If this is the last home game this senior class plays they finished in style, producing plenty of clips for the highlight reel on a night of celebration for the players – as well as cheer and dance team seniors – along with their families, friends, and fans. Eastlake’s four starting wide receivers – a quartet of seniors – all had touchdown catches, led by Mr. Do-Everything Nate Sutter’s hat trick. The Wolves never trailed while rolling up nearly 500 yards of total offense.
Grady Robison set a new standard for Eastlake quarterbacks, breaking a record set only a year ago by tossing seven touchdown passes, and Eastlake coasted to a third straight blowout win. The Wolves defeated the North Creek Jaguars 63-14 in a win-or-go-home KingCo Conference “play-in” game. With the win, the Wolves move to 7-2 on the season, and will advance to the opening round of the WIAA playoffs next week.
The Jaguars had no answers for Eastlake’s balanced offense and ability to finish drives. In only their second season, North Creek put up more fight than a year ago when the Wolves scored 42 points in the first quarter alone. While the Jaguars are improving, their 5-3 record coming belied where their program really is – going in the right direction but still young.
Led by inside linebackers Austin Gray (2 tackles, 8 assists) and Garret Carney (5 tackles, 3 assists) and strong safety play from Carter Cox (4 tackles, 4 assists) and Jack Rud (4 tackles), the Wolves’ defense gave up two touchdowns and little else. Eastlake also benefitted three Jaguars turnovers, and forced two turnovers on downs. Eastlake held North Creek to 274 yards of offense – with 56 of those yards coming on a fake punt from Eastlake territory near the end of the first quarter, which set up a first and goal at the Eastlake 10 yard line.
Opening the second quarter the Jaguars’ all-purpose back Jaden Landagora scored from seven yards out to pull North Creek within a touchdown at 14-7. That was as close as the game would be. By the time North Creek scored again, on a broken play in the third quarter as Jaguars’ receiver Rami Hakim got behind the defense for a 35 yard TD catch, the game was very clearly out of reach.
Eastlake’s defense controlled the line of scrimmage most of the night as Zach Kennedy and Jacob Allen stood out along the defensive line and the Wolves tallied 9 tackles for loss overall. Vini Montiero had a first quarter interception on a pass that glanced off Landagora, and in the late stages of the fourth quarter Cooper Williams nearly had himself a pick-6, returning an interception 36 yards before being tackled inside the North Creek 10 yard line. Rover Johnny O ‘Laughlin recovered a fumble on the Jaguars’ final possession.
Robison directed the Wolves offense with ease and efficiency all night, leading the team in rushing yards with 101 on 10 carries in addition to completing 17 of 26 passes for 188 yards. Robison had timely scrambles on well defended pass plays, three times in the first half decisively pulling the
ball down and running for first downs. He even found time to catch a pass from Carney, as the Wolves ran another variation on the half-back pass this week. Robison tossed touchdowns to Rud from 20 yards, Grant Brewer from 8, Jalen Bright from 4, and Montiero from 6, in addition to the three to Sutter.
Sutter had a virtuoso performance. His first quarter TD catch of 24 yards was vintage Sutter, catching a short hitch route and spinning to the boundary to get loose down the sideline for the Wolves’ first score. Sutter scored on the next series from 7 yards out to put the Wolves in front 14-0 and at that point was getting open on any route he wanted. Late in the second quarter Sutter blocked a North Creek field goal attempt, thwarting a scoring try for the Jaguars, and putting the Wolves in position to tack on one last score before the half. After his third touchdown catch of the night in the 3rd quarter, the Eastlake student section briefly chanted “M-V-P… M-V-P”. Finishing the year with 12 touchdowns, Sutter ties Hank Pladson from 2016 for the second most touchdowns in a season in the history of Eastlake’s program. Sutter is the 7th Eastlake player to score three touchdowns in a game.
With the game well in hand by the early stages of the third quarter, the Wolves offense went to their deep stable of running backs and relied on run-heavy play selection throughout the second half. Leroy Jackson led running backs with 8 carries for 91 yards, and in relief of Robison, Jackson Proctor carried the ball only twice but accounted for 40 yards, including a 35 yard TD on a zone read keeper. Later, sophomore Nick Robbins would wrap up the scoring for the Wolves with his first touchdown of the season, from 5 yards out.
The Wolves finish the regular season at 7-2, and by virtue of the KingCo Conference tie-breaker system are the 4th seed from the conference. The team has been solid defensively all season, and the offense has improved each week since being frustrated and just a little bit out of sync at Mount Si in late September. But the Wolves have not been tested since a dramatic week 6 home win against Skyline, who played their way into the playoffs on Friday night as well. Will that hurt the team, or will the relative lack of wear and tear on the team be a help now that the playoffs are here? Eastlake opens the playoffs by travelling north to face the 8-1 Glacier Peak Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are the #2 seed from the Wesco Conference. The game is set for next Saturday night November 3rd, at 7pm, and will be held at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium.
Defensively, the Wolves had 25 players record at least one tackle or assist…. Eastlake kickers were a perfect 9-9 on PAT’s, with Ryan Curran kicking the first 6 and senior Nate Evans kicking the final 3… Jackson broke off the long run of the night, a 61-yard burst up the North Creek sideline in the third quarter… Offensively the Wolves ran the ball 34 times and attempted 27 passes, but when accounting for the three first half scrambles by Robison that’s 31 run plays called and 30 pass plays called – almost perfectly balanced.
Special thanks to statistician John Miller, spotter Eric Bryant, and photographers George Bickel and Mark Sutter.