Eastlake faces top-ranked Camas, Eastside Catholic one win from return to Tacoma Dome | Prep football news

The quarterfinals of the 4A and 3A Gridiron Classic state football tournaments are Saturday, as Eastlake faces Camas and Eastside Catholic meets Meadowdale.

Easltlake (9-2) VS. Camas (12-0), 3 p.m. Saturday

There is perhaps no cliche more overused in sports parlance than a team becoming a family.

But for last year’s Eastlake football team, it was not reality.

“I think we had family aspects,” junior Jeffrey Feinglas said of last year’s group. “There were almost families inside of a family, and that wasn’t good.”

A turbulent start to the season included an 0-2 start, an uncertain quarterback situation with Blue Thomas making the transition as a transfer and the resignation of longtime head coach Gene Dales for personal reasons after the second week of the season.

Interim head coach and current assistant Pat Parnell stemmed the tide and got the team to the conference crossover round, where upstart Roosevelt abruptly finished their season and set the stage for a resurgent 2013.

“That was an empty feeling,” Feinglas said of the season-ending loss to the Roughriders. “It has helped a lot, seeing each person fighting for each other.”

With a quarterfinal date against top-ranked and unbeaten Camas at 3 p.m. Saturday in Sammamish, the Wolves are in for their toughest fight yet.

“You can feel the energy out here,” Bartel said during his team’s Tuesday practice. “Guys are practicing hard, everyone is excited to be here, there is a hop in the step.”

The Papermakers bring an offense that has ran ruff-shot over opponents, posting an average of better than 60 points per game, scoring no fewer than 47 and topping out at 85 against Battle Ground.

But Bartel said it is the pedigree of Camas, a team that has won 24 of its last 25 games and made the state semi-finals two straight years, which is the biggest difference challenge they bring to Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“The reality is, it comes down to being there,” Bartel said. “They’ve been there before.”

While his own team is making its first state tournament appearance since 2011, which came with a senior-dominated squad, rebounding from two straight losses to win seven straight has left this year’s group feeling like the pinnacle is within reach.

“It feels really good,” Feinglas said. “We just feel more confident.”

Eastside Catholic (10-2) VS. Meadowdale (8-4), 5 p.m. Saturday, Seattle Memorial Stadium

A 75-yard touchdown pass from Harley Kirsch to Brandon Wellington in the final minute of the game erased a tie after a Marysville-Pilchuck score and sent Eastside Catholic to a 42-35 win and the quarterfinals of the 3A state football tournament this week against Meadowdale.

The Crusaders, winners of four straight and eight of their last nine games, overcame a standout performance from junior Austin Joyner last week to leave Quil Ceda Stadium with a win on Kirsch’s second touchdown pass on the night.

Wellington, a sophomore, finished as his team’s leading rusher with 95 yards on 25 carries, also catching 4 passes for 121 yards and the game-winner. The Mavericks from Lynnwood have won a pair of playoff games to salvage their season and move one win from the Tacoma Dome after three consecutive losses to close the regular season.

A win for the Crusaders would mean the program’s second ever, and second consecutive, trip to the state semi-finals and a possible rematch with O’Dea.

Monte Kohler’s Irish meet Mountain View Friday in Vancouver in another quarterfinal and were the last team to beat EC, 63-45 in mid-October.