The Eastlake Wolves very first offensive play from scrimmage against the Issaquah Eagles in the season opener on the gridiron didn’t go according to plan.
Eastlake Wolves’ junior quarterback Connor Brown, who was making his first-ever varsity start, was sacked after being hit directly in the chest on a bone-crushing sack by Issaquah right defensive end Max Dalquist.
The early game setback didn’t phase Brown.
Brown shook off the big hit and was the best player on the field for the rest of the game. Brown connected on six touchdown passes, leading the Wolves to a convincing 42-14 victory against the Eagles in the season opener on Sept. 1 at Gary Moore Stadium in Issaquah. Brown connected with speedster Jaxon Williams on three of his touchdown tosses. The Wolves’ signal caller also hooked up with Wolves’ wide receiver Hank Pladson on two touchdown passes and hit Nate Sutter for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Williams wasn’t surprised to see Brown click on all cylinders in his first game under the bright glare of Friday night lights.
“It was just awesome,” Williams said. “We knew what was coming for him. All summer he has just been putting in work. The fact that he got six [touchdown passes] tonight just shows what kind of quarterback he is. We were really excited to see him throw.”
Williams speed was on display on all three of his touchdown catches (38 yards, 63 yards and 29 yards).
“I was able to create separation and use my speed well tonight,” he said.
Pladson’s athletic ability was evident on both of his touchdowns. Pladson hauled in a 12-yard touchdown reception courtesy of a one-handed grab with 9:49 left in the third quarter. Pladson’s second touchdown came on a screen pass where he dove successfully for the pylon for a 11-yard touchdown score with 4:47 to go in regulation.
Brown said the Wolves took advantage of Issaquah’s man-to-man pass defense.
“I knew that we had playmakers,” Brown said. “I just had to get them the ball. I knew they were going to make plays and beat their man. [Issaquah] came out in man coverage. No one could cover Jaxon and definitely no one in the [KingCo] league can cover Hank. I had all the confidence in them and in my offensive line. Hank is a freak. That one-handed catch in the corner, that was a mediocre throw but an extraordinary catch. He is playmaker. That is what he is. He doesn’t get enough recognition for that.”
Brown also connected with Sutter on a perfectly thrown 22-yard touchdown strike on a fade route with 6:55 left in the second quarter. Eastlake head coach Don Bartel couldn’t have been more impressed with Brown’s performance.
“He did all the things that you wanted him to do,” Bartel said of Brown. “He had a great presence in the pocket and he made progressive reads. When he threw the ball, he threw it so strong. There were a couple of times where [Issaquah] got loose with some pressure and got him (first play of the game). It didn’t faze him.”
Issaquah was led by the gritty performance from junior quarterback Trevor Morine. Morine had two rushing touchdowns for the Eagles and continually had success with his legs against the formidable Eastlake defensive front.
“We just sat in base (defense) and learned our lessons the hard way. We gave up 14 [points] and that kid (Morine) punished us a little bit,” Bartel said.
The Wolves will face the Woodinville Falcons in a Class 4A KingCo showdown at 7 p.m. on Sept. 9 at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell. Woodinville was one of only three teams that defeated Eastlake during the 2016 season.
“I’m pumped,” Brown said. “They got us last year. I think honestly we are just as good as last year, if not better. I know they haven’t lost much either. It is going to be a good game. We’re excited.”
Bartel concurred with his signal caller’s assessment of the matchup against the Falcons.
“What a great test it is for us,” Bartel said. “Week 2 lets go after the big dog and finds out how good we are. I’m excited to watch film and see where they (Woodinville) are at. I have heard that they look good. It is going to be great for us. We are going to love it. Saturday night at Pop Keeney, it’s going to be perfect.”