Crucial mistakes hurt Rebels in loss to Mount Si | Prep football

Juanita quarterback Riley Hilliker (7) looks for an open pass during the team
Juanita quarterback Riley Hilliker (7) looks for an open pass during the team's loss to Mount Si last week.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Kirkland Reporter

Close to tying the game in the fourth quarter, the Juanita football team faced a series of setbacks that eventually ended the game with a loss to Mount Si. The final score was 28-21 for the Wildcats.

Juanita head coach Shaun Tarantola said his team was in the game, but every time they got momentum, the Rebels made mistakes to hold themselves back. Despite the mistakes, he said the team has made great progress in the areas they have been working on, specifically their passing game.

"We just felt like we were going to be able to take advantage of our speed against Mount Si, but they did a good job of keeping our speed contained. It's the thing we've been working on all year, our passing game, and it's good to see it kind of coming alive now. We've got good, young players, young receivers, young quarterbacks so it's good to see that how we expected it to be all year. Hopefully we take the next couple of steps in these next games," said Tarantola.

Celebrating homecoming, the Rebels began the night with a scoreless first quarter, after Mount Si scored for a 7-0 start to the game.

With 5:30 on the clock in the second quarter, Mount Si once again connected in the endzone to score for a 14-0 lead.

Minutes later, Juanita's quarterback Riley Hilliker threw a long pass to Ty Griffith for a touchdown, closing the gap to 14-7 at the end of the half.

Back in action after the traditional fireworks display and homecoming royalty parade, the Rebels looked to capitalized on their throwing game, an emphasis this season, but instead the Wildcats struck first. Mount Si's  Hunter Malburg intercepted the ball with 4:39 left int he third, running 91 yards to score. His run made the game 21-7.

Kenrick Murphy, a wide receiver, pushed his way through for a punt return touchdown with 8:52 left in the third quarter, giving the Rebels new life on the field and making it a 22-14 game.

After closing the gap on the scoreboard, the Rebels faced a series of set back, including penalties and mistakes.

"It's been a hard year, we seem to anytime we get close to shoot ourselves in the foot," said the Rebels coach. "With either turnovers or penalties we're still trying to clean that up. I think that's really the main thing, continuing to try and clean that up. We have to find a way. We've been emphasizing it all the time, but at the end of the day in critical situations in games we're making mental mistakes. We have to keep grinding and look at some different way of emphasizing that. I feel like if we fix our mental mistakes we're a 5-2 football right now, but that's whats hard, unfortunately we're 2-5. That is what it is. We can't really change our approach, we just want to emphasize to clean up the mental mistakes."

After Juanita got the ball back with just 1:07 left to go in the game, Milburn threw to Ty Griffith for a touchdown to make it 28-21.

Tarantola said he was impressed with the play of both Milburn and junior quarterback Riley Hilliker, as well as Griffith and Rayon McNairy.

"We had quite a few quys – some new guys stepped up tonight," said the coach. "One guy that we've been real excited about all year, tonight he finally put it all together, was Ty Griffith. He caught two touchdowns tonight, he made some big plays. Kendrick Murphy had a big game, returned for a touchdown and did a great job on defense. Trayon McNairy did a great job running the ball and as outside linebacker getting some big sacks. Those three are new faces that stepped up tonight, along with our quarterbacks, Landyn Milburn and Riley Hilliker. There are a lot of good things out of it, but end results we still got beat 28-21 and the scoreboard means a lot to us. We just have to fix that."

Juanita will travel to Lake Washington on Oct. 21 for a game against their cross town rivals. The following week the team will play against Interlake in the final regular season game of the season.


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