By David Bonner
The Bellevue Steelers returned home this past Saturday, hosting the Jefferson Street Bills in the home opener for three of their teams.
After winning their season openers, the 11-12 year old AA and 9-10 year old BBB teams were ready to put on a show in front of the home crowd.
The 7-8 year old CCC Steelers were making their season debut after a bye in week one.
The heat was overwhelming at times, requiring several stoppages in play to hydrate the players.
The Bills got the better of the Steelers on this day, sweeping all three games in extreme heat which eventually gave way to vicious storms in the afternoon.
The AA game to be called early due to lightning. The BBB game proved to be the game of the day as the home fans witnessed an exciting Steelers comeback.
The BBB Bills were coming off a 43-0 win over Riverdale but the Steelers were up for the challenge. The Bills jumped out quickly, taking the opening kickoff back for a score to go up quickly 6-0.
The Steelers responded with a long touchdown run by Jayden Guy but it was called back on a questionable block in the back penalty that was well behind the play.
Both teams continued to battle the heat and as the players tired, points were becoming hard to get for the Steelers. With a minute to go in the half, a 12-0 Bills lead quickly became 18-0 as they returned an interception back for a touchdown.
The lead seemed unsurmountable as the teams headed to halftime. As the boys and girls enjoyed a few minutes of halftime shade, the Steelers coaches reminded the players that their hard work and conditioning could wear down the opponent in the second half.
Sometimes it just takes one big play to ignite a team and that spark came from Jayden Guy.
The second half began as the kickoff bounced down the field, skipping through Steelers along the way. Guy gathered the awkwardly bouncing ball, dodged a few would-be tacklers and scampered down the left side for a Steelers touchdown, cutting the score to 18-7.
The crowd was going wild and the Steelers defense was ignited. After shutting down the bills offense on the next series, the Steelers gained momentum and the offense led by quarterback Ezana Milton was back at it, running a no huddle offense in an attempt to tire out the Bills defense.
The strategy worked and Milton scored on a keeper to cut the lead to 18-13. The Steelers were within striking but the Bills quickly answered with a touchdown to extend the lead back out to 24-13. On the next series, Milton was injured on a run and had to leave the game.
The Steelers gave up a safety on the very next play and trailed 26-13 with less than 8 minutes to play.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Bills fumbled and it was recovered by the Steelers.
The team turned to Reshad McDowell for some power running and he delivered. McDowell sliced through the Bills defense and eventually scored, cutting the lead to 26-19.
After the Steelers held on defense and forced a botched punt, they got one last chance to tie the game. Ezana Milton returned to the field to lead his team.
The Steelers got the ball inside the Bills 10-yard line with two minutes to go but couldn’t get the tying score and lost a heartbreaker 26-19.
It was a great effort by the team in extreme heat and showed the determination of the boys and girls to fight to the very end.
With a lot of positives to build on, the Steelers will be back at home again this week, hosting four games starting at 10:00 a.m. Come out and support the teams, admission is FREE!
Coach Kurt Page and the Hillwood Toppers football team have invited the Bellevue Steelers alumni to a big football game this week.
Hillwood v Kenwood play this Friday at 7 p.m. at HHS.
The coach is welcoming current and former players to watch pre-game warm-ups and enter the Topper locker room prior to the game.
Just show up around 6:15 and someone will be on hand to direct you.
Steelers Bow to Bills in 'Heated' Games