Issaquah uses road-warrior mentality to hold off Kentwood
November 19, 2008
By Christopher Huber
Other than fans in the home grandstands and the pep band cheering on the team, Issaquah’s Nov. 15 match-up against Kentwood felt more like an away game. Not just because Issaquah has played better on the road — the Eagles are undefeated in away games — but because the team actually pretended they were on the road.
When the team found out it was to host the Conquerors, of Kentwood, the coaches decided to rent two school buses and drive the team to Snoqualmie Falls and back.
“The theory was that the bus ride calmed us down and let us focus in, so that’s what we used,” said junior running back Grant Gellatly.
Despite allowing a late Kentwood comeback, the Issaquah Eagles survived the first-round state playoff contest 31-28.
Issaquah, ranked 10th in Class 4A, moves on to the quarterfinals this week against Bothell, which it beat 24-13 in week one.
Gellatly was easily the key factor in the Nov. 15 win. He more than doubled his average per-game rushing yardage, compiling 313, and scored three touchdowns.
Gellatly got the home crowd riled up immediately when he broke through the Kentwood secondary for a 68-yard touchdown on Issaquah’s first drive. A missed kick left it at 6-0.
The Conquerors battled back with the run game, driving 70 yards and 60 yards for touchdowns on two consecutive possessions. Mike Roy caught a 38-yard pass from Kentwood’s Luke Angevine for the second score.
Eagles’ quarterback Joey Bradley helped balance the offensive attack in the first half, completing eight of 10 passes for 58 yards.
The Eagles trailed 14-6 after one, but that didn’t stop the offense from striking back after a Kyle Hansen interception. Despite the Kentwood defense bringing constant pressure, Issaquah converted two third downs and relied on big runs from Gellatly and teammate Justin Talley. Talley scored and Ross Zuhl caught a Bradley pass in the end zone for the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 14.
Near the end of the second, the Eagles took the ball at their own 24-yard line and again gave the ball to Gellatly, who busted loose deep in Conqueror territory. That set up his second touchdown of the night and gave Issaquah the 21-14 lead into the half.
“I told them that they could score fast, and they did,” Kentwood head coach Rex Norris said about warning his team of Issaquah’s fast-acting offense.
Kentwood’s Joseph Banks managed 70 yards on seven carries in the first half, but didn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter, when it was too little, too late.
Issaquah had controlled the clock throughout the second half and the Eagle run game was just too elusive for the Conqueror defense. Gellatly barreled through for one more score in the third to increase the lead to 28-14. And Gavin Schumacher kicked a 28-yard field goal to put it out of touch.
“It felt like we kind of dominated the game, and then you look up there and it’s a 3-point win,” Issaquah head coach Chris Bennett said. “That’s what happens when you fumble the ball three times and give up big strikes on defense. That’s the only way we can get in trouble.”
Kentwood capitalized on a few Eagle penalties and turnovers, and managed to bring the score within three. All the Eagles had to do was hand it to Gellatly to finish securing the conquest.
As the clock wound down, the Issaquah student section declared victory, chanting, “Whose house? Our house.”
Issaquah gets a rematch against Bothell at 7 p.m. Nov. 22 at Issaquah High Stadium.
“When you get this far, there’s no easy games, but we would welcome them,” Bennett said of Bothell.
Reach Reporter Christopher Huber at 392-6434, ext. 242, or at email@example.com.