3A Final Preview: Eastside Catholic Crusaders vs Bellevue Wolverines

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Eastside Catholic Crusaders (12-0) vs Bellevue Wolverines (11-1)

7:30 pm Friday at the Tacoma Dome

 

All-Time State Tournament

Eastside Catholic: Entries – 14; Record – 17-12; Best Finish – Champion (2014)

Bellevue: Entries – 23; Record – 57-10; Best Finish – Champion (1983, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)

 

About Eastside Catholic:

Head Coach: Jeremy Thielbahr (5th year)

When Jeremy Thielbahr took over at Eastside Catholic the program was ripe and ready to explode to the level of the elites, and full credit goes to Thielbahr and his staff in the success of the program in the last five years.

Since Thielbahr has taken over the Crusaders have seen a steady rise in the State tournament. They are 12-3 overall in the playoffs under Thielbahr, with all three losses coming to Bellevue, before beating them last season.

The Crusaders have schedules some tough out of state games the last few seasons and along with games against Bellevue and O’Dea, this team is very much battle tested.

 

About Bellevue:

Head Coach: Butch Goncharoff (16th year)

Bellevue was in a similar situation when Butch Goncharoff took over for Bill Heglar. They were kind of just another team in the tough Kingco conference, and Goncharoff instantly took them to new heights.

When all is said and done, Goncharoff will go down as one of the all-time greats in this state, and rightfully so. Goncharoff has 11 state championships in just 14 years, including 6 in a row from 2008-2013.

Goncharoff and his staff have done a great job this season focusing the athletes and getting the most out of them on a weekly basis.

 

Eastside Catholic on Offense:

Offensively they are led by Cornell commit Harley Kirsch. The senior gunslinger is closing out one of the most successful careers in state history and recently became the 6th QB all-time to pass for 10,000 career yards.

You will see a combo of three talented backs lining up next to Kirsch. Tyler Foulkes (’17) and Chris Lefau (’17) share a bulk of the carries, Foulkes currently leads the Crusaders in rushing yards with 667, while Lefau comes in not far behind with 509 yards, and each has 10 rushing TD’s on the season. The “change-or-pace” back if you will is UW commit Brandon Wellington (’16). He does most of his damage on the defensive side of the ball, but will likely get some carries when the team needs a spark.

Eastside Catholic is closing in on three 1,000 yard receivers on offense. TE Hunter Bryant (’17) leads the way with 1,066 yards and 15 TD’s, University of California commit Matt Laris actually leads the team in receptions with 60 and isn’t far behind with 1,054 yards and he has nine TD’s. Last but certainly not least is Devon Arbis-Jackson who currently sits at 47 receptions for 824 yards and 10 TD’s.

Offensive Line coach Wes Potter is one of the more underrated assistant coaches in the state and does a tremendous job getting his group ready. The biggest name is Brody McKnight (’17), but he will not play again after having shoulder surgery. Even with the loss of McKnight they do toss out a very talented bunch. Colin Stoutt (’16) was voted first team All-Metro for his work at tackle, while Nick Alling (’16) and Robbie Carter (’16) were awarded as second team members. Sam Rossmeissl (’16) mans the middle at Center, while Ephraim Vea (’18) solidifies LG. You may also see Jason Medeiros (’19) in at one of the guard spots.

 

Bellevue on Offense:

Justus Rogers (’16) is the key component to the Wolverine offense. He is a capable passer and has the legs to do some great things in the run game, but the ability he has to sell a fake in the Wing-T offense is what will really catch your eye, or maybe you will miss it. The understand Rogers has of the offense is tremendous and he does a great job holding fakes until the defense makes a move, then pulls the ball and hands off elsewhere. It really is a thing of beauty.

Ercle Terrell (’16) does most of the dirty work and eats up lots of yardage up the middle. Christoph Hirota (’16) is an unsung hero for the Wolverines and after a few years of very good specials teams work, got a full load of carries this season, and showed he is very capable of being a solid RB. A name to keep an eye on is Isaiah Ifanse (’18), as he will get some carries and looks to be the future of the Wolverine backfield. Also look for versatile backs Jesse Beringer (’16) and Thomas Leisy (’16) to get some carries, as the Wolverines use a very deep rotation.

