Maybe with Halloween only a couple weeks away, this was a little fitting. It was scary. It was exciting. And it was a veritable bloodbath Thursday night as Eastlake took the short jaunt from the plateau to Redmond High School and destroyed the host Mustangs 49-0. With the win, Eastlake improved their record to 6-2 overall.
By halftime the only pressing questions were whether or not there would be a running clock in the second half, and if part-time ball boy Chris “Thunder” Brookshier could stop a persistent nose bleed. Mercifully, yes, and yes. And for the second time in as many weeks, the Wolves special teams provided a substantial lift. After nearly scoring twice a week ago on blocked punts, this week Eastlake somehow improved on that performance and was able to score two touchdowns following blocked punts and the Wolves rolled over the Mustangs in all three phases of the game.
In a wild and at times explosive first quarter, the Wolves offense started the game operating at full-tilt ludicrous speed, covering 83 yards in 3 plays in a mere 32 seconds on their opening drive. Grady Robison threw to his favorite target Nate Sutter for 59 yards on a catch and run on the first play of the night and the Wolves were off and running. Following another Sutter catch, Robison kept the ball on a zone read play and ran the final 18 yards for a touchdown. Jackson Proctor then ran in a successful 2 point conversion, and the Wolves had an early 8-0 lead.
That score would hold for a time. Then the Wolves hung 27 points on the board in the 2nd quarter.
Defensively, outside of a lop-sided loss early in the year to Union, the Wolves have been stingy all season. To date, this was their most dominant performance. The shutout notwithstanding, the Eastlake defense allowed only three first downs to the Mustang offense in the first half. The Mustangs would never cross midfield in the half, and Eastlake forced three Redmond punts in the second quarter alone, as well as a turnover on downs.
After a Leroy Jackson IV touchdown catch on a screen pass lifted the Wolves’ lead to 15-0 in the early stages of the second quarter, the special teams went to work. Eastlake sophomore Joey Grzetic blocked a Redmond punt, knocking the ball toward the end zone where Brock Stauffer was able to fall on the ball, extending the lead to 21-0. After stuffing Redmond on a quarterback sneak on 4th and 1 the next series, the Wolves reached into their bag of tricks (again) to finish a fast and short drive, executing a hook-and-ladder play from 10 yards out as Sutter made the catch and immediately lateralled the ball to trailing offensive lineman Cameron Lynch for another touchdown. Before halftime, the Wolves defense forced one more punt and special teams would strike again – this time the punt was blocked by Austin Gray – and Grzetic was there to scoop up the ball and run it in from 13 yards out. The Wolves led 35-0 at half.
The Redmond faithful, to their credit, stayed until the end as the Wolves tacked on touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters for the final margin.
In the second half, Eastlake’s salty defense continued to dominate. Redmond finally got across the 50-yard line, but only after a short Eastlake punt went out of bounds shy of midfield in the closing moments of the game. On what was the Mustangs only threat to score, Redmond used a time out to have an opportunity to throw up a Hail Mary that fell harmlessly to the ground in the end zone on the final play.
The Wolves were able to neutralize the Redmond running game all evening, and the Mustangs were never able to pass the ball effectively or consistently. The Wolves had a season-best performance statistically, holding Redmond to only 88 yards of total offense and 5 first downs in the game. The Mustangs averaged a meager 2 yards per play.
Offensively, taking away a kneel-down to end the first half, Eastlake managed to run fewer plays than a week ago. Efficiency, big plays, and scores by special teams have a way of influencing that.
The Wolves first touchdown of the 2nd half was simple beauty in execution. Eastlake had run the same receiver screen several times to Sutter, eventually baiting the Redmond defense into over-playing it. Sensing it might be time to go for the deep ball, the Wolves called Monteiro’s number. Monteiro faked the same block he’d been making all evening, and slipped past the entire Redmond defense to catch a 38 yard strike from Robison, the only score of the third quarter.
The Wolves were then able to play mainly reserves on the final two drives, as the running clock shortened the game. Proctor connected with Zade Thompson on a 10-yard hook-up for a critical 4th down conversion to end the third quarter, and keep a drive moving for Eastlake. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Matt Brookshier hauled in a screen pass from Proctor, breaking an arm tackle at the Redmond 12-yard line before racing to the end zone to score the final points of the night. Defensively, sophomore linebacker Carson Seelig recorded the Wolves’ only sack, helping stall Redmond’s penultimate drive.
Eastlake hosts North Creek next Friday evening October 26th, at 7pm, its final tune-up before the state playoffs begin on November 2nd/3rd. The Wolves beat the Jaguars last season 56-0 in North Creek’s inaugural season. The Jaguars play Woodinville on Friday evening. North Creek is 5-2 on the season entering week 8, but only 1-2 in the KingCo Crown Division, their only division win coming in a home game against Redmond on October 4, 31-10.
The Wolves again had more points (49) than offensive plays (39)... Sutter led the team in catches (8) and receiving yards (127)… Defensively, the Wolves were led by Gray (5 tackles, 5 assists) and Sutter (7 tackles, 1 pass defensed)… Robison was on point all evening, finishing 13 of 17 for 231 yards and 3TD’s. Lost in the numbers, his best pass may have been a throw away. Prior to the touchdown catch by Jackson IV, Robison was scrambling to extend a play but ultimately had to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone. It was a small detail, but a smart and patient play by a maturing quarterback… Lynch’s touchdown was the second in as many seasons by an Eastlake offensive lineman; the team pulled off a similar hook-and-ladder play last year… kicker Ryan
Curran had a solid night hitting on 5 of 6 PAT’s and also booting two of his kickoffs into the Redmond end zone for touchbacks.
Special thanks to statistician John Miller, spotter Eric Bryant, and photographers Chad Greene and Mark Sutter.