The Wolves hosted the Woodinville Falcons on an emotional night in Sammamish as Eastlake honored its 26-player strong senior class. Neither team had anything to play for in terms for playoff implication but both teams had everything to play for in a broader sense. Woodinville was seeking to continue its undefeated season and Eastlake wanted to prove it could beat a top team after suffering early season close losses to Bothell and Skyline.
In a game that was statistically even, the Falcons proved themselves a worthy league champion, going up 14-3 in the first half and holding on for a 21-16 win.
The Falcons boast the top defense in KingCo and they showed why, stuffing the Eastlake offense on their first 2 possessions. Woodinville looked like they were marching to an early score when senior linebacker Jacob Mohrhardt stripped the Falcon receiver. Cody Cox pounced on the loose ball and the Wolves kept the Falcons off the board. Late in the first quarter, the Wolves finally got on the board. After a long drive broke down on the Woodinville 15 yard-line, sophomore kicker Taige Thornton nailed a 32-yard field goal to put Eastlake up 3-0. However, the Woodinville offense, which proved resilient all night, quickly jumped on top when quarterback Jaden Sheffey hit Nash Foush with an 8-yard touchdown pass (Woodinville 7, Eastlake 3)
On the Wolves next possession, they went for a 4th down on the Woodinville 42 and were stopped short of the first down. Woodinville showed off their powerful rushing attack (which amassed 203 rushing yards for the night) with quarterback Sheffey eventually running it in from the 1 (Woodinville 14, Eastlake 3) with 7 minutes remaining in the half, Eastlake offense started finding its rhythm, balancing Daniel Bradley and Chris Nelson rushing with quick passes to Cox, Hank Pladson and Cole Brinkman. However, the solid Woodinville defense held and the Wolves went to halftime trailing 14-3.
After halftime, the Wolves kicked off and a defensive stop was critical to stay in the game. The Eastlake defense rose to the challenge led by strong line play from Colin Booker and Ryan Stinnett and aggressive tackling from Eric Plummer, Noah Morse and Hunter Klinge. When the Wolves offense once again found its rhythm the Wolves narrowed the lead to 14-10 when Ben Howard hit Cox on a 10-yard fade for a touchdown.
Once again the Falcons bounced back quickly when running back Mack Minahan broke a long run. Minahan punched in the TD a few plays later and Woodinville extended their lead to 21-10 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. This time it was Wolves who showed their resilience as they put together a strong offensive drive. When Howard hit Pladson with a 6 yard touchdown on the first play of the 4th quarter, Eastlake pulled within a touchdown (Woodinville 21, Eastlake 16) with plenty of time on the clock. Eastlake went for a 2 point conversion attempt to get within a field goal, but the attempt failed.
Eastlake's defense needed to hold strong once again and they rose to the challenge. After a strong interior play by Stinnett, Mohrhardt tackled Foush short of the first down line and forced a Woodinville punt. The teams traded punts through the quarter when Pladson forced a Woodinville fumble, recovered by Parker Lester. Eastlake's offense set up with good field position but couldn't convert the opportunity. With 2 minutes left in the game, a quarterback sack put Eastlake in a 4th and 15 situation with 2 minutes remaining in the game. Coach Bartell bet on his defense one more time and punted the ball away. This time, the Woodinville offense proved the tougher team, grinding out a clinching first down and able to run out the last minute in victory formation. Final score Woodinville 21, Eastlake 16.
For the game, Bradley rushed for 62 yards and Nelson added 50. Howard threw for 175 yards, including 7 catches for 98 yards for Cox. The Wolves actually outgained the Falcons (289 to 281 yards) and had more first downs (17 to 12) but lost the battle of the scoreboard.
The Wolves finish the regular season with a record of 6-3 overall, 4-3 in KingCo, losing 3 games by a total of 10 points. In their first post-season match up, the Wolves travel next Friday to French Field to take on the Kentwood Conquerors. Kentwood finished the season 7-2 (7-0 in conference) as the North Puget Sound league champions. While the Conquerors have won 7 straight games, their non-conference schedule included losses to Woodinville (31-7) and Bothell (34-12), two teams that the Wolves know well.