Eagles hope big offseason translates on the field
September 3, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
It’s never a guarantee that offseason success will translate to the gridiron come fall, but as summers go, the Issaquah High School football team had a pretty stellar one.
In June, the Eagles won the University of Washington 7-on-7 passing tournament, defeating Skyline on their way to the top, and finished second in a separate 7-on-7 event.
“It’s really helpful work,” Issaquah coach Chris Bennett said. “You do well in those things when you have good quarterback play and solid receivers.”
The 2013 Eagles possess one of the best receiving corps he’s had, Bennett said, led by Jeff Shipley, speedster Derek Chapman and Tommy Nelson, who received MVP honors at the UW passing tournament.
“The receiving corps can probably go six deep in terms of depth,” he said.
Senior Jack Neary is expected to be the one hurling passes to Issaquah’s arsenal of receivers, behind a retooled offensive line with few returning from last year’s squad.
Shay Dingfelder and Jacob Peterson, who were both all-league performers, will provide solid consistency on the line as they welcome some newcomers, though.
“We’re breaking in a couple of new guys, so there will be a learning curve there,” Bennett said.
Dingfelder said he expects his quarterback Neary to surprise some people with his performance, calling him “the most underrated quarterback” in the league.
While Issaquah is set up for what appears to be a solid passing game, make no mistake, the heart and soul of the team is running back Jack Gellatly, the fourth and final Gellatly to wear the purple and gold.
“Just hand the ball off to No. 5,” Bennett said of the confidence he has in his veteran running back.
Gellatly, a senior, wears No. 5, just as his brother, Grant, now a senior receiver at Cornell University did before him.
“I remember having a conversation with my dad saying, I really want to wear No. 5, but I think most of all, I don’t want to watch one of my teammates wear No. 5,” Gellatly said of choosing the number.
Gellatly, the top running back in the KingCo 4A Conference last year, is the kind of talent that needs to carry the ball 25-30 times a game, Bennett said.
“We need to make sure he gets touches, but he’s the kind of kid where he’d rather touch the ball five times and win than touch it 30 and lose,” he said.
On defense, Bennett said he feels good about his secondary and defensive line, featuring returning all-league performer Andrew Dieken. There are a few questions at linebacker, though, except for returning player Cody Lamarque.
“The linebackers have been a focal point this preseason to try and round out that cast of characters to see who can step up,” Bennett said.
The calling card of this year’s team will be an uptempo style of play, lineman Dingfelder said.
“We’re going to be fast on offense, fast on defense,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be the most conditioned team out there.”
As the season begins, the Eagles are hoping their dedication in the offseason, including high attendance at summer weight-room workouts, will translate to more wins than the five they earned in 2012, senior lineman Peterson said.
“We’re all dedicated to doing what it takes to win a state championship and we have the talent to go with it,” he said.
‘Unless noted, all games are at 7 p.m.
-Sept. 6 at Interlake
-Sept. 13 vs. Mount Si
-Sept. 20 vs. O’Dea
-Sept. 27 vs. Newport
-Oct. 4 at Roosevelt
-Oct. 11 vs. Garfield
-Oct. 18 at Ballard, 5 p.m.
-Oct. 25 vs. Skyline