Eagles moving by air and land, Wolves looking to speed up | Inside Slants

The Issaquah-Sammamish Reporter takes a look at some of the things to look for in tonight's prep football action.

Football is back.

Barring any kind of weather-related hazard like the lightening storm that cancelled the second half of the O’Dea-Gig Harbor game at West Seattle Stadium on Thursday, all four prep squads in Issaquah and Sammamish will either be lamenting missed opportunities and scratching for a win, or warning off complacency and keeping an edge heading into week two.

The Reporter has one thing to watch for in each game this weekend. Have predictions of your own? Leave them in the comments.

Issaquah @ Interlake, Friday, 7 p.m.

Gellatly, Issy offense looking forward to grind

Coaching changes usually require an acclimation period and the Saints begin theirs tonight in the most uncomfortable of ways, dealing with the hard-hat style of Issaquah senior and 4A All-KingCo running back Jack Gellatly.

“He comes to play, and brings his lunchpail,” head coach Chris Bennett said. “You know what you get with him.”

Bennett said his squad also boasts a talented corps of pass catchers that includes Derek Chapman, Tommy Nelson and Jeff Shipley.

“It might be, collectively, the best group we’ve had,” he said. “I think one through six, it is as strong as we’ve been.”

Lakes @ Eastlake, Friday, 7 p.m.

Fast getting faster for Wolves

New head coach Don Bartel is nothing if not energetic, and the excitement has already begun spilling over.

“Everyone is excited to be part of the program,” senior captain Brandon Kaufman said, adding the upperclassmen and players with varsity experience have been doing more coaching-up of the younger guys than in past seasons.

Bartel said the formula for success on Friday nights is simple: play fast.

It was a staple of the Skyline defense that won the 4A state title last year and something Bartel acknowledged takes time to acquire and then sustain as a team.

“The single greatest determinant of success in high school football is speed of play,” he said. “If you’re faster, you win.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean just straight-line speed at the skill positions.

Bartel said once his group at Skyline last year began to more fully understand the concepts of his schemes, they were able to “play free” and react without thinking, the base of all lockdown defenses.

“In the beginning of the year, we didn’t really figure out what fast was,” he said of that group, which gave up 20 or more points in each of its first three games. “By Week 5, our guys were flying around.”

The Wolves will need to adjust the pace immediately against Lakes, a program known for speedsters and its outstanding athleticism.

Eastside Catholic @ Liberty, Friday, 7 p.m.

Sophomore steps into spotlight for Crusaders

The run back to the Tacoma Dome begins for the Crusaders against a Liberty squad that finished in the bottom half of KingCo last year and will try to slow an offense led by one of the area’s potential breakout performers in Harley Kirsch.

Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr wasn’t shy about praising the sophomore first-year starter, saying the potential is there for something special.

“He’s a student of the game and an athlete and understands our system,” he said, adding Kirsch is an even more adept passer than two-time Metro Player of the Year Trey Reynolds.

It didn’t take long for things to get out of hand last year, as the Crusaders took a 21-0 lead into the break and unless the Patriots find a way to slow Kirsch and the running back duo of Henry Jarvis and Brandon Wellington, it could be more of the same tonight.

Skyline VS. Bellevue @ Husky Stadium, Saturday, 7 p.m.

Playmakers in key moments

The game everyone in the state has been waiting for (and some wish could be played after the state tournaments) concludes the first week of action around the state in the most iconic of settings at renovated Husky Stadium, and as usual when these two get together there will be no shortage of top-shelf talent.

Skyline turns to senior transfer Kilton Anderson at quarterback for the departed All-American Max Browne and knows it has a different animal in the dual-threat from Naples, Fla.

“I’m going to run around a little bit more,” he said. “I’m not a pro-style quarterback.”

Anderson will need to do plenty with his arms and legs and the Spartans will have to hope the production of their running backs can match the efficiency of the departed Cedric Cooper. Early returns have been positive on sophomore Rashaad Boddie, another transfer to the team in 2013, and he will be one of a host of Skyline skill position players who will be looked to in more prominent roles than last season.

While Bellevue also graduated a heavily-loaded senior class from last year’s team, it could be the program’s most talented player ever in Budda Baker leading the way this year in all three phases of the game and whichever team’s playmakers find a way to step up in the big moments-Sean Constantine’s second-half interception return touchdown of Browne two years ago-will have the inside track to top bragging rights.

Josh Suman: jsuman@bellevuereporter.com; 425-453-5045