The Eastside Catholic Crusaders defeated the Stanwood Spartans 41-6 in their first game of the 2021 WIAA 3A state football playoffs on Friday night.
The stands were filled with hundreds of people as they stood in the dry yet chilly weather. The Crusaders entered the field with an extra fire in their bellies, ready for the challenge. Just two minutes into the first quarter, Eastside Catholic wide receiver Dallas Daley posted their opening touchdown against the Spartans.
Shaken, the Spartans focused on their defense for the rest of the quarter. Sadly, this meant they were unable to find the end zone and the quarter ended 7-0, Crusaders.
The second quarter opened in a similar fashion, with the Crusaders adding another 6 to the board as Dallas Daley rushed for a 10-yard touchdown, bulldozing through the Spartan defensive line in the first minute of the quarter.
After a quick three-and-out, Stanwood was forced to punt. The high hanging kick provided an unexpected benefit for the Crusaders as their offensive line ran down field and provided the necessary holes for punt receiver Drew Sanidad to wind his way down field for another touchdown on a 55-yard run to the end zone. Narrowly escaping the grasp of a series of Spartan defenders, the explosive run by Sanidad brought the Crusader lead to 21-0.
The Spartans felt the pressure as the Crusaders continued their onslaught. Maintaining their composure, the Spartans were finally able to capitalize on a seldom-made Crusader mistake — a fumble — with a defender in the right place at the right time. Canyon Bumgarner picked up the ball and ran down field for 60 yards to finally put Stanwood on the board 21-6, their only touchdown of the night.
Not to be outdone, the Crusaders replied in quick succession with a series of plays putting them in the Spartan red zone. Quarterback Brady Mckelheer found the hole and made an 8-yard rushing touchdown as Eastside Catholic managed to completely flank the Stanwood tacklers. The 28-6 lopsided halftime score reflected the unrelenting Crusader momentum.
Opening the second half, Stanwood kicked off to Eastside Catholic, whose players wasted no time pushing their way down field into the Spartan red zone. After a quick series of downs, running back Chase Hamdan forced his way into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, further strengthening the Crusader lead, 34-6.
With pressure mounting on the Spartans, mistakes were inevitable. A fumble further frustrated their attempt to make a comeback as Crusaders running back David Lene took advantage for a pick-6 and sprinted the 60-yards down field for another touchdown — the cherry on top.
With both teams clearly exhausted, no point gains were made in the fourth quarter despite a series of back-and-forth possessions, allowing the Crusaders to bring home the 41-6 win and set up another playoff game next week.
Eastside Catholic will meet Mt. Spokane on Saturday, Nov. 20 for the next game in their playoff bracket. The game will be played at Memorial Stadium in Seattle at 1:00 p.m.