Photo courtesy of Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography
                                Eastside Catholic Crusaders safety Malik Putney, right, makes a tackle against the O’Dea Fighting Irish in a contest earlier this season.

Photo courtesy of Rick Edelman/Rick Edelman Photography Eastside Catholic Crusaders safety Malik Putney, right, makes a tackle against the O’Dea Fighting Irish in a contest earlier this season.

Putney patrols the secondary with passion

The last line of defense for the Eastside Catholic Crusaders football team packs a powerful punch.

Crusaders’ senior safety Malik Putney is the heart and soul of a Crusaders defense that has completely throttled opponents since the second week of the 2017 season. Putney is fearless in run support and is one of the most formidable hitters I’ve seen all year on the gridiron. Since the summer of 2017, I’ve conducted interviews with Putney on three separate occasions and each time I have encountered the star defensive back, the adjective that comes to mind to describe him consists of just one word, “intensity.”

Putney exudes confidence and command at all times. In my opinion, he is the Crusaders’ version of Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. He just seems to be everywhere between the white lines. While Putney rarely plays on the offensive side of the ball, he also is the Crusaders’ top punt returner and is truly electrifying when the ball gets into his hands.

In the regular season finale against Roosevelt, Putney dropped deep to return punts multiple times but hardly received any opportunities to make a splash in the return game. A multitude of punts sailed out of bounds, leaving Putney visibly frustrated. On one instance, as another punt sailed harmlessly to the sidelines, he extended his arms to his teammates with a look of disgust.

Putney just wanted an opportunity to make plays and help his team win.

The passion and edge Putney brings to the Crusaders is undeniable. I played sports my entire life and I know firsthand having teammates who bring that kind of grit, passion and all-out effort is inspiring. It makes a difference in how teams practice, how they prepare and how they perform when it counts on Friday/Saturday nights. When someone sees a teammate lay everything on the line for the squad, they will do the same for them. That bond creates an unbreakable brotherhood that translates into success. Players don’t want to let their comrades down and will give it absolutely everything they have.

It is one reason why NFL legend Brett Favre is one of my favorite players of all time. Favre wasn’t the best quarterback to play the game (NFL league leader in interceptions) and he surely made his share of crucial mistakes in the playoffs, but his teammates would do anything for him because of the toughness (296 consecutive starts) and intangibles he brought to the field and to the locker room.

The Crusaders are three games away from a state championship. Eastside Catholic won back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 2015 but were eliminated in the Class 3A semifinals in November 2016. During spring practice this past June, Putney shared his goals for the 2017 season.

“We don’t want to feel the same pain as we did last year losing to Kamiakin in the semifinals. I know that my fellow seniors and I want to bring back that state championship our senior year. We want to leave a legacy for the younger guys so they can have something to look forward to and know what hard work and dedication gets you,” Putney said on June 16.

Any team that faces the Crusaders this postseason will undoubtedly have to game-plan for No. 3 (Putney) roaming the secondary. I wouldn’t be surprised if Putney’s aspirations of a state championship for his team come true at the Tacoma Dome on Dec. 1.

More in Sports

Issaquah Eagles track athlete Julia David-Smith, left, earned 14th place in the 1-mile run at the Brooks Invitational on June 15 at the University of Washington. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
David-Smith finishes in 14th place in 1-mile run at Brooks Invitational

Issaquah star track athlete continues to dominate on the oval.

Issaquah Eagles 2019 graduate Cooper Thieme will attend Montana State University this fall. Thieme, who will not continue his baseball career in college, plans on majoring in mechanical engineering. Shaun Scott/staff photo
Thieme will always cherish final season of high school baseball

Issaquah 2019 grad Cooper Thieme reflects on final season on the diamond.

Goucher to host summer baseball camp on Eastside

Former professional baseball player and Atlanta Braves scout Steve Goucher will conduct… Continue reading

Seattle Mariners legend Edgar Martinez, left, and Seattle Times columnist Larry Stone, right, collaborated on a book titled, “Edgar: An Autobiography.” Martinez and Stone attended a book signing on June 12 at Barnes Noble in Bellevue. Shaun Scott/staff photo
Legendary Mariner meets a plethora of fans

Edgar Martinez visits Bellevue Barnes & Noble to promote his book.

Eagles baseball team nabs third-place finish at 4A state tournament

Issaquah finishes the 2019 season with 19 victories.

Issaquah Eagles sophomore Matt Wilkinson (center) captured eighth place in the 300 hurdles at the Class 4A state track meet in Tacoma. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
Wilkinson captures eighth place in 300 hurdles

Issaquah sophomore sets school record in prelims.

Issaquah Eagles sophomore Julia David-Smith captured first place in the 1600 and second place in the 3200 at the 4A state track meet, which took place from May 23-25 at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
David-Smith earns first place in the 1600

Issaquah sophomore sets new school record in 3200.

Grittiness propels Eagles on diamond / Column

Issaquah baseball squad clinches berth in 4A state semifinals.

Issaquah Eagles senior Taiga Crenshaw (No. 10) is surrounded by a bevy of Mount Si Wildcats players in the 4A state quarterfinals on May 18 at Gary Moore Stadium in Issaquah. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
Eagles’ comeback rally denied by Wildcats

Mount Si defeats Issaquah, 3-2, in the 4A state soccer quarterfinals.

Issaquah Eagles sophomore hurdler Matt Wilkinson finished in first place in the 300 hurdles at the 4A KingCo track championships with a time of 39.85. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
Wilkinson captures first-place finish in 300 hurdles

Sophomore is proving himself on the track.

Issaquah Eagles senior Sam Griffith earned first place in the 800 at 2019 4A KingCo track championships at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
Griffith earns first place in the 800

Issaquah senior finishes in top spot.

Issaquah Eagles sophomore Julia David-Smith captured first place at the 2019 KingCo Championships in the 4A girls 3,200 with a time of 10:59.05 on May 8 at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland. David-Smith also earned a first-place finish in the 1,600 with a time of 5:00.37. Photo courtesy of Don Borin/Stop Action Photography
David-Smith cruises to first place finishes in the 3,200 and 1,600

Issaquah distance runner continues to dominate.