The Lake City/Coeur d’Alene football game lived up to the hype and quite possibly exceeded it.
I’ve watched nearly 500 football games the last three decades. That’s a conservative estimate. The game I watched Friday was arguably the best I’ve seen. Not so much because of execution – there were plenty of mistakes because, heck, it’s high school sports – but because of pure drama and entertainment.
A standing-room-only crowd estimated at 4,000 watched the two best teams in the region duke it out for four quarters and then have to go to overtime before Casey Bourque kicked a 27-yard field goal to lift Lake City to a 45-42 win, snapping a six-game losing streak to Idaho’s 5A powerhouse.
Lake City (7-1) locked up the No. 1 seed to the expanded 12-team playoffs, meaning it receives a bye into the state quarterfinals Nov. 7 and a home playoff game.
Coeur d’Alene (6-2) can secure a berth with a win at Post Falls on Friday. Based on its record and quality of competition, the Vikings have secured no worse than a wild-card berth. Post Falls (4-4) earns a berth with a win.
LC and CdA combined for 84 points through three quarters. By game’s end, they had combined for 1,103 yards with CdA accounting for 675.
Part of the Vikings’ undoing was one measurable statistic (penalties) and one that’s not recorded (mental mistakes). CdA committed 15 penalties.
Certainly the biggest defensive play for LC came when junior safety Scott Helsper intercepted a pass in overtime. But LC also had a defensive stand at its 1-yard line.
CdA never led but appeared as if it would take its first lead midway through the fourth. But a Vikings receiver, who got behind LC’s secondary, fumbled near the goal line and the ball bounced through the end zone for a touchback.
Midway in the third quarter, LC went for it on fourth-and-1 from its 21 – a risky move that didn’t pay off, leading to a CdA score.
So when LC was inches from the goal line on fourth down in overtime coach Van Troxel thought about going for it before calling for a field goal attempt.
“I’m old and I don’t learn very well and I do roll the dice,” Troxel said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but our kids never quit.”
CdA didn’t have an answer for LC’s speedy and do-everything utility back Jerry Louie-McGee, whose three returns for touchdowns on special teams accounted for 237 yards.
Helsper appropriately summed up how significant the win was for LC.
“This is the biggest win in a while,” Helsper said.
Instead of enjoying the benefits of the No. 1 seed, CdA now must play a first-round game and spend the postseason on the road.
That journey wouldn’t be anything new for a program that’s captured three state titles in the last four years and played in four consecutive state finals.
“We’ve done that,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “We’ve got to beat Post Falls or we might be (staying) at home.”
Teams are bunching up in Greater Spokane League 4A play.
Central Valley, Lewis and Clark and Ferris are tied for second at 2-1 behind leader Gonzaga Prep (3-0).
The top four teams face off Friday when G-Prep meets LC in the late game at Albi and Ferris goes to CV.
G-Prep is playing the best among the four teams. It’s highly likely that LC, CV and Ferris will finish tied.
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