After months of camps, 7-on-7 tournaments and scrimmages, the wait is over.
Area high school football teams kicked off the season last night, with Issaquah upsetting Bothell, 24-13.
Fellow KingCo 4A Crest rivals Eastlake and Skyline begin their seasons tonight and tomorrow. Eastlake travels to Mount Si tonight to face the non-league Wildcats, while Skyline opens its season tomorrow against Sheldon (Eugene, Ore.) as part of the “Best of the West” series at Portland’s PGE Park. Sammamish’s newest school, Eastside Catholic, starts its season tomorrow afternoon against Eisenhower in the “Kick-Off Classic” at Qwest Field.
Eastlake vs. Mount Si
Coming off one of its best seasons in school history, Eastlake prepares to take the field again tonight against KingCo 3A Mount Si.
The Wolves finished their 2007 campaign with a 10-2 record, coming up just shy in the state quarterfinals with a 24-21 loss to Edmonds-Woodway.
Several new faces will take to the field tonight for Eastlake, at key positions.
“Even though we only have one true starter coming back on offense and three on defense, we have other kids who started at least a couple of games and played quite a bit filling in the gaps for us,” head coach Gene Dales said. “It’s not as bare as it would seem by the numbers, but experience isn’t going to be one of our strengths at the start of the season.”
Senior quarterback Drake Furcini will get his first start, while running backs Steven Nasca and Cameron Hunt will anchor the backfield. In limited minutes, Furcini was 7-for-9 passing for 148 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Nasca and Hunt combined for 500 yards and eight TDs.
Mount Si, on the other hand, brings back a large core from a team that finished 5-5 and in fifth place of the KingCo 3A. Among that group are senior quarterback Tyson Riley (62-for-146, 878 yards, nine TDs and six INTs) and the leading rusher from last year, Sean Snead (743 yards, seven TDs). The Wildcats return five other starters to their defense, making them a dangerous team to contend with. Two of the seven coaches in the KingCo 3A picked them to finish first in front of Bellevue.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Mount Si High School Stadium.
Skyline vs. Sheldon
Skyline has received a plethora of preseason recognition, including a national top 25 ranking from ESPN (No. 24), among several others. The Spartans will have a chance to back them up for the first time tomorrow night when they face Sheldon of Eugene Ore. — another nationally ranked team (No. 50).
“They’re carbon copies of us in a way,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said. “It’s almost uncanny. They’re a suburban school, the social economic class is very similar, the colors are the same, we run the same offense. The game will probably last about four hours because we’ll throw it so much.”
Skyline is coming off a 14-0 season that netted them the 3A state championship. The Spartans return several key elements, including junior quarterback Jake Heaps. As a sophomore, Heaps threw for over 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. He also had nearly 300 yards on the ground and 15 rushing TDs. Heaps has five main targets coming back, including senior and recent Washington State recruit Gino Simone, who had 1,400 yards receiving and 18 TDs. Sophomore Kasen Williams, and seniors Will Chandler, Jake Knecht and Ryan Somers also all had big seasons.
Sheldon, Oregon’s 6A champion from last year, brings a strong passing attack as well. Junior quarterback Jordan Johnson threw for nearly 2,100 yards, had 17 TDs and rushed for 900 yards and eight TDs. Junior Curtis White is the top returning receiver. He had 25 catches for 365 yards and five TDs. Among an already large group of lineman, the Irish also recently acquired 6-foot-6, 305-pound transfer Charles Siddoway.
“They’ve got some great kids,” Taylor said.
Sheldon is already 1-0 after defeating Churchill of Eugene 50-7 last week.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. at PGE Park in Portland.
Eastside Catholic vs. Eisenhower
Eastside Catholic begins its campaign for a Metro 3A title tomorrow afternoon in a non-league matchup against 4A Eisenhower of Yakima.
The Crusaders finished 2007 with an 8-2 record, with their only losses coming against league rival O’Dea in the regular season and Franklin Pierce in state qualifying game.
Eastside Catholic returns 26 seniors to this year’s team and hopes to match the start it got off to last year.
“We opened against a 4A team and beat them, so hopefully that gave our kids a little bit of confidence,” head coach Bill Marsh said. “Last year we played Graham-Kapowasan and we were definitely the heavy underdogs but we kind of surprised them a little bit and I think that helped spring-board us into the season.”
The Crusaders will focus heavily on their running game, with senior Zach Cuaresma taking the reigns at quarterback and the return of 1,000-yard rusher Mike Bush. Marsh calls Cuaresma one of the most mobile quarterbacks he’s had in a long time, hinting that they will run a lot more option plays this season.
Eisenhower finished 7-3 and in fourth place of the 4A Columbia Basin. The Cadets center their spread offense around returning quarterback Taylor Elmo and wide receivers Jordan Gaut and Chad Brown.
Kickoff is set for noon at Qwest Field. Three other games will be played at Qwest Field tomorrow, including Fife vs. Cascade Christian at 9:30 a.m.; Puyallup vs. Bellarmine Prep, 3 p.m.; Kennedy vs. Kentwood, 5:30 p.m. and Punahou (Hawaii) vs. Central Kitsap, 8 p.m.