Washington’s Top 50 high school football teams: Defensive-minded No. 20 Eastside Catholic replaces a lot, but not championship mentality

SBLive is previewing the Top 50 high school teams in Washington ahead of the fall 2021 season. Here’s an inside look at the Eastside Catholic.Crusaders of the 3A Metro League – the No. 20 team in our countdown.

SPRING 2021 IN REVIEW

4-3 in 3A Metro League Mountain (second place); finished fourth in Metro League playoff.

COACH’S RESUMÉ

  • Dominic Daste, third season.
  • Overall record: 16-5.
  • Coordinators (base scheme): Offense – Michael Bumpus (one-back, spread). Defense – Marcus Ungaro (odd front).

NOTABLE DEPARTURES

WR Tavarus George

QB Kobe Muasau

OL Will Reed

DL John Taumoepeau

DB Joe Taylor

DL/TE JT Tuimoloau

RETURNING STARTERS

Offense – 4. Defense – 6.

TOP PLAYERS

WR/LB Dallas Daley, 6-2, 215, sr.

RB Chase Hamdan, 5-11, 180, sr.

FB/TE/DL Gabe Hoffman, 6-6, 235, jr.

LB David Lene, 6-0, 215, soph.

QB Brady McKelheer, 6-0, 170, jr.

LB Dishawn “Hunter” Misa, 6-3, 220, sr.

DB/RB Drew Sanidad, 5-9, 160, sr.

OL/DL Peter Taoipu, 6-6, 345, sr.

RB Masen Uribe, 5-10, 180, jr.

RB/DB Nico Ursino, 5-10, 180, sr.

THREE TO SEE

Dallas Daley, wide receiver/linebacker

Don’t let his quiet demeanor fool you – the Crusaders will look to the physically-imposing receiver to be a consistent playmaker on offense. and shore up one of the state’s stronger linebacking corps.

David Lene, inside linebacker

Coaches love him for his deep understanding of defensive schemes and ability to pick up concepts quickly, which he displayed as a ninth grader – as well as an innate ability to deliver a boom. 

Dishawn Misa, inside linebacker

Four-star prospect (No. 5 in state, according to 247Sports.com), and a three-year starter at linebacker enters the season healthy after rehabbing from an injury that sidelined him in Week 4 of the spring season.

FALL SEASON OUTLOOK

Eastside Catholic coach Dominic Daste overheard bits and pieces of chatter throughout the summer that may not have been intended to reach his ears. But the messages sure grabbed his attention.

“I can hear everyone talk about how bad Eastside Catholic is and I’m like, ‘This is great, it’s fantastic,’ ” Daste said. 

Suffice to say, the two-time defending 3A champion Crusaders, who were nationally ranked two years ago, and just graduated the country’s top prospect (JT Tuimoloau), would like you to know they haven’t gone anywhere. 

“It’s a drive internally for us,” Daste said. “I truly find it funny. I think people look at a snapshot of things and cast judgement.”

Still, there is a lot to replace – and plenty of questions loom: How will the Crusaders bounce back from an underwhelming spring? And how does a program, with the resources and institutional buy-in to be in the national picture, stay that way?

Eastside Catholic has stepped past an era that included a 2019 team with more than a handful of NCAA Division I players, and then graduate Tuimoloau, who many saw as the top 2021 recruit in the country. 

So what’s left? 

“I think our defense might be more talented than we’ve been,” Daste said. “We made not have big names, but we’ve gotten deeper.”

The return of 6-6, 345-pound first team all-Metro League defensive tackle Peter Taoipu, as well as Gabe Hoffman a rush end, bodes well for a defensive line that will rotate players with experience.

Though Eastside Catholic will be led by its defense, it also shows promise offensively. 

Junior quarterback Brady McKelheer replaces two-year starter Kobe Muasau (now at Navy), and has a trio of returners in the backfield behind him in Drew Sanidad, Masen Uribe and Nico Ursino.

The addition of former Monroe High School coach and Washington State University wide receiver Michael Bumpus as the new offensive coordinator, replacing all-time Washington prep passing great Drew Miller, could also serve as a boost.

FALL 2021 SCHEDULE

  • Sept. 3 vs. Kennnedy Catholic
  • Sept. 10 at. Valor Christian (Colo.)
  • Sept. 24. vs. Seattle Prep
  • Oct. 1 at Garfield
  • Oct. 8 at O’Dea
  • Oct. 15 vs. Rainier Beach
  • Oct. 22. vs. Ballard

(Featured photo by Vince Miller)

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