For the past three weeks, Eastside Catholic and head coach Jeremy Thielbahr haven’t been forced to endure much drama.
But after outscoring their past three foes 138-21, the Crusaders know this week’s game with O’Dea will provide all the challenges they could ever hope for.
EC enters this game with bragging rights from the previous season for only the second time in a decade after last year’s 35-21 win at West Seattle Stadium that sent the Crusaders to the Metro League title game and was the springboard to the run through the 3A state tournament.
Last year it was Trey Reynolds giving the Irish fits at quarterback and in 2013, O’Dea will once again face a playmaking signal caller in sophomore Harley Kirsch. The first-year starter has been nearly flawless through the air, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1,063 yards, 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.
While he hasn’t been the factor Reynolds was in the run game, a stable of EC running backs have proven themselves capable of shouldering the load, with seven players scoring at least one rushing touchdown on the year.
Senior Henry Jarvis has been the workhorse, with his 84 carries on the year equaling the total of the next three leading rushers combined. He is averaging just more than 10 yards per carry on the year to go with nine touchdowns and will face an O’Dea defense that has allowed more than seven points only once on the year, in a 51-26 win over 4A Issaquah nearly a month ago.
In its past three games, the Irish allowed a combined six points to Seattle Prep, Ingraham and Blanchet, shutting out the Panthers and Braves.
Eastside Catholic has been no slouch on the defensive side, allowing double-digit scoring in only two of its six games and holding opponents to an average of 14.5 points per game.
It will face an O’Dea offense powered as usual by a host of running backs and a physically imposing quarterback in senior Pierre Le Dorze, who at 6-foot-2, 200-plus pounds is capable of staring down most any defender.
The winner will need only to avoid an upset in the final week of the season to claim the Mountain Division crown and berth in the Metro League title game in two weeks.