Eastlake football coach Don Bartel has interesting insight into the Class 4A title game, which will be played Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Tacoma Dome between Bothell and Chiawana. Bothell is Eastlake’s KingCo foe, so there’s plenty of familiarity there. Bartel is also good friends with much of the Chiawana coaching staff.
Bartel, whose team lost to Bothell 41-19 in the opener, said he isn’t surprised at all that the Cougars are in the state title game. Surprised about some of the matchups, yes — mainly with Bellarmine Prep after the Lions upset Camas — but not the run to the title game.
Here are some thoughts from Bartel on both teams and the title game:
On Bothell right now: “I think they’re just clicking on all cylinders. I mean, you watch how they play, they just continue to feed off of the previous week’s excitement and victory, and what they’re able to accomplish, even without Sam. We kind of all knew that. You can have a Sam McPherson [editor’s note: McPherson is out for the playoffs with a torn ACL] who can run for 35 yards a carry at any given time, but you also don’t need that. That’s an added thing. It’s really nice to have a guy that can do that because it’s special. But they have a great quarterback and good receiving corps, but they’re so solid up front. It’s like, put a kid that holds onto the rock. He can run for four, five a clip. Give him time and he’s serviceable, you just don’t have to be addicted to the big play. I think they know that and adjusted. I think that’s right in [coach Tom Bainter’s] wheelhouse.
On adjusting without McPherson: “I think that they stayed consistent. This kid gets better and better, obviously he’s running better and better every week. You’ve got guys that are getting over to what the old guy used to do, getting used to the new guy and then realizing that our drives will take a couple more plays, but we’re still running the same things, we’re still doing it the same way and staying true to their identity of who they’ve always been, of being aggressive on the ground as much as they ever will be in the air.”
On Chiawana running back Austin Urlacher: “All I know right now is he, along with that front — they’re really strong up front — has sort of put it on their shoulders that they’re going to get it done. I think it’s really impressive that you can go into a game and everybody in the world knows that you’re going to run the ball and he still has 2,700, 2,800 yards or something like that. It’s insane … he is a beast. And the kids they have up front. That’s high school football. If you can form that group, they’re the most important group on the field.”
On playing for a greater purpose: “I think the biggest thing would be, they’re playing for a greater purpose right now. It’s really nice to see a team whose purpose is to rally together for one person, and that sacrificial piece. What’s the ultimate thing in football, right? You sacrifice yourself for the greater good.”
[Editor’s note: Coach Steve Graff’s son, Mac, a junior on the team, was severely injured during a hunting accident earlier this season.]
Bartel’s pick: Bartel had a tough time making a pick. I let him off the hook, but he did point to one matchup that could decide the game:
“Depending on how they can cover Dayzell [Wilson],” Bartel said of Bothell’s standout receiver.
So there you have it. Look for that matchup on the outside to be a deciding factor.