Tyson Penn (’16) is committed to Oregon State and is a freak athlete, garnering first team All-Kingco honors. He is one of the all-time great track and field athletes in this state, and has really worked hard to improve his game as a WR. TE Will Swanson (’16) does most of his damage as a blocker, while Isaac Garcia (’16) is more of a receiving threat, and is also committed to Oregon State. You will also see Jacob Garcia (’16), twin to Isaac, get an opportunity to make some plays, and many believe he is under-the-radar with lots of potential in the coming years.

Marquise Deweert (’16) was voted Kingco’s Lineman of the Year for his work on both sides of the ball, as well as being named first team All-Kingco as. Francis Haroon (’16) is a first team All-Kingco member, while Cameron Files (’16) was voted second team, and Eron Kross (’16) was listed as Honorable Mention for his work at tackle. Omar Dyles (’16) is a two-way lineman, but is best known on defense. Zach England (’17) rounds out a very tough-athletic line that goes a great job opening holes.

 

Eastside Catholic on Defense:

The Crusaders go with a 3-man defensive line. Ryan Taylor (’18) and Ricky Medeiros (’16) are the team’s two leading tacklers, with 78 and 76 respectively. It is very rare for leading tacklers to come from a 3-man defensive line, but credit those two for their efforts. Plugging the middles last week vs Lakes was Will Vea (’19), brother to Ephraim. Will is 6’1′ and listed at 255, but plays much bigger.

For the last few years the Crusaders have terrorized opposing offenses with tough linebackers that could get sideline-to-sideline. While you may not recognize many names, this year’s bunch is equally talented as those from past years. Noah Failauga (’16) mans the middle of what is a 3-3 defensive front, and does a fantastic job setting the tone. He is flanked by Parker Davidson (’16) and Sam Moran (’16), both are capable of playing tough run defense and able to run with just about any slot receiver.

Brandon Wellington makes his biggest mark as what many would call a rover. Some would say he is a safety, some would say he is a 4th linebacker, and neither assessment would be wrong. They back end is led by two of my favorite safeties in the state with Jonathan Webster (’16) and Jimmy Jolliffe (’16). Webster is committed to plat next season at Columbia, while Jolliffe is being overlooked and has yet to receive an offer.

Malik Putney (’18) is a name to remember at one CB spot, while Victor Guevara (’16) manned the other side. Putney has the look of being a big time DB and has lockdown capabilities and just the right amount of swagger to get under his opponents skin.

 

Bellevue on Defense:

Bellevue uses a 4-man defensive front that is really anchored by the play of Marquise Deweert and Omar Dyles in the middle. Deweert is one of the more underrated DT’s in the state and does a tremendous job, while Dyles has a few D1 offers but is still being a bit overlooked because he doesn’t have prototypical height. Isaac Garcia has had a great senior season at one DE spot, while Francis Haroon mans the other side. You will also see Jack Levier (’16) work his way into the rotation.

The Wolverines have always featured very good LB play, and it is no different this year with Luke Lane (’16) and Russell Addington (’16) really leading the way. Lane is one of the more underrated LB’s in the state, and does a great job flying around the field making plays. Mark Getzendaner (’17) rounds out a very good group of LB’s that doesn’t get the credit they deserve, as they don’t have the household names we know from past years.

Safety Isaiah Gilchrist (’16) is committed to the University of Washington, and is every bit the playmaker you would expect. He is one of the state’s fastest athletes and does not shy away from contact. Benaiah Ellington (’16) has had a fantastic season and is every bit the lockdown corner you would expect. Ellington has tremendous speed and all-around athleticism, and is a threat to take pass back to the house for the score.

Starting opposite of Ellington is second team All-Kingco member Miles Carlson (’16). Safety Mike Moran (’17) was an honorable mention this season and doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves. You will also see Tyren Sams (’16) work his way onto the field with his speed and playmaking ability.

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