dang good. He's awesome. I felt like our guys were in position most of the night, and he really made us work," said Shuan Tarantola, the head coach for Juanita. On the whole he said the Rebels were more balanced Thursday night compared to the previous week.

"We weren't real balanced last week and we felt like it made our jobs harder for us. We strive for balance and I think some things opened up for us," said Tarantola. "We just need to do a better job of eliminating those penalties. We couldn't get our of our way for a while."

The Rebels scored the first touchdown of the night when Andre Casino ran in a 15 yard touchdown for a 7-0 start with 6:32 left in the first quarter.

Mercer Island made their first scoring attempt during a 42-yard field goal kick by Alex Wood with 3:18 left in the first, but it sailed just wide, keeping the Rebels ahead at the end of the first.

The Islanders defense did their best to stymie the Rebels, but key plays allowed Juanita to drive forward. Quarterback Derek Kaufman connected with senior Jarret Finau in the middle of the second on a 9-yard pass for the Rebels second touchdown of the night, earning a 14-0 score.

"I think our quarterback played well," said Tarantola. "He didn't make mistakes, he put the ball where he needed to be." He added that he felt the team did well with the passing game against Mercer Island, not necessarily a game plan they've used in recent weeks.

"It's hasn't been a situation where we have felt like we haven't been able to throw the ball," said the coach. "We come up with a game plan each week and try to stick to it as much as possible. Our game plan was to balance it up a little bit, where last week our plan was to pound it. They both worked for us to win. We're confident in our offense to be balanced, if that's what we think will help us win."

Not willing to be slowed the Rebels offense quickly regained the ball after stalling Mercer Island through four downs. Charles Benjamin made a 9-yard touchdown run of his won with 2:12 left in the half for a 21-0 lead.

Unwilling to let the half end with 21 unanswered points the Islanders began to pick up their momentum, following a huge run down the field by Nick Sinclair before he was stalled on the 24-yard line. With less than a minute left in the half the Islanders kept their pace as quarterback Jeff Lindquist made a 2-yard run for the Islander's first goal of the night with 46 seconds left on the clock. The half ended with a 21-7 score.

Both teams pushed back and forth during the third, with neither advancing far enough for a scoring chance to end go into the last 12 minutes with the same score.

The last quarter started with a big Juanita drive down the field, which ended with senior Jeremiah Laufasa's first touchdown of the night, with 9:12 left on the clock. The senior ran for more than 140 yards during the game.

"Jeremiah Laufasa had a really good game, and Jarrett Finau played great," said the Rebels coach. "This is kind of the night that Jarret played his best football."

Mercer Island kept looking for their chances, only to be stopped and burn through downs in the fourth quarter. In a slight repeat of their first game of the season, the Islanders put together a convincing drive with under two minutes on the clock, when they scored. The kick was blocked for a 28-13 end to the game.

The Rebels, now 3-0, will travel to take on Sammamish at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24. Top priority will be to eliminate mistakes, said Tarantola.

"First we have to focus on our mistakes," the coach said about preparing for tonight's match. "We made some mistakes, we played sloppy at times and that's not going to get it done for us. We have to work on eliminating mental mistakes."

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