No. 6 Eastside Catholic defense fires on all cylinders in 24-14 win over Metro League rival No. 2 O’Dea: 4 observations

It was clear that the size of the problem that the second-ranked O’Dea football team presented was monumental.

But not immovable.

Sixth-ranked Eastside Catholic proved the aggressors and that the size of the fight in the dog would be the deciding factor.

The Crusaders hit first and hit often, especially in winning the battle in the trenches, to take Round 1 of this season 24-14 over No. 2 O’Dea, riding its defense to victory in Friday night’s clash of Metro League titans at West Seattle Stadium.

Eastside Catholic (5-1 overall, 3-0 Metro) wasn’t fazed by the size of the Irish, forcing eight turnovers and scoring on a pair of scoop-and-score plays on defense.

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“Our defensive guys understand concepts,” Crusaders coach Dominic Daste said. “They are playing team defense. They understand that their job might not necessarily get them to the ball, but it’s going to help my buddy get to the ball and they’ll hopefully make a play.

“Those scoop-and-scores are our best offense right now.”

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The Crusaders have won the last two 3A state titles that were contested in 2018 and 2019. There were no state championship games in 2020 as COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the season to spring of 2021 with no playoffs.

Eastside Catholic beat O’Dea in both of those title games, 31-13 in 2018 and 20-12 in 2019.

So, this win could go a long way toward another crown for the Crusaders.

Here are four observations from the O’Dea-Eastside Catholic game:

Big-play defense keys Eastside Catholic’s win

Senior linebacker Hunter Misa’s 21-yard scoop-and-score with 10:02 left in the second quarter gave Eastside Catholic a 14-0 cushion and swung momentum.

But it took another scoop-and-score – this time an 8-yarder – from senior lineman Samuel Burroughs to swing the game toward the Crusaders once and for all. Burroughs fumble return for touchdown with 11:07 left in the game put EC up 21-14.

“We had to come in with the mentality of we’re about to be in a war,” Misa said. “And, obviously it was a war. We each have to be locked in the whole game.”

Then, a recovery of a muff on the ensuing kickoff led to an Adam Jacobs’ 29-yard field goal for a 24-14 lead with 8:19 to play in the game.

“I told [the defense] to stay on the field,” Daste said with a laugh.

Crusaders feast on turnovers

The Crusaders’ defense and special teams racked up eight turnovers. Four of those came on interceptions of O’Dea senior quarterback John Kohler and four more via fumble.

Kohler also had two fumbles.

Eastside Catholic sophomore defensive back Tyson Weaver picked off Kohler three times and David Lene had the other interception.

“Winning is too hard not to enjoy this,” Daste said.

Brown, Ashcraft lone bright spots on offense for Irish

By the standards O’Dea running back Jason Brown established last season and earlier this season, he had an off night against Eastside Catholic.

The Crusaders’ defense didn’t let him shake loose much of the night, but Brown got free over the right side for a 46-yard TD run with 6:22 to go before halftime. Brown’s score pulled the Irish within 14-7 and the sophomore went on to finish with 101 yards on 19 carries.

Junior tight end Tucker Ashcraft hauled in six passes for 91 yards for the Irish (4-2, 2-1) and kept plenty of drives alive with big catches.

Young McDonald stout on defense

O’Dea sophomore defensive back Kyan McDonald did all he could on the defensive side of the ball to keep his team in the game.

With the game scoreless at the 4:13 mark of the first quarter, McDonald blocked a 33-yard field goal attempt by Adam Jacobs for EC.

Then, McDonald knotted the score at 14-14 with a 41-yard interception return for touchdown down his team’s sideline with 3:59 left in the third quarter.

Lead photo by Vince Miller

Matt Massey

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