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Olympia looks to contain wide-open Eastlake attack

Posted Friday, November 10, 2006 by Brian McLean

Published November 10, 2006

Olympia looks to contain wide-open Eastlake attack

by Brian McLean for The Olympian

The Olympia Bears got a glimpse of a wide-open offense late this season, but nothing like they're going to see tonight at Ingersoll Stadium.

Olympia (9-1) opens the Class 4A state football tournament at 7:30 p.m. against the Eastlake Wolves (8-2), who began the season ranked No. 1 in the state and use the shotgun formation to spread the field.

The Bears, who have one of the best defenses statewide, will be challenged.

"They're a very good football team and they're pretty balanced between the run and pass, so it's pretty hard to get some keys on what they're doing," Olympia coach Bill Beattie said.

History is on Olympia's side. The Bears have advanced to the state tournament in four of the past six years, and they've advanced to the quarterfinals in each of the previous three trips. The Bears went all the way to the semifinals in 2003 before falling to Ballard.

Eastlake is a bit different than the Mount Tahoma team that came out throwing with an empty backfield in the second half of Olympia's 43-14 blowout of the Thunderbirds.

"We're down to 16 teams and every one of them has a good football program," Beattie said. "It's programs like these that kind of get into these situations. They have good discipline and they're fundamentally pretty sound. That's really what separates the playoff teams from the non-playoff teams."

One of Olympia's main focuses will be Eastlake's Tanor Johnson, a quarterback last season who moves around from wingback to wide receiver and plays safety on defense. The Wolves also feature 6-foot-3 quarterback Ryan Robertson, who has thrown for more than 2,000 yards this season, and 6-5 receiver Justin Helwege.

Olympia's defense has been solid, surrendering only 8.9 points per game with two shutouts. The most points the Bears allowed in any game was 21 2 and that came last week in a 28-21 overtime win against Lake Washington in the preliminary round.

Eastlake also plays tough defense, starting with a five-man front.

"They've got a good front line and they've got pretty good size," Beattie said. "Their secondary is obviously pretty solid because they're used to going against the pass all the time in practice."

The Wolves, who give up just 11.3 points per game, finished second in the Kingco Conference standings behind Bothell. Lake Washington is the teams' only common opponent, and the Wolves scored a 48-21 win at Kirkland on Oct. 6.

The Bears will be without senior defensive back Corey Ashline, who broke his hand two weeks ago against Gig Harbor and had season-ending surgery this week. Beattie called him the best player in the defensive secondary.

Olympia will also be without wide receiver Brent Williams, and right tackle Viet Ha won't start but could play with a sore knee. Senior Austin Briggs, at 6-4 and 260 pounds, again will start in Ha's place.

"We'll move some guys around," Beattie said. "We're fortunate that we have a lot of kids who play those positions all year long. It's not as if we have to take the next-best athlete and try to teach him how to play a different position in two or three days."

The Bears received good news this week when running back Casey Sherwood, who broke his collarbone earlier this season, was medically cleared to play. Beattie said his snaps could be limited, depending on how he's feeling.

"A lot of it could come down to the defensive line and if we can get pressure on them," Beattie said. "It's a huge advantage to play at home. The last (Saturday) night game, it was so loud on the field. It was incredible."

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