Lions reflect on solid season, look forward to ’15 | Prep football

Auburn Mountainview’s football season ended last Saturday with a 41-22 first-round state Class 3A playoff loss to Shadle Park in Spokane.

Auburn Mountainview’s football season ended last Saturday with a 41-22 first-round state Class 3A playoff loss to Shadle Park in Spokane.

The Lions (9-2) played without junior quarterback Gresch Jensen, who sustained a knee injury in the first quarter.

“He got his knee rolled up on in pile,” Auburn Mountainview coach Jared Gervais said. “Losing a quarterback for any team is tough, especially at this point.”

Jensen finished the season with an 82.9 quarterback ranking, racking up 1,819 passing yards on 143-of-263 passing, with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

With Jensen out, the Lions turned to senior backup quarterback Jason Sele, normally one of the team’s starting linebackers.

“We’ve never had to use him in a game, which is nice, but we’d been getting him ready just in case,” Gervais said. “He did a better job than we expected of getting everybody organized and going, especially in the first quarter.”

Sele – who finished the game with 12-of-26 passing for 177 yards and interception and a pair of touchdowns, along with a team-high 61 yards and a TD on the ground – helped lead his squad back from a 21-3 deficit to capture the lead at 22-21 in the second quarter.

The Highlanders scored to close out the quarter, putting the game at 27-22 at intermission.

“In the second half, we had some negative plays,” Gervais said. “It’s hard to win when it’s 3-and-13 and they know you have to run.”

It’s also hard to win when you have to deal with Washington’s top prep quarterback in Shadle Park senior Brett Rypien, who is closing in on the state’s career prep passing yard record.

Rypien and the Highlanders posted 14 third-quarter points, stretching their lead to 41-22, with the defense shutting down the Lions.

Rypien finished the game with 40-of-57 for 470 yards and five touchdowns in the game.

“I don’t think we fully appreciated how good he really is,” Gervais said of Rypien, the nephew of Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien.

‘It’s been a great year’

Despite the loss, Gervais said, he was proud of his team’s season, which included the program’s first-ever playoff win over Glacier Peak, 45-22 on Nov. 7.

“It was great, it’s been a great year, and I’m super proud of everything the seniors accomplished the past four years,” Gervais said. “This is the first group to go all the way through the program.”

The Lions team will lose a handful of key seniors: running back Nate Hardin, 71 carries for 391 yards and three TDs on the season; linebacker Aeron Watson, 109 tackles and two interceptions; Sele, 83 tackles and four sacks; and kicker Devon Tandberg, eight field goals on 11 attempts and 38 point after conversions. But the cupboard will be far from empty next season.

“We’re pretty excited about the future and where this is going with all the juniors and sophomores who have playing time this season,” Gervais said.

Among the returners are: Jensen; junior Gavin Robertson, who led the team in receptions with 44 for 588 yards and six TDs; junior Ryan Lacey, 35 receptions for 463 yards; Ki’jon Weisinger, 34 receptions and six TDs; Vaughn Daggs, 28 receptions and six TDs and sophomore Bittner Wilson who had 58 carries for 396 yards and five TDs.

More important, however, is the team’s newfound confidence, Gervais said.

“This year, for the first time, instead of hoping we could win games, we expected to win games,” Gervais said.