Last season didn’t end the way the Eastlake Wolves football team wanted it to on the gridiron.
The Wolves, who put together a formidable 6-3 record during the 2017 season, missed out on the playoffs by the slimmest of margins. Eastlake head coach Don Bartel said a loss in the sixth week of the season against Skyline in triple overtime played a pivotal factor in his team missing the postseason in 2017.
That loss has fueled the Eastlake coaching staff and players in spring workouts.
“There was a lot to be taken from that game for the kids and our (coaching) staff. In the end, we are going to make sure that it was a good thing for us,” Bartel said of using that loss as motivation in 2018.
While the Wolves graduated a plethora of impactful players, including quarterback Connor Brown, wide receiver/defensive back Hank Pladson, receiver/defensive back Jaxon Williams and offensive/defensive lineman Spencer Thompson, the cupboard is far from bare on the Wolves’ talented roster. Bartel said junior Grady Robinson and sophomore Jackson Proctor are competing for the starting quarterback position during spring drills. Senior receiver/defensive back Nate Sutter will be a prolific player in the passing game this fall. Pass catchers Carter Cox, Vinnie Monteiro and Jack Rud will also be reliable targets in the Wolves’ offense.
“We have a good group of young kids but they need to learn the system and they need to learn it quick. We have the athletic ability on the field right now,” Bartel said of his youthful squad.
One of the strengths of the Wolves’ roster this season will be in the offensive and defensive line. Bartel said Zach Kennedy, William Woodgate, Garrick Teglovic, Sam Marks, Cam Lynch and Jake O’Donnell will anchor a talented group in the trenches.
“We are strong up front. With Garrett Carney returning at running back, it could be a really fun year,” Bartel said.
Bartel believes his squad will be tested during non-conference action this September. The Wolves open the season against Monroe on Aug. 31 and travel to Vancouver for matchup against powerhouse program Union in the third week of the season.
“The schedule is set up for us to be challenged early. It is going to be baptism by fire. The expectation for us is to take care of your teammates, do what is difficult and go as hard as you can. We are going down to Union and they are loaded with talent,” Bartel said.
Bartel, who will be in his sixth season as the Wolves head coach this coming season, is the kind of coach who enjoys being fully entrenched in the community.
“It is crazy to think at one point Jackson Proctor and Hank Pladson were campers of the week at our youth football camp. Hank is graduating (this June) and Jackson is going to be a sophomore this year. That part is so fun and is really neat. Now we have the little brothers of some of the kids I coached and also have other families where their oldest kids are about to come through the program,” Bartel said. “That is the part of high school football that is so cool, kids playing in their community for their home school.”