Football teams ready for long playoff drive

September 1, 2009

By Bob Taylor

Trey Wheeler, Liberty quarterback, runs for a first down against Ballard in 2008. By Greg Farrar

Trey Wheeler, Liberty quarterback, runs for a first down against Ballard in 2008. By Greg Farrar

A year ago, all three Issaquah School District high school football teams opened the season with victories. It was just a sign of good things to come for Liberty, Issaquah and Skyline.

All three eventually qualified for state playoffs, a rare accomplishment for any school district in the state.

Skyline ended up winning the 4A state title, Issaquah took second and Liberty reached the 3A quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion Bellevue.

All three teams open the season this week and the expectations haven’t changed — all are aiming for the playoffs again.

Liberty, which took second in the 3A/2A KingCo Conference last fall, begins its season at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 at home against Ballard, a 4A KingCo team. The Patriots defeated Ballard 43-7 last season. It was the debut for Liberty quarterback Trey Wheeler, who passed for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Wheeler later earned all-league honors as a quarterback and punter, and also all-state honors as a punter.

The Patriots also see the return of Coleton Langdon, who earned all-league, first-team honors last season as an offensive lineman; Dan Eck, an all-league, second-team defensive lineman; Chandler Jenkins, a running back and defensive back; and lineman Alex Kaser. Jenkins and Kaser earned honorable mention recognition last season.
Ballard went 1-8 last season under first-year coach John Bowers. The Beavers’ lone victory came late in the season against Garfield (30-7). Ballard struggled on offense, ranking last in the 4A KingCo.

Skyline and Issaquah open their seasons Sept. 5 in the Emerald City Kickoff at Qwest Field. Skyline, 14-0 last season, plays Jesuit, of Portland, Ore., at 5:30 p.m. Issaquah, 11-3 last season, tangles with 4A KingCo foe Bothell at 8 p.m.

Skyline, for the second straight year, opens against an Oregon power. The Spartans defeated Sheldon 21-0 last year.

The Spartans features two of the state’s top playmakers  in quarterback Jake Heaps and wide receiver Kasen Williams, along with linebacker Anthony DeMatteo and lineman Jase Butorac. The Spartans are 28-0 the past two seasons.

In Jesuit, the Spartans meet one of Oregon’s traditional powers. The Crusaders, knocked out in the state playoffs last season by Lake Oswego, are shooting for another championship. Jesuit last won a state title in 2006.

Jesuit’s team includes Keanon Lowe, who has made a verbal commitment to the University of Washington. Lowe is regarded as the premier playmaker in Oregon. He rushed for 1,287 all-purpose yards as a junior and scored 15 touchdowns. Other key players include NCAA Division I prospects Taylor Martinek, a linebacker, and Jacob Wark, a tight end. Senior running back Dylan Jackson will be the featured runner.

Three years ago, Jesuit was regarded as having the top high school sports program in the nation.

Issaquah and Bothell met twice last season with the Eagles winning both games. The Eagles defeated Bothell 24-13 in last season’s opener. Grant Gellatly rushed for 125 yards and scored three touchdowns in the game, signs of things to come as the Issaquah back later led the league in scoring.

The Eagles later defeated Bothell 31-28 in the 4A state quarterfinals when Gavin Schumaker kicked a 36-yard field goal.

Bothell, which won the KingCo Crown Division title last season, later lost to Skyline, the Crest Division champion, 16-12 in the league title game. The Cougars have reached the state playoffs nine straight years, twice coming up second in the title game.

Among the Cougars top returning players are quarterback Mitchell Muller, who threw for 916 yards and 11 touchdowns last fall; tight end Michael Hartvigson, who earned second-team, all-KingCo honors; defensive lineman Evan Hudson, who earned second-team, all-KingCo honors; and running back Colby Burk.

Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or bobtaylor@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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