Eastlake has a new head football coach for 2013, and it is one who is more than familiar with the area.
Don Bartel, who spent 2012 coordinating the 4A state champion Skyline defense and had previously held the same title with the Wolves under now-retired Gene Dales, will now have the reins of the program after Dales’ departure and a year spent mostly under Pat Parnell.
Eastlake athletic director Pat Bangasser said while his new head coach is certainly a known commodity among staff and the Eastlake community, it was his coaching chops and dedication to the school that stood out among the 15 candidates.
“He can impact the whole school,” Bangasser said, adding that Bartel will be back teaching at Eastlake in 2013. “He’s expressed interest that this is the place he wants to be as opposed to using this place as a stepping stone.”
Bartel, who left his previous tenure with the Wolves as a teacher and coach to take the head position at Enumclaw, reiterated that sentiment in no uncertain terms.
“I’ve said it to my Skyline kids and I’ll tell it to the Eastlake kids, this is my last football job,” Bartel said. “I’m looking forward to working not just with the football kids but all the kids in the school.”
While Skyline’s success was a forgone conclusion throughout much of the year with the nation’s top-ranked quarterback in Max Browne leading an offensive attack that was seemingly unstoppable, Bartel said his primary objective as defensive coordinator was to create an identity for that unit.
Rather than allowing the defense to simply exist as a footnote to outstanding offensive performances, Bartel led a group that did not allow more than 28 points in a game all year and held opponents to an average of just more than 16 points per game in six playoff wins.
“Our biggest challenge was developing an identity,” he said. “It gave us something to push for.”
Eastlake will welcome back key pieces on both sides of the ball after replacing all 22 starters (and a head coach) during the 2012 season. Running back Drew Lewis and quarterback Blue Thomas will give Bartel a pair of dynamic offensive threats, but he said the primary objective is creating a culture of confidence around the program.
“You’re going to see kids that play with speed, play with passion and play with confidence,” Bartel said. “We want to give everyone something to root for.”