Updated Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 02:01 AM
TACOMA — Skyline seniors had been building to this moment since most were little kids. They had played on youth teams together and had their pictures taken at the Tacoma Dome when they were ball boys at state championship games.
But Saturday night, in their final high-school game all these years later, they capped their careers in the most appropriate way: A 49-24 win against Bellarmine Prep for the Class 4A championship.
"It was a picture-book ending," Skyline receiver Matt Sinatro said. "Playing with all my guys I grew up with and in youth ball and going undefeated, 14 weeks of perfection, it means the world to top it off with a state title."
Skyline's senior class gave the Sammamish school its fifth state title in six years, including three while those seniors were there. The Spartans scored a KingCo-record 715 points this season, beat their opponents by an average of more than 35 points and won every game by at least 12.
The top-ranked Spartans (14-0) relied on a junior-heavy team a year ago to rally from three regular-season losses to win a title. This year, those juniors had grown into game-tested seniors.
They had been through the grind of KingCo 4A and the playoffs. They had come back from early deficits and never panicked. And they had turned all of that invaluable experience into perfection in their final season.
"To go out with these guys and this senior class, it's special," said Skyline quarterback Max Browne, who ended his career with 20 straight wins. "It's probably Skyline's best senior class, or right up there. Going out in this way, it's all I could ask for."
Browne and Skyline's offense hummed in the first half, piling up 315 yards and burying Bellarmine Prep (12-2) by halftime. The Spartans scored on all five drives in the first half to lead 32-10. It was as clean and flawless a half as they have played all season.
Trevor Barney hauled in 10 passes for 182 yards, all before halftime. Cedric Cooper rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Sinatro had 116 yards receiving and two TDs. And Sean McDonald kicked two field goals, including a 49-yarder.
Skyline's 49 points tied the record for a 4A title game.
"This group is just special," Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. "We were probably the most efficient offensive team in Skyline history."
Browne, who will graduate in December and head to USC to compete for Matt Barkley's old job, didn't disappoint in the final game of his storied career. With USC coach Lane Kiffin watching at the Tacoma Dome, Browne completed 21 of 28 passes for 384 yards — a 4A title-game record — and four touchdowns with one interception.
"The impression he's left on me and this program," Taylor said, "it can't be measured."
At one point, Browne took a shot to his leg and came up limping. He hobbled around midfield before quickly and emphatically waving his coaches off. He was going to finish what he started so many years ago.
And with the help of a deep and talented senior class, the Spartans ended their season — and careers — the right way.
"Some of these guys have been watching their brothers come through this program," Sinatro said. "It's just surreal that we're the ones here now."
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Bell Prep — Matt Philichi 24 FG
Sky — Trevor Barney 34 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
Sky — Cedric Cooper 3 run (pass failed)
Sky — safety, ball snapped out of end zone
Sky — Barney 36 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
Bell Prep — Calvin Chandler 22 pass from Sefo Liufau (Philichi kick)
Sky — McDonald 49 FG
Sky — McDonald 35 FG
Bell Prep — Garrett McKay 6 pass from Liufau (Philichi kick)
Sky — Sinatro 55 pass from Browne (McDonald kick)
Sky — Cooper 1 run (McDonald kick)
Bell Prep — Drew Griffin 24 pass from Liufau (Philichi kick)
|Time of possession||21:46||26:14|
Rushing — Skyline, Cooper 12-60, Browne 4-19, Gibson 1-3, Valencia 1-2, Sblendorio 1-1, Mach 5-(-3), Barney 1-(-10). Bellarmine, Millie 12-15, Liufau 9-14, Thompson 1-1.
Passing — Skyline, Browne 21-28-1 — 384, Gibson 2-3-0-19. Bellarmine, Liufau 33-45-2 — 376.
Receiving — Skyline, Barney 10-182, Sinatro 4-116, Sblendorio 3-27, Cooper 2-35, Bui 2-11, Lunde 1-18, Miller 1-14. Bellarmine, McKay 11-128, Griffin 10-117, Chandler 10-95, Ogard 1-32, Millie 1-4.
At home in finalSKYLINE HAS PLAYED for titles eight of the past nine seasons, winning six:
2012: Beat Bellarmine Prep, 49-24
2011: Beat Skyview, 38-7
2010: Lost to Ferris, 24-16
2009: Beat Ferris, 45-21
2008: Beat Issaquah, 20-15
2007: Beat O'Dea, 42-35
2005: Beat Woodinville, 35-21
2004: Lost to Evergreen (Vancouver), 28-14
Note: 2007 title game was in 3A, the others in 4A
COLIN DILTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Skyline players celebrate with their fans after beating Bellarmine Prep Saturday night at the Tacoma Dome for their fifth state championship in six years.
COLIN DILTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Skyline's Matt Sinatro, left, leaps to break up a pass intended for Bellarmine Prep's Calvin Chandler in the first half Saturday night. Sinatro also caught two TD passes.