Skyline uses run game, defense to stop Eastlake, 21-6
September 23, 2013
By Neil Pierson
The Skyline Spartans have traditionally featured a pass-happy, wide-open offense, but last week they showed they can also play bruising, run-between-the-tackles football.
Skyline amassed 286 rushing yards, including 151 from sophomore running back Rashaad Boddie, and played stellar defense to earn a 21-6 victory over the rival Eastlake Wolves on Sept. 20 at Spartan Stadium.
A dominant first half proved to be enough for Skyline (2-1), which didn’t score in the second half after Boddie was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Eastlake coach Don Bartel was Skyline’s defensive coordinator last season, giving the Wolves some intimate knowledge of their opponent. Spartans coach Mat Taylor said his team tried to keep Eastlake’s defense uncomfortable.
“I think it was just running some of our different variations out of our pistol zone read, and we just showed a look that we haven’t shown yet,” Taylor said. “We just kind of started playing games with their defensive ends and outside (linebackers), and it proved to be successful.”
Skyline’s defense held Eastlake quarterback Blue Thomas in check. Thomas ran for 66 yards, and completed 11 of 25 passes for 113 yards, but was intercepted three times. Two of the interceptions went to senior Cole Blackburn.
“You’ve really got to cover deep when he’s scrambling, because you never know when he’s going to throw it or run it,” Blackburn said.
The first of Blackburn’s picks gave Skyline possession deep in Eastlake territory. Chandler Wong finished the short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, putting the Spartans up 7-0 late in the first quarter.
On Eastlake’s next series, Thomas tried to complete a deep pass down the sideline, but threw into double coverage where Blackburn was waiting again.
“I just ran with him and made a play on the ball,” Blackburn said.
Officials stopped the game at the end of the first quarter because of lightning in the area. The teams left the field for 30 minutes, but the delay didn’t squelch Skyline’s momentum.
Boddie began peeling off big chunks of yardage. He scored on an 18-yard burst up the middle, dragging several tacklers with him, and put Skyline up 14-0 midway through the second quarter.
Eastlake’s Jeffrey Feinglas returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards, and Eastlake was knocking on the door after Thomas and Troy Lewis found some lanes to run through.
But the Spartans’ defense stiffened, stopping three straight runs near the goal line, including Justin McOmber’s fourth-down effort.
On the next play, Boddie found a huge seam and sprinted for a 96-yard TD down the left side. Suddenly, Skyline’s lead had grown to 21-0, although Boddie’s night was done because of an awkward tackle at the end of the play.
“He’s a tremendous kid,” Blackburn said of Boddie. “He’s a great guy, works hard in the weight room. You can really tell he’s going to be special.”
Taylor said Boddie might have a high ankle sprain or a bone bruise, and indicated he likely wouldn’t play this week against Roosevelt.
Eastlake (2-1) regrouped at halftime, Bartel said, and played a much better second half.
“We have to develop an awareness of what we’re doing and how our system works … and tonight, when you play a team like Skyline, they’re going to be there when you make a mistake,” Bartel said. “The reality is we want games like this, and we want situations like this.”
McOmber’s 5-yard TD run put Eastlake on the scoreboard late in the third quarter. The Wolves weren’t able to find the end zone again, and Myles O’Connell’s interception with 4 minutes, 52 seconds left sealed the win for Skyline.
Drew Lewis was held out against Skyline for precautionary reasons after he was injured in a Sept. 13 win over Eastside Catholic. Bartel hopes his star running back and safety will be ready to go when the Wolves host Bothell this week.
“It’s important to hold him out for the long run,” Bartel said. “We’re going to need him.”