Bethel proves unstoppable in 35-6 romp


Sports editor

You’re not going to win many football games when you don’t have the ball.

The Decatur Gators found that out Thursday night when they were run over by the No. 2-ranked Bethel Braves 35-6 at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. The loss drops the Gators to 4-2 in the South Puget Sound League and puts a serious crimp in Decatur’s run at its first-ever postseason berth.

“That is a great ball team,” said Decatur coach Bill Heglar. “They are a pretty solid group. They controlled the game.”

That is putting it lightly. The Braves’ offense pounded the Gators all night. In total, Bethel ran 62 plays from the line of scrimmage, compared to Decatur’s 28 offensive plays.

Bethel had two different scoring drives of 18 plays and 12 plays, while the Braves’ defense limited the Gators potent offense to seven three-and-outs and an amazing two first downs all night.

“They just beat us up inside,” Heglar said.

The Gators’ lone touchdown came early in the first quarter on a 4-yard run from fullback Kyle Bressler through the middle of the Bethel defense. The Bressler touchdown run capped a seven-play, 64-yard drive that included both of the Gators’ first downs.

The big play came on a third-and-12 scramble by quarterback Darin Harris for 18 yards. Harris, who was noticeably hobbling on an injured Achilles tendon that limited his action in Decatur’s last two games, finished 0-for-3 passing.

“I thought that we played at the same level as them in the first half,” Heglar said. “I couldn’t ask our kids to do anymore than they did in the first half. But I think (Bethel) picked it up a notch in the second half. We just didn’t have a consistent effort.”

The Braves, who have won 34 of their last 35 SPSL South games, jumped all over Decatur. Marcel Austin returned the opening kickoff 52 yards to set up a 1-yard plunge by senior tailback Zack Fletcher.

Bressler’s touchdown followed, but the Gators missed the extra-point and trailed 7-6. That was as close as it would get.

Fletcher, the leading rusher in the SPSL South, was the workhorse for the Braves again. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder carried the ball 31 times for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns — giving him 15 in six games.

Bethel quarterback James Wright finished the game 4-for-8 for 85 yards and a touchdown. Wright did throw an interception to Decatur linebacker Taylor McCluskey.

Bressler led the Gator offense with 49 yards on 10 carries.

“That is just a super football team,” Heglar said about the Braves.

The Gators now, most likely, will have to win their final two SPSL South games against Federal Way and undefeated Puyallup to earn one of the league’s three postseason berths.

Bethel and Puyallup sit atop the league, followed by Rogers and Decatur — who both have two league losses. Rogers owns the tiebreaker over the Gators after beating them last week, however. Rogers also has already played both Bethel and Puyallup and has games remaining against Curtis, Spanaway Lake and Emerald Ridge. Decatur plays Auburn Oct. 24 in a non-league contest.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565,

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