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Wolves Sports

Eastlake senior is jack-of-all football skills

Posted Thursday, August 31, 2006 by Michael Ko
Sports: Thursday, August 31, 2006

Eastlake senior is jack-of-all football skills

By Michael Ko
Seattle Times staff reporter

SAMMAMISH - The Swiss no longer own the monopoly on the utility knife. The newest innovation in do-it-all gizmos can be found on the football field at Eastlake High School.

Consider the versatility and usefulness of Tanor Johnson, evident in last season's remarkable stat sheet:

Three punt returns for touchdowns, five rushing TDs, two TD passes after an injury to the starting quarterback, a TD catch, season-long punting duties, 22 extra-point kicks and 2 for good measure 2 six field goals, including three from 41 yards or more.

And none of it even reflects Johnson's stellar play on defense, where he was an All-KingCo 4A cornerback. He was also the first-team kicker and return specialist.

Now a senior quarterback and safety, Johnson will showcase his big-play skills at 8 p.m. Saturday in the fourth Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field, in the marquee night game against pass-happy Hawaii power Punahou of Honolulu.

"Tanor's an exceptional player. We've designed our offense around the fact that we want the ball to be in his hands," said Eastlake coach Gene Dales. "He's very elusive. He's got a chance to break it on any given play."

Johnson won't be the only prep star playing Saturday.

The fourth game features senior quarterback Jason Munns of Southridge (Kennewick), a 6-foot-5 BYU commit in the mold of previous Eastern Washington greats Drew Bledsoe and Mark Rypien.

Southridge faces Prosser, led by senior quarterback Kellen Moore, who broke state prep passing records last season with 317 completions, 4,600 yards and 66 touchdowns. Prosser is ranked No. 1 in Class 2A, Southridge No. 3 in 3A.

In the third game, Kellen Kiilsgaard quarterbacks Auburn, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, against Moses Lake. Kiilsgaard has scholarship offers from eight Pac-10 schools.

The 6-foot, 180-pound Johnson, being recruited by Princeton, is the key for Eastlake of Sammamish, ranked No. 3 in Class 4A by The Seattle Times. He spent most of the offseason trying to evolve from playmaker to team leader and heady, strong-armed quarterback.

His quiet but competitive personality, scoring mentality and quickness 2 he is also Eastlake's starting point guard during basketball season 2 should be evident everywhere on the field. Besides playing quarterback and safety, he will continue to kick, punt and return.

"It's my senior season and I want the opportunity to be out there doing everything," Johnson said.

The Wolves' season isn't just Johnson's load to carry. Seniors Jared Fagan and Dane Steel are two other returning All-KingCo selections, at linebacker and running back, respectively.

And Alex Tank, Andy Peterson, Kurt Thirtyacre and Lucas Hufford help form that oh-so-desired senior-class nucleus, bonded by the chemistry of friendship and years of growing up and playing football together. Junior Drew Schaefer is an all-conference center.

The Punahou Buff and Blue of Honolulu is the top-ranked big school on the islands. Their spread offense is led by Brett Kan, a Division-I college recruit and three-year starter, and all-state receiver Miah Ostrowski.

Figuring out how to stop Punahou's offense will be in large part the responsibility of Eastlake defensive coordinator Don Bartel, a former assistant at Washington State whom Dales said has done a tremendous coaching job.

"Obviously, a lot of guys on the team see [the playoffs] as a possibility," Johnson said. "We have high goals for ourselves. We want to start off the season good against Punahou."

Michael Ko: 206-515-5653 or mko@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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