On a perfect Friday night for football, Eastlake Wolves got back on the winning track, defeating the host Redmond Mustangs 32-18. While the win was nice, it came in a week that featured two examples of the Eastlake "Wolf Strong Pack Strong" spirit in full effect away from the football field. On Tuesday night, the Eastlake community packed MOD Pizza with hundreds of people waiting more than 2 hours to dine at MOD as 100% of the night's proceeds went to support the Nelson family in their battle with cancer. The Nelsons are pillars of the Eastlake family with 2 boys who are alums of the program and youngest son Christopher starring at running back for this year's JV team. Then, on Friday night, senior captain Johnny Monahan sacrificed his captain's spot so injured senior teammate Will Esser could represent the Wolves in the pre-game captain's meeting. Both of these events capture the spirit of Eastlake football and it was nice to see the Wolves cap the week with a solid win to improve their record to 5-2 in KingCo conference (5-3 overall).
On the field, the Wolves won behind another strong game from junior running back Daniel Bradley who ran for 2 touchdowns and caught a pass for another. Senior quarterback Mark Whitley rambled for a 77 yard gain in the 3rd quarter and threw touchdown passes to Bradley and junior receiver Ben Howard. Defensively, the Wolves had a balanced team effort highlighted by strong run stuffing from junior defensive tackles Noah Morse and Eric Plummer, numerous passes defended by junior cornerback Parker Lester and interceptions from junior linebacker Jacob Mohrhardt and senior cornerback Chandler Tolliver. The Wolves also benefited from strong special teams play including 2 tackles on kickoff by junior Max Gardiner and 3 PATs and a field goal from sophomore kicker Jack Matheson.
The Wolves kicked off to open the game and set the tone early when Mohrhardt tackled the Redmond receiver for a loss on 3rd and 9, forcing a Redmond punt. Eastlake powered down the field behind Bradley and Whitley, capped by Matheson's 20 yard field goal to give Eastlake an early 3-0 lead. Later in the quarter, senior nose guard Jacob Kaufman and Plummer pressured the Redmond quarterback on 4th and 2, forcing a turnover on downs. The Wolves capitalized when Whitley hit Bradley with a 26 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 19. With Matheson's PAT, the Wolves boosted their lead to 10-0.
On Redmond's next possession, the Mustangs picked up some offensive momentum before Mohrhardt stepped in front of a pass on 3rd and 6 and returned the interception to mid-field. A 10-yard pass (Whitley to Tolliver) and a steady dose of Bradley running behind Plummer and senior tackle Connor McCabe moved the ball to the 3 yard line before Whitley hit Howard with a 3-yard touchdown pass. Matheson converted and Eastlake led 17-0 and seemed poised for an easy victory.
On this night however Redmond wouldn't go away easily. Senior Cole Lewis made a nice tackle on the kickoff at the 27 yard line but Redmond went to work and hit a 43 yard completion, followed by a pass interference call on Eastlake to move into the red zone. The Wolves defense stiffened but Redmond converted a 30 yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-3 at halftime.
In the second half Eastlake continued moving the ball, primarily on the ground but couldn't cash in points. On a 4th and 9 play, Redmond hit a 38 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 17-10. The Wolves came right back, finally breaking through again when Whitley broke loose for a 77-yard run. Although Whitley was pushed out-of-bounds at the 2-yard line, Bradley punched in the touchdown for Eastlake extending the lead to 24-10.
Despite trailing in the 4th quarter, the always-great Redmond band and crowd continued cheering on their team and the Mustangs responded. Redmond put together a long touchdown drive, converted a 2 point conversion and the Eastlake lead was cut to 24-18 with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
With the game in the balance, the Wolves put together a win-sealing drive. On 3rd and 8, Whitley scrambled for 9 yards and an Eastlake first down. After grinding out 11 more yards, Bradley sealed the game with a 55-yard touchdown run following the block of sophomore tackle Spencer Thompson. Whitley hit Lester for the 2-point conversion and a 32-18 Eastlake lead.
As the Mustangs desperately scrambled to get back in the game, Tolliver made a sliding interception. Later, on the last play of the game junior defensive tackle Ryan Guptil sacked the Redmond quarterback as time ran out. The chilly but spirited Eastlake crowd cheered on their heroes and the Wolves went home with a solid road victory.
Statistically, Daniel Bradley nominated the offense with 191 yards rushing, 59 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns while Whitley chipped in 135 yards rushing, 85 passing yards and no turnovers. On the defensive side of the ball, Johnny Monahan led the Wolves with 9 tackles followed by Connor McCabe and Jacob Mohrhardt with 8 each. Safety Cody Cox added 6 tackles with strong efforts also from Carter Browning (5 tackles), Bayan Farahani (5 tackles), and Noah Morse, Parker Lester and Eric Plummer (3 tackles each).
Next Friday, Eastlake hosts Skyline on senior night in the last regular season game of the year.