Skyline defense clamps down, shuts out rival Eastlake

Skyline's offense is arguably one of the most dynamic in the state. But the top-ranked Spartans on Friday proved, yet again, that they also have one of the state's toughest defenses.

Skyline defender Will Chandler goes up to knock a pass away from Eastlake wide receiver Jeff Grotjahn. The Spartans' defense earned its fourth shutout of the season

Skyline defender Will Chandler goes up to knock a pass away from Eastlake wide receiver Jeff Grotjahn. The Spartans' defense earned its fourth shutout of the season

Skyline’s offense is arguably one of the most dynamic in the state.

But the top-ranked Spartans on Friday proved, yet again, that they also have one of the state’s toughest defenses.

Skyline earned its fourth shutout in six games, beating Eastlake 42-0 in the “Battle of the Plateau” in front of a capacity crowd at Skyline Stadium. The Spartans have now outscored opponents by a mark of 258-8, with two of those points coming when the offense gave up a safety late in the Garfield game.

“Only eight points in six games, that’s unbelievable,” Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps said. “You’ve got to take your hat off to (our) defense and (our) special teams. I mean, they’re playing unbelievably now.”

It was indeed the defense and special teams that came up clutch in the first quarter. Within a span of seven seconds, two plays broke a scoreless tie. Outside linebacker Cooper Pelluer broke through the Eastlake line and batted down a Drake Furcini pass. The ball fell right into the hands of Jordan Weil, who took it 20 yards into the end zone.

“I just saw the opportunity, grabbed it and ran and didn’t look back,” Weil said. “It was a bang-bang play.”

On the ensuing kickoff, the Wolves’ Andrew Marzano fumbled the return right into the hands of Ryan Somers, who ran the ball back 12 yards for a score. The touchdown gave the Spartans a 13-0 advantage with 5:47 left in the first quarter, and marked the eighth TD scored by the defense or special teams this season.

“That’s kind of been what’s going on this year,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said. “Our defense and special teams … they’ve done a great job.”

The quick points seemed to deflate Eastlake, which successfully drove down to the Skyline 46 on its opening possession and forced the Spartans to punt on their first possession. The Wolves went on to commit five first-half turnovers — four fumbles and one interception. They had one more fumble in the second half.

Eastlake head coach Gene Dales declined to say much after the loss, but noted: “We’re hurt, beat up, and they’re real good.”

Skyline scored 22 more unanswered points before the half behind the play of Heaps. The junior leapt into the end zone for a 1-yard score and added two touchdown passes of 35 and 26 yards to wide receiver Gino Simone. The duo connected once more at the 5:02 mark of the third quarter on a 1-yard TD pass play. Heaps ended the game 13 for 24 with 168 yards and three TDs, and played a complete third quarter for only the second time this season.

Simone had five catches for 95 yards and three TDs.

“We’ve got so many different plays, and if they’re giving us one thing we can attack that. There’s just so many different things we can do against different defenses,” Simone said.

Furcini was 11 for 19 for 101 yards and one INT. Six different ball carriers totaled 53 yards, giving the Wolves 159 yards of total offense. Eastlake dropped to 1-2 in league and 3-3 overall. Skyline improved to 3-0 in league and 6-0 overall.

“Our team is getting stronger and stronger,” Heaps said. “Having this game under our belt is huge, and we’re just excited for the Issaquah game and (we’ll start getting ready tomorrow) for that game.”

Skyline vs. Issaquah

Kickoff: 7 p.m., Friday at IHS

Quick look: Both teams enter the contest with perfect 6-0 records. Skyline’s defense has been strong, but has yet to be tested by a team with the size and running game of Issaquah. The Eagles have yet to see a team that passes with the efficiency of Skyline.

Prediction: This matchup has the potential to not only be the best matchup in the state this week, but this season. Anticipate a back and forth contest from two of the state’s top 4A contenders. Final score: 28-24 Skyline.

Eastlake vs. Newport

Kickoff: 7 p.m., Friday at EHS

Quick look: Newport (2-1, 4-2) sits a full game ahead of Eastlake (1-2, 3-3) for third place in the KingCo 4A Crest conference with its last two victories coming against winless Redmond and Garfield. Newport’s run-heavy offense has wracked up over 1,000 yards this season. Eastlake has surrendered just over 200 yards on the ground.

Prediction: Eastlake is hungry for a victory and matches up well against Newport’s running game. Final score: 35-14 Eastlake.


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