The End Zone | High school football season lines up to be region’s best ever

Not long and the sound of team chants, the slapping of pads, and the high-pitched tweet of whistles will emanate from the Plateau down the hill to Issaquah.

Not long and the sound of team chants, the slapping of pads, and the high-pitched tweet of whistles will emanate from the Plateau down the hill to Issaquah.

Aug. 19 marks the first day high school football teams are allowed to practice.

While there’s still a week before teams hit the field, its certainly not too early to take a peek at what could be the most exciting football seasons this region has ever seen.

It all starts with two-time defending state champion Skyline, which is targeting its third straight title — a feat only one other class 3A or 4A football team has ever accomplished. Bellevue took four straight championships between 2001 and 2004.

Skyline is also riding a 28-game win streak, having not lost since its final game of the 2006-2007 season.

But that’s not what the vortex of national attention is focusing on. A single, non-conference game, has placed the spotlight on the Plateau. Skyline will face Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, Calif., Sept. 18 at SHS in a game nationally televised on ESPN2. And there is no doubt which storyline the media will sink its teeth into — the quarterback position. Skyline senior Jake Heaps, rated the No. 1 quarterback prospect in the nation by many publications, recently chose BYU over the University of Washington. On the other side is senior Nick Montana, son of NFL legend Joe Montana, and a recent University of Washington signee. Internet message boards have lit up since the players’ announcements were made in June, leaving some area football fans at a crossroads as to who they’ll root for — the future University of Washington player, or the local talent.

There’s a whole other cast of players that can’t be forgotten, including Skyline junior wide receiver Kasen Williams, one of the most sought after college recruits for the class of 2011. Oaks Christian also has actor Will Smith’s son, Trey, starting at wide receiver, along with hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s son, Trevor, as the back-up quarterback.

While the Oak’s Christian contest is a mammoth non-conference matchup, Skyline opens its season, Sept. 5 with another huge non-league battle. The Spartans face Jesuit High School — the Oregon state champions in 2006 and 2007, and a 2008 state semifinalist — in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field.

Skyline draws most of the national attention to the area, but there are a ton of interesting subplots among the region’s other three teams.

Issaquah will look for redemption after losing a 20-15 heartbreaker to Skyline in last year’s 4A state title game. The team lost several significant components, including their quarterback, but also return key players on both sides of the ball including running back Grant Gellatly and linebacker Nik Landdeck.

Eastlake, which finished 6-4 and made the preliminary round of the state playoffs, returns 20-plus seniors, led by quarterback Kelby McCorkle.

Eastside Catholic will also be an interesting team to watch under the direction of former Washington State University and NFL quarterback Jason Gesser. The new coach inherits almost an entirely new roster to implement a system that will undoubtedly focus more on the pass than in years past.

To answer the famous question by Hank Williams, Jr., “Are you ready for some football?”

Yes, it can’t come soon enough.