Prep football: Eastlake, Skyline have high hopes
September 3, 2013
By Neil Pierson
Some football teams are like marathon runners: They like to use their biggest players to grind opponents and wear them out in the second half.
Other teams prefer to act like sprinters: They use their speed and athleticism to grab a quick lead and set the tone for the rest of the game.
For the Eastlake Wolves, the 2013 season sets up to be a 100-yard dash. They don’t have the steak-eaters to punish opponents in the trenches, but they do have fast feet, and plenty of them.
That speed is being utilized by first-year head coach Don Bartel, who spent last year winning a state championship as defensive coordinator at neighboring Skyline. The Wolves’ new offensive coordinator, Kyle Snell, is running a high-octane offense designed at highlighting the team’s best athletes.
“We’re real quick – no huddle, trying to get on the ball and snap it as fast as possible,” said senior quarterback Blue Thomas. “Last year was kind of waiting for the plays get called. We’d have to go back and forth from the sideline. We’re not really doing that now.”
During practice last week, the Wolves spent time running the ball out of spread formations. Brothers Drew and Troy Lewis figure to get the lion’s share of the carries, and both are proven athletes. Drew has given an oral commitment to Washington, while Troy is one of the state’s top sprinters. Both guys will play offense and defense for their final season at Eastlake.
Thomas is aiming to finish in the top three for passing yards among KingCo Conference quarterbacks, and thinks he’ll get a chance to shine, too.
“I feel like we’re definitely going to throw the ball a lot,” he said, “Especially with our offense being real fast, we’ll catch defenses on their edge.”
Defensively, the Wolves will need guys like Lucas Henkel to carry out a disciplined 3-4 scheme. Henkel, a middle linebacker, indicated the defensive line doesn’t have to dominate. If they can occupy blockers and open up holes, the linebackers can make most of the tackles.
Henkel said the players have taken to Bartel’s new regime with enthusiasm.
“A lot of guys were kind of looking for that coaching last year, and now that it’s here, everyone is absorbing it,” he said. “They really like it.”
Skyline tries for third straight title
Rain fell in sheets. A nearby lightning strike temporarily knocked out power in the locker room. The team photo was cancelled.
In other words, it wasn’t a pretty picture at Skyline High’s annual Green vs. White scrimmage on Aug. 29.
It wasn’t all bad. Before the weather ended the scrimmage prematurely, the Spartans showed flashes of brilliance they hope will translate to the Sept. 7 season opener against Bellevue.
New quarterback Kilton Anderson, a transfer from Naples, Fla., weaved his way through the defense for a 54-yard touchdown. When it was negated by a holding penalty, he simply came back a few plays later with a 40-yard scoring strike to Blake Sypher.
Defensively, Skyline held its junior-varsity counterparts to 19 yards on 18 plays and totaled five sacks. Head coach Mat Taylor expected that kind of domination.
“The biggest thing is you just need to get out there and make sure we have everything set up for next Saturday (against Bellevue),” Taylor said. “Make sure the kids are conscious of holding (penalties) and other little things that don’t get called in practice.”
The Spartans will once again have targets on them after winning the 2011 and 2012 Class 4A state titles. A win against Bellevue, which has captured 10 of the past 12 3A crowns, would go a long way toward cementing Skyline’s front-runner status once again.
“The nice thing is, Bellevue’s in the same boat. They lost a lot of key kids,” Taylor said. “They obviously have some great talent that’s coming back, too, like us. Up front, our front seven is going to really be our strength this year. That’s where we have kids that are seasoned that played last year.”
The defensive front seven includes two stalwart linemen in Josh Wright and Reggie Long, as well as a linebacker corps of Drew Lunde, Grant Evans, Chandler Wong and Cameron Saffle.
Taylor wouldn’t comment on sophomore running back Rashaad Boddie, who transferred in from Clayton, N.C. Boddie scored on a 15-yard run during the scrimmage, and if he’s eligible to play varsity football, he could make an instant impact.
Anderson has spent the summer learning Skyline’s terminology, and Taylor indicated it hasn’t been an easy task.
“I think it’s like learning Spanish,” the coach said. “We talk different, we do different things. … Is he there yet? No. But he’s definitely picking it up and doing a good job.”
SKYLINE VS. BELLEVUE
State powerhouses Skyline and Bellevue will clash Sept. 7 at Husky Stadium in Seattle. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, and the price of $15 for adults or $10 for students and senior citizens includes admission to all four games at the Emerald City Kickoff Classic.
The ECKC schedule is as follows: Seattle Prep vs. Roosevelt at 10 a.m.; King’s vs. Lynden at 1 p.m.; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho vs. Bothell at 4 p.m.; and Skyline vs. Bellevue at 7 p.m.
All four games will be televised live on the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s website at www.wiaa.com. Additionally, the Skyline-Bellevue game can be heard on the radio at 950-AM.
Skyline players to watch: QB Kilton Anderson, WR Sam Mix, OL/DL Reggie Long, LB Cameron Saffle, LB Grant Evans
Bellevue players to watch: QB Timmy Haehl, RB/DB Budda Baker, OL/DL Marcus Griffin, OL/DL Shane Bowman, OL/DL Morgan Richie
Keys to victory: Skyline doesn’t find many equals in the trenches, but Bellevue is one of those rare opponents. Griffin (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) and Bowman (6-3, 240) are two of the state’s best linemen, having given oral commitments to Washington State and Oregon State, respectively. For the Spartans to win, they’ll need big games from their big guys like Long (6-2, 280) and Josh Wright (6-1, 220).
Defensively, the Spartans will have to be disciplined against the Wolverines’ multi-faceted wing-T attack. Baker, who has a bevy of Division I collegiate offers, was named Washington’s preseason Mr. Football by MaxPreps. If he gets loose too often, it could be a long night for Skyline.
Skyline could have a more balanced offense than last season, when it relied on quarterback Max Browne to get the ball downfield. Anderson, an all-state QB at Naples, Fla., will make his first start in green and white. How he handles the noisy, pressure-packed environment at Husky Stadium will impact the result greatly. If he avoids turnovers and makes some big plays with his legs, the Spartans will have a great chance to win.