In a back-and-forth contest, Steilacoom rose above Eatonville in the second half to secure a 34-28 victory on Friday night.
After trailing 14-6 after the first quarter, the Sentinels fought back to outscore the visitors 28-14 the rest of the way, including a second-half shutout.
“They did a good job,” Steilacoom head coach Rich Lane said of the Cruisers. “Our defense, once they figured out what they were doing, shut them down in the second half. Huge. All of the credit goes to them and a great halftime adjustment by John Morehead to make that happen. We just came out and shut them out. That was huge. How we played defense was the most important thing.”
Lane said it was all about adjusting for what Eatonville had shown in previous years.
“Well, we knew they ran some wing-T and that was what they’d done in the past,” Lane said. “But they’ve been spread all year, so we prepared for the spread and they kind of had some things dialed in. They just weren’t hitting the line correctly. Once we got that straightened out on the whiteboard and they saw it, we were able to go in and take care of what we wanted to do.”
On the offensive side of the ball, a balanced Steilacoom attack proved valuable as the two-headed Anthony monster of Anthony Garcia and Anthony Leiato powered the run game and JJ Lemming led the passing game, throwing three scoring passes, including the eventual game-winner in the third quarter.
Garcia, the change-of-pace back of the two, was slippery all night, breaking tackle after tackle with his elusiveness. The senior found the end zone in the second quarter on a water bug type of run, going 48 yards and leaving Eatonville defenders baffled.
Leiato, the big, bruising back, found his success in the red zone, gaining valuable yards after contact and scoring on a 11-yard rush before halftime.
“Our offensive line is starting to figure some things out,” Lane said. “While they’re never the biggest guys on the field, they’re always the toughest. They went in and pushed those guys around tonight, and Garcia gets in there, and he is a hell of a running back, and Leiato gets in there, and he’s a heck of a running back, too. We’re blessed with a lot of talent back there.”
Eatonville, which scored 28 first-half points, struggled in the second half as senior quarterback Tristan Graf, who threw two scoring passes, missed much of it due to an injury, leaving Tristan Schoepf to take over.
Graf had given Eatonville several big plays and two touchdowns, but after the quarterback change Eatonville struggled to move the ball. Graf returned for the Cruisers’ last possession.
S – JJ Lemming pass to Marques Hampton (Alex O’Brien kick no good).
E – Derek Brown 19 yard rush (Brendon Morton kick).
E – Tristan Graf 46 yard pass to Ryan Antonson (Morton kick).
S – Lemming 24-yard pass to Isaiah Hampton (O’Brien kick).
S – Anthony Garcia 48-yard rush (O’Brien kick).
E – Graf 63-yard pass to Zarak Scruggs (Morton kick).
S – Anthony Leiato 11-yard rush (O’Brien kick).
E – Ray Springer 5-yard rush (Morton kick).
S – Lemming 5-yard pass to Jenard Johnson (O’Brien kick).