Marauders open with a decisive victory
Mariner shakes off a sluggish start, beats Foster 39-14
Last updated 9/14/2022 at 4:26pm
It was just the season opening game, but new Mariner coach Tyler Tuiasosopo was upbeat about what he saw on the field.
The 4A Marauders shook off an early 6-0 deficit to score six unanswered touchdowns to cruise to a 39-14 victory over 2A Foster in a nonconference football game Friday, Sept. 2, at Foster High School in Tukwila.
"We have things that we need to clean up, but I'm very, very happy with how we performed," said Tuiasosopo, a 2008 graduate of Mariner.
Junior Isaiah Cuellar shook off an early first-quarter interception that led to the Bulldogs' first touchdown to throw for a TD and run for another score in his first career start.
"It feels really good," Cuellar said. "I was kind of nervous. As the game went along, it just slowed down for me. I just started getting my team involved, and we started growing."
Senior Damien Bagley also saw action at quarterback, and he also had one of his passes picked off. But Bagley also settled down after that and did not throw another incompletion the rest of the night.
"I was pleased with the way our quarterbacks played," Tuiasosopo said. "Our quarterback didn't come out very strong. But as he battled the game started to slow down for him a little bit – you start to get in the flow, and it started to work out. Damien Bagley came in and did a great job."
Tuiasosopo has yet to decide on who will be his starting quarterback. But he reiterated his plan to have both players on the field at the same time.
"It's up in the air right now because it's what we have to do," Tuiasosopo said. "I've been telling everybody that everybody's got to play every position. ... We've got to play our best athletes. That puts us in the best position to win – having all of our best athletes on the field. If not, we're doing them a disservice.
"You saw both quarterbacks go in tonight and both have strengths. They can do a lot of different things. We want to maximize their skill sets. I think we did a good job of correcting the errors and growing."
Senior running back Cartez Williams made a convincing case that he is one of the team's best athletes, scoring on runs of 54 and 45 yards in the first quarter to give Mariner a 12-6 lead.
The Bulldogs had trouble bringing down the 5-foot-10, 210-pound standout, as he often shook off the first tackler.
"He makes us look good," Tuiasosopo said. "He does a lot of things that a lot of running backs in this league, and anywhere for that matter, can't do. He fights for every yard. That's a man on a mission, and I'm very proud of the senior leadership from him tonight. He took a load off of Isaiah's shoulders when we needed it."
Cuellar came up with the play of the night on the defensive end at the end of the second quarter.
Foster drove deep into Mariner territory and was poised to score what could have been the game-tying touchdown with time winding down in the first half. Instead, Cuellar picked off a pass five yards deep in the end zone and sprinted 105 yards for a touchdown to give the Marauders a momentum-shifting 18-6 halftime lead.
"I saw a whole army of men blocking for me," Cuellar said. Cuellar scored on a 10-yard run on the first drive of the third quarter and found Mackey James on a 70-yard scoring strike. Junior running back Kelvin Iaulualo closed out the scoring with a 2-yard run.
"Our line was opening up good holes and blocking really well," Cuellar said. "We all just work as a team."
Foster scored a late touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"Our defense did very, very well," Tuiasosopo said. "It took them a second to get going. But I'm very happy with the team defense."
The Marauders forced two fumbles and picked off one pass. Mariner limited the Bulldogs to only seven first downs, while the Marauder offense finished with 14.
Tuiasosopo wasn't too concerned about the two interceptions. He told his quarterbacks that he wanted them to be aggressive. "We're going from a wing-T running heavy system and transitioning into the pass game," he said. "It's going to take a little bit. So that's what we wanted to see tonight. We wanted to see the growing pains."
Mariner (1-0) outgained Foster (0-1) 466 yards to 132 yards. Cuellar and Bagley completed seven of 13 passes for 206 yards, while the Mariner ground game amassed 216 yards. The two interceptions were the only Marauder turnovers.
Up next for Mariner is its home opener against Everett at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9, at Goddard Stadium. The Seagulls (0-1) lost 34-20 to Issaquah. The Marauders open league play against Glacier Peak on Friday, Sept. 30.9