Shaun Scott/staff photo Eastlake Wolves wide receiver Soham Paul, right, makes a move up the field during Eastlake’s fourth spring practice session on June 2 at Eastlake High School in Sammamish.

Wolves are poised to take the next step on gridiron

Eastlake Wolves football coaches shouted words of encouragement throughout the duration of the fourth spring football practice under the bright sunshine of early June.

The Wolves, who were partaking in their fourth spring practice session on June 2, are striving to unveil a breakthrough season this fall on the gridiron. Eastlake went 7-4 during the 2016 season and lost 31-14 to the Skyline Spartans in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

Eastlake senior wide receiver Hank Pladson expects his team to eclipse last season’s performance.

“We know we’ve prepared well in the off-season doing everything we can so we can succeed this year,” said Pladson, who earned KingCo 4A first-team all-league honors as a wide receiver during the 2016 season. “Our main focus is really trying to beat those three teams that we lost to last year, which were Skyline [twice], Woodinville and Bothell. We lost to the top three teams in our [KingCo 4A] league. We got to make an impact this year in the league.”

Wolves’ head coach Don Bartel, who will be in his fifth season as head coach this fall, concurred with Pladson’s assessment.

“A mark of a really great team is a team that can beat teams they maybe aren’t supposed to beat, and win games they aren’t supposed to win. Last year, we beat everybody we were supposed to beat and we won big, but when it came to the contested and really competitive games, we had the ball in our hands at the end and didn’t complete it,” Bartel said. “Right now our whole focus is just competing. It is about bringing these guys together as a group, having them gel as a group and getting excited about their opportunities and believing they can get it done. It builds confidence in our guys. They are flying around and getting in the groove. It makes a big difference.”

Bartel said the addition of strength and conditioning coach Drew Buchkoski in January has already made a huge difference on the field. Buchkoski was the strength and conditioning coach on the 2010 Ferris Class 4A state title team as well as the 2013 Chiawana Class 4A state championship team.

“[Buchkoski] is just doing great there. It is a practice everyday with the way he runs it. If they don’t bring effort, they start over. There is a level of expectation that is always there,” Bartel said of Buchkoski’s training sessions with his players. “We’ve known each other for about nine years. It is really nice to have him here now. It makes a huge difference.”

The Wolves will have a new starting signal caller this September. Connor Brown, who backed up starter Ben Howard last season, will be under center in the season opener as the starter on Sept. 1 against the rival Issaquah Eagles. Bartel has complete confidence in Brown leading his team in 2017.

“Connor has done everything he has needed to do off-season wise. He has been in the weight room and gets after it. Even at the end of practice there, he was ripping off push-ups. He takes a lot of pride in what he does, and we’re expecting huge things from him because of it,” Bartel said. “We’ve always said he throws the best deep ball in the entire program.”


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 editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. 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

The WIAA announced Wednesday that if schools reopen at the conclusion of the six-week statewide shutdown ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, then the state championships will go on as planned. (WIAA photo)
WIAA still hoping to hold state championships in May

But if the school shutdown extends past April 24, those championships could be in jeopardy.

Worker at 3A, 4A state basketball tournament tests positive for COVID-19

In a statement released on March 13, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association… Continue reading

Eagles hold on, take fourth at state

Issaquah held on for a 67-56 victory over Todd Beamer in the girls 4A state tournament.

Issaquah picks up character win over Moses Lake

The Eagles made nine 3-pointers to beat the Chiefs and advance to the fourth-place game.

Issaquah outworked on the boards in loss

The Eagles were outrebounded 42-18 in loss to Central Valley in state quarterfinals.

Hardwood Classic tips off after coronavirus outbreak

By Benjamin Olson and Andy Nystrom Basketball players took to the court… Continue reading

Issaquah shows toughness in victory over Kentridge

The Issaquah girls basketball team opened the 4A state tournament with 57-35 win.

Eagles net all-league honors

Seven Issaquah basketball players were named to the 4A KingCo all-league boys… Continue reading

Reporter file photo
No changes to state basketball tournament schedules after coronavirus outbreak

State boys and girls basketball Hardwood Classic tournaments in Tacoma, Yakima and… Continue reading

Most school events, including sports practices, on schedule after coronavirus outbreak

All the school districts in the Reporter’s coverage areas — Northshore, Lake… Continue reading

Eagles fly past Kentwood to advance to state

The Issaquah girls basketball team is heading to the Tacoma Dome for the first time in 10 years.

Issaquah swim and dive team and gymnasts compete at state meets

Gymnastics: Six Issaquah gymnasts competed at the 4A state gymnastics meet Feb.… Continue reading