By RayJaun Stelly, The Seattle Medium
The Eastside Catholic Crusaders, who are still undefeated in Washington state, looked to continue their postseason run against Mt. Spokane Wildcats in the quarterfinals of the WIAA 3A football playoffs. The Wildcats came into the Saturday afternoon contest 8-2 and had every intention of ending Eastside Catholic’s dominance.
Mt. Spokane displayed resilience starting off the game, Crusaders’ high energy offense ranks best in Washington and the Wildcats put a halt to that statistic only allowing three points to start the contest.
Following Eastside Catholic’s field goal, Mt. Spokane marched down field and found themselves scoring the games’ first touchdown by way of a four-yard run by Blake Spear to take a 7-3 lead.
The Crusaders would respond immediately with back-to-back touchdowns, as quarterback Brady Mckelheer threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chris Taylor, and the following series in their wildcat formation Dallas Daley ran for a touchdown.
But Eastside Catholic’s the high-powered offense didn’t stop just there, Mckelheer ran a screen play that resulted in a 25-yard touchdown pass to Daley.
Now with a 24-7 lead, and all the momentum flowing in favor of the Crusaders, Eastside Catholic stepped up their defense pressure.
Crusader defensive back Tyson Weaver had an interception, and defensive lineman AJ Tanupo’s sack fueled their energy to win at the line of scrimmage.
Appearing as if the game was almost out of reach, Mt. Spokane shocked the stadium before halftime, as Wildcat strong safety Bradley Runge scored on a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown to cut the Crusader lead to 10, at 24-14 at the half.
In the second half, the offensive momentum by Eastside Catholic continued to thrive. Locating his favorite target, Mckelheer found Daley for his third touchdown on a 69-yard pass to start the second half.
Daley’s reception was the games’ final offensive touchdown, as the Crusaders didn’t allow a single point as they shut out Mt. Spokane in the second half. From their special teams unit, to the defensive line, and lastly to the secondary Eastside Catholic didn’t give Mt. Spokane any breathing room.
The special teams unit recovered the ball on a kickoff, the defensive line harassed the quarterback and AJ Tanupo got his second sack of the game. What ultimately sealed the game was Tyson Weaver scoring on a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown, as the Crusaders secured a spot in the semifinals with a 38-14 win over Mt. Spokane.
Eastside Catholic will now face Kennewick with hopes of securing a spot to win the state championship.
Pictorial Highlights from Eastside Catholic vs Mt. Spokane High School Football Playoff Game