Eastside Catholic made a deep run in last season’s 3A state tournament. In fact, the Crusaders weren’t upended until the title game, when five-time defending state champion Bellevue beat them 35-3. On Saturday, Brandon Wellington’s 75-yard touchdown catch with 37 seconds left gave Eastside Catholic a dramatic 42-35 win over Marysville-Pilchuck and a berth in the quarterfinals.
Head coach Jeremy Thielbahr had said Friday that the Crusaders structure their practices and offseason in order to peak during the playoffs. That obviously worked well last year, and has Eastside Catholic past the first round of the state tournament this season.
The experience gained from last season’s run to the title game has been invaluable. Eastside Catholic lost 24 seniors from a year ago and plays 10 freshmen or sophomores. The returning upperclassmen are better prepared to lead, Thielbahr said.
“The run from last year gave us some great confidence in our seniors,” Thielbahr said. “Expectations have risen, we expect to make the state championship run. Our kids believe we play our best football in the playoffs.”
Eastside Catholic will host Meadowdale on Nov. 22 or 23 (at Memorial Stadium according to The Herald).