Issaquah honed in on return trip to postseason | Football preview

Nobody really talks about it — but then again, the goal never really changes for the Issaquah football team.

Issaquah wide receiver Adam Dondoyano cuts up field during a passing drill last week.

Issaquah wide receiver Adam Dondoyano cuts up field during a passing drill last week.

Nobody really talks about it — but then again, the goal never really changes for the Issaquah football team.

“The goals are always the same,” head coach Chris Bennett said. “We want to win our division, we want to win that KingCo Championship game, we want to get back to the playoffs and we want to get back to the (Tacoma) Dome.”

That hunger for success perhaps lingers a little more for this year’s seniors. As sophomores, the group lost a heart-wrenching state championship game to rival Skyline, before falling to Bothell in last year’s state quarterfinals.

“They’ve had a great run in the championship game and the quarterfinals, and I know they’d like to get back there to try to make amends,” Bennett said.

The Eagles certainly have the core to reach those aspirations, led on offense by a senior-laden backfield and receiver corps.

Running back Taylor Wyman reached first-team All-KingCo status as a junior. In nine KingCo games, he rushed 139 times for 839 yards and five touchdowns. He received most of the carries due to an injury to star running back Grant Gellatly, who didn’t play until the playoffs.

“What we missed in Grant last year, we really gained in Wyman getting the experience,” Bennett said.

Senior fullback Nik Landdeck, known for his hard hits at middle linebacker, will pave the way for Wyman.

At receiver, Issaquah returns three of its four starters from last year in seniors Evan Peterson, Adam Dondoyano and Spencer Warren.

Peterson, a first-team All-KingCo selection, continues to creep up the list as the school’s all-time leading receiver.

The Eagles, who were huge on the offensive and defensive lines in past years, lost some key components to graduation, but return two significant pieces in seniors Jay Deines and Jeff Crocker. According to Bennettt, both players stand close to 6-foot-6, 250 pounds.

“We’ve been fortunate with some size the last two years, and having Jay and Jeff back — that helps,” he said.

Senior Paul Goertz will start at center, while junior Austin Richert will move from fullback to guard. Big junior tight end, Eric Lemke (6-4, 235) will also provide some bulk on the line.

One area of uncertainty resides at the quarterback position where the Eagles will have their fourth different starter in four years.

Junior left-hander Ethan Kalin (6-0, 215) moves into the position in 2010, replacing Ryan Bergman.

“He’s got a lot on the ball,” Bennett said. “He’s got really good velocity, arm-strength and he can make all the throws. It’s just getting comfortable at doing it.”

The depth at receiver has already helped the young quarterback adjust. He put forth several big performances over the summer, including a championship at the Lakewood Passing Tournament.

“The receivers are ready to go and just trying to bring Ethan along in the pace where he can catch up,” Bennett said. “He’s done that, he’s had a great summer.”

With focus and avoiding the injury bug, Bennett likes his team’s chances in a Crest Division that appears to have a lot of parity.

“These guys are pretty well grounded,” he said. “You can’t put the cart before the horse and start thinking about that. You can’t lose sight of what else is important.”

In order to find success, Issaquah will also have to find a way to win on the road. The Eagles, who have just three home games, play four of their first five games away from home, including their non-league season opener against Heritage of Vancouver, set for 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3.

In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Sports

Photo courtesy of Panthers Youth Rugby
Panthers Youth Rugby rolls into action

Panthers Youth Rugby is encouraging boys and girls in middle school and… Continue reading

Photo of Eastlake Little League’s All Star Team. From L to R: (Back row) Jackson Wheeler, Kellen Kinney, Sanath Chari, James Ort III, Sule Tian, Eli Jones, Pryce Eadon. (Front row) JJ Hamiltion, Sawyer Todd, Ryder Oswalt, Walter Steinbok, Logan Rausch, Harrison Militello. Photo Courtesy of Jeff Steinbok.
Eastlake’s time at Little League World Series comes to an end

The boys of Eastlake Little League’s 12U all-star team’s time at the… Continue reading

A Decatur High School student in Federal Way participates in a conditioning workout in Feb. 2021 as the state eased back in to in-person activities. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
State announces mask requirements for student sports, performing arts

Athletes are not required to wear masks when participating in sports of any contact level while outside.

Eastlake all-stars score spot in Little League World Series

Eastlake Little League’s 12U all star team was crowned Northwest Regional Champions… Continue reading

Screenshot of video obtained by Redmond police shows Richard Sherman trying to break into the Redmond home of his in-laws.
Former Seattle Seahawks player Richard Sherman charged with five misdemeanors in King County

Charges were filed following an incident at home of Sherman’s in-laws in Redmond.

Redmond Police arrest former Seattle Seahawk Richard Sherman

Redmond Police allege former Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman crashed into a… Continue reading

Snoqualmie Casino unveiled the first immersive Seahawks-branded table game experience Sept. 18, 2020, in a ribbon cutting dedication with Snoqualmie Tribe Council members and Snoqualmie Casino executives. Courtesy photo
Gambling Commission OKs pacts with tribes for sports betting

Agreements with 15 tribes await approval by the governor and the feds.

Issaquah notches girls soccer victory

Issaquah’s girls soccer team celebrates a goal during its 4-0 victory over… Continue reading

Registration open for Panthers Youth Rugby

By Sophie Demandolx Special to the Reporter If you are a teenager… Continue reading

Kentwood High football. FILE PHOTO
WIAA Executive Board revises Season 1 sports in response to state guidelines

Practices scheduled to begin Feb. 1 for football, volleyball, soccer and 5 other sports

The Mercer Island boys basketball celebrates their 61-36 victory over Interlake in the 3A KingCo championship game on Feb. 11, 2020, at Sammamish High School. File photo
WIAA pushes back return to play for prep sports

Season 2 now begins Feb. 1 and seasons have been shortened to seven weeks each.

In this file photo from March 2020, the Federal Way High School boys basketball team reacts in the final minutes of the state quarterfinals game against Mt. Si High School. File photo
New guidelines released for return of prep sports in WA

The new plan places counties and sports in three-tier systems. No signs of a quicker return to play.