All the hype and expectations make a lot more sense when you see Jacob Eason in person.
The Lake Stevens High School senior looked every bit of the 6-foot-6, 220 pound he’s listed on the roster, and he only needed what looked like a flick of his wrist to throw a 42-yard touchdown in the second quarter and then a 72-yarder in the fourth in the third-ranked Vikings’ 49-14 win against fourth-ranked Graham-Kapowsin in the Class 4A state quarterfinals Saturday at Art Crate Field in Spanaway.
“Some of those plays he made were incredible,” said G-K coach Eric Kurle following the Eagles’ first loss of the season. “He was like an NFL, athletic quarterback buying time and making throws. And he can make all of the throws.”
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Eason recently signed a financial aid agreement with the University of Georgia, ate breakfast with Georgia coach Mark Richt in Snohomish this week (Eason said it was Richt’s first trip by himself to Washington), and is a top-10 recruit in the nation according to most major scouting services. He was 17 for 27 passing for 262 yards and four touchdowns Saturday.
“(G-K) has some big guys up front. It was a battle up front in the trenches,” Eason said. “And they had some good defensive players. But we just executed the plays and our defense made some plays and allowed our offense to get the ball back.
“Our dream is getting those rings, holding up that trophy in the (Tacoma) Dome and being able to cry happy tears, and we got one more game to get to that moment.”
Our dream is getting those rings, holding up that trophy in the (Tacoma) Dome and being able to cry happy tears, and we got one more game to get to that moment.
Lake Stevens quarterback Jacob Eason
It certainly didn’t help Graham-Kapowsin that it turned the ball over five times (four inside the Lake Stevens 30) and had at least three dropped passes that could have led to touchdowns.
Lake Stevens (12-0) advances to the state semifinals for the fifth time in school history and first since 2011 to face No. 6 Skyline, which handed top-ranked Camas its first loss of the season Saturday.
Graham-Kapowsin (11-1) falls a game short of reaching the state semifinals for the second consecutive year, despite Eian Olmos’ seven catches for 201 yards and a touchdown.
And it wasn’t just Eason for Lake Stevens. Running back Andrew Grimes ran 21 times for 280 yards and three touchdowns.
“We knew (Grimes) was good, but we were just hoping they were going to want to throw the ball more,” Kurle said. “And they did both, so it really didn’t matter.”
Grimes took a direct snap on the Vikings’ first drive and ran it 53 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Graham-Kapowsin answered with an eight-play, 77-yard drive to tie it at 7-7. But Lake Stevens responded with 42 unanswered points, including another Grimes TD — for 44 yards on Lake Stevens’ first drive of the third quarter — on that same direct-snap play it ran its opening drive.
On if he knew the play would work, Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri laughed.
“We purposefully haven’t run that play for two weeks,” Tri said. “I could not wait to run that play. It was a perfect defense for what we were doing because it’s a 4-1 (only one middle linebacker). We got both tackles going to him, we’re trapping up front — it hit them so fast.”
And when Grimes wasn’t gashing the defense, Eason was throwing darts past the Graham-Kapowsin secondary.
“I think he’s the best quarterback I’ve seen in 20 years of high school football,” Tri said. “He’s good. He’s the real deal. He’s got good feet, he’s got good presence in the pocket, he sees the field, he doesn’t make mistakes. It’s effortless.
“He’s probably going to play on Sundays if he continues to progress the way he is progressing now. I see no reason why he can’t continue to have that success at the next two levels.”
(Jacob Eason is) probably going to play on Sundays if he continues to progress the way he is progressing now. I see no reason why he can’t continue to have that success at the next two levels.
Lake Stevens coach Tom Tri
But Tri was also impressed with his own team’s “Trench Crew” — the moniker G-K’s stellar offensive line goes by.
“Honestly, we won the battle up front,” Tri said. “Our O-line beat their O-line and our D-line didn’t let their O-line onto our linebackers and our linebackers stopped the run. That was the difference in the game.”
Kurle spoke to his team afterward about what it will take for G-K to reach Lake Stevens’ level next year. Offensive lineman Foster Sarell, a top-10 2017 recruit in the nation, will be back for his senior year, and quarterback Dylan Morris will be a sophomore.
“That was the best football team we’ve faced,” Kurle said. “Skyline is a good team, too (which G-K beat 38-34 on Oct. 8), but they are all around the best team we’ve faced and we didn’t execute when we needed to early.”