Eastlake High graduated 22 starters from last year’s team, which makes for easy math in figuring how many starters are back for the 2012 season.
“That would be zero,” Eastlake coach Gene Dales said.
Dales is in the unique position of breaking in fresh faces all across the board, from quarterback to receiver, from defensive tackle to corner back. Dales cites two players with decent playing time under their belts – receiver-safeties Cam Nelson and D.J. Thornton – and that’s about it.
Even still, the KingCo coaches picked Eastlake to finish second, along with Woodinville, in the Crest Division.
“It’s like putting a puzzle together except most guys get the border done first and then put the pieces in,” Dales said. “We’ve got nothing. We have to put all the pieces together at one time.”
At quarterback, Eastlake will rotate between Grant senior Beahm and sophomore Richard “Blue” Thomas, the son of the former UW standout of the same name.
“He’s a pretty electric kid with a lot of athletic ability and a strong arm,” Dales said. “We think he’s going to turn into a fine quarterback before it’s all said and done.”
Yet Beahm will get the start in game one since he Thomas is just a sophomore and Beahm is a team captain. They will compete throughout the year until one separates from the other.
The pair will be joined in the backfield by Drew Lewis, a junior running back and the younger brother of departed star Ryan Lewis, now at Pitt. “He can run just like Ryan,” Dales said. “We think he’s going to be a special kid as a junior here.”
So much of this year, especially early, will be about discovery for Eastlake: Who can handle playing on Friday nights best? Who will step up to replace accomplished starters? What will the Wolves even be about?
Dales said that he will play plenty of players early in the season until he finds out who he can count on.
“With so many people being fresh, the leadership becomes a little bit of an issue as far as who’s going to be a vocal leader, who’s going to be an effort leader,” he said. “It’s mostly getting an identity about what we’re going to be about and what we’re going to find important.”
Players to watch:
WR/S Cam Nelson, 6-1, 180
WR/ S D.J. Thornton, 6-2, 190
LB/FB Carson Iraola, 5-10, 205
QB Grant Beahm, 5-10, 175
RB/S Drew Lewis, 6-2, 205
Game to watch:
Sept. 7 vs. Eastside Catholic. The Wolves will clash with their rival for an early test.
What will Eastlake’s identity be by the end of the season?