The Eastside Catholic football team won the 3A state championship Friday, but the more surprising news may be who lost.
The Crusaders’ 35-13 victory in the Tacoma Dome came against nationally ranked Bellevue, and they stopped the Wolverines’ national-high and state-record run of 67 consecutive wins and six consecutive state championships — the past two each coming against Eastside Catholic.
“It was a belief that they can be beaten, because everyone can be beaten,” said junior Brandon Wellington, a University of Washington commit who led the Crusaders with 110 rushing yards and three touchdowns. “Through the power of God that he gave us, we came out on top.”
Bellevue (13-1) started with business as usual, taking a 7-0 lead on its first possession, and answering immediately when Eastside pulled even.
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But the final 28 points were scored by the Crusaders (13-1).
The avalanche was reflected across the stat sheet. Eastside Catholic had 24 first downs to Bellevue’s four. It outrushed Bellevue 226-158 and outpassed the Wolverines 188-0, as the Wolverines were 0-for-3 through the air.
The Crusaders piled 414 total yards against a team that had been allowing just 177 yards per game.
“It was an incredible effort,” said Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr, a former running back and special teams star for Washington State. “That’s just such a good ballclub, Bellevue. My hat’s off to them. What we asked of our kids is compete every down as hard as you possibly can, because that’s what Bellevue does, and we’ve got to match that. And you know what? We did.”
The Crusaders’ path to the championship took them past Meadowdale (42-14), Lincoln (28-21) and Mount Spokane (42-24) before they got their shot at stopping the Bellevue dynasty in the state championship for the third consecutive year.
“The best team won,” Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said. “They beat us in every phase of the game. They controlled the ball, which hasn’t happened to us all year.”
It was Bellevue’s first loss in a championship game after 11 victories in 11 previous appearances, and it was their first loss of any kind since Sept. 11, 2010, against Skyline (28-21).
“It’s been a while, yeah,” Goncharoff said. “But you know it’s going to happen at some point. It’s going to happen to everybody. This game will humble you at some point. It humbled us tonight.”