Friday Night Lights - Two Games

Dawgman.com's Scott Eklund and Chris Fetters were out at a couple of games last week taking a look at a couple of rising in-state signal-callers. One, Lake Stevens' Jacob Eason, who is only a sophomore, has an offer from a Pac 12 school and he's started to attract the attention from Washington as well...

Edmonds-Woodway at Lake Stevens
Chris Fetters

Fetters witnessed what some are calling the "Game of the Year" in the state of Washington as Lake Stevens didn't take their only lead of the game until there were about 30 seconds left in the game. Eason hit wide receiver Te vin Gray with a seven-yard touchdown pass on 3rd-and-5, giving the Vikings a 53-49 win over Edmonds-Woodway in the Wesco 4A Championship Game.

Top Prospects
Lake Stevens

WR/SS Tevin Gray (2015) - The state of Washington is going to have a few of the smaller slot-type receivers available for 2015, and Tevin Gray has to be right at the top of the list along with guys like Keynan Foster from Jackson, Jeffrey Feiglas from Eastlake and Jalen Hicks from Ferris in Spokane. At 5-11 and 195 pounds, Gray had four touchdowns on the night - including the game-winner - and showed exceptional quickness and movement after the catch. His whole game was really about yards after the catch and yards after contact. He has a year to make sure he has that game-breaking speed he'll need to attract the top FBS schools, but for right now I'd be shocked if he wasn't a Big Sky target at the very least and could go even higher with a big off-season.

QB Jacob Eason (2016) - I was told of Eason's Oregon State offer a few days before I got a chance to see him, and it was easy to figure out immediately why the Beavers love 'Skinny' enough to offer so early. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, two things stood out right away after only watching Eason for the first quarter; his ability to throw a very catchable ball, and his ability to make all the necessary balls. It's clear that Skinny has been groomed to play the position; his father Tony played tight end at Notre Dame and I expect his son to be in the 6-5, 230 range by the time he finishes at Lake Stevens. What became more apparent as the game went on was his poise and leadership traits. Eason was able to constantly bring the Vikings back time after time after time when it looked like Edmonds-Woodway had LS on the ropes. And Lake Stevens scored the winning touchdown with only 38 seconds to go to win 53-49! Washington knows all about Eason and he's building a relationship with Marque Tuiasosopo. From my reading of essential traits when it comes to UW QB targets, Eason is only missing one right now; escapability and scrambling ability. He really doesn't have any at this point, but he has over two years to develop his athleticism and become dangerous with his feet. But in every other aspect of quarterbacking, Eason already looks like a potential heir apparent to Sean Mannion in Corvallis - he has that kind of make-up and ability.

RB Austin Otis (2014) - Otis was the main ball-carrier for the Vikings, and he's uses his quick burst to either get through to the second level or around end. He's a very, very good high school player that is unfortunately not a very powerfully built kid for his size. He's listed at 5-foot-9, but he's not that tall. What he is is fast, and if he can continue to develop strength to go with that speed we've seen shorter running backs who have excelled at the next level. He's not a flat-out burner but he would be a easy Big Sky pickup because of his production and style of play.

WR/CB Hunter Eckstrom (2017) - When I heard about Skinny Eason's offer, I also heard about Eckstrom - a ninth-grader that was starting for the Vikings on both sides of the ball. It's always intriguing to see what the youngsters can do in their first seasons, especially when it comes to playoff time, but Eckstrom is more than just a casual contributor. He's one of the Vikings' starting cornerbacks, and he came up with some rough duty going up against 6-2 senior Jason Sma rr from Edmonds-Woodway. At 5-foot-10, Eckstrom needs to get bigger, faster, and stronger - but he's got all the time in the world to make that happen. What was clear from the beginning is that he already has a feel for the game and a competitive streak that will keep him in good stead. In seeing him right after their win, he was mumbling to himself about the tough night out on the edge controlling arguably the best 'big' receiver in Wesco - a good sign, if you ask me. He's already expecting big things out of himself, and that drive will turn him into a player. As long as he continues to develop physically, Eckstrom should be a name UW fans might want to keep in their back pockets and come back in 2016 to see what he has become.

Edmonds-Woodway

LB/RB Mac McLachlan (2014) - Mac is just another one of those guys that just gets the job done on both sides of the ball, despite not having the kind of D1 body you'd hope to see in such a gamer. He's a big, big reason the Warriors were undefeated heading into their Wesco Championship game with Lake Stevens, and also a big reason why E-W was able to take lead after lead after lead during the game. Primarily a linebacker, McLachlan is the heart and soul of the Warriors' defense in the middle, using every inch and pound of his 6-foot, 195-pound frame to make plays all over the field. On offense he was sometimes used to carry the ball, but more often (and more effectively, in my opinion) used as a lead blocker for Junior Opoku-Mensah for big gains. I would love to see an FCS team step up and make a play for Mac, because there's no earthly reason to think he wouldn't become a solid contributor.

WR Jason Smarr (2014) - Smarr has been a home-run hitter for the Warriors all season, and it was especially true Friday night, where he had touchdowns of 77 and 86 yards. At 6-foot-2 he created a lot of mis-matches for the younger Lake Stevens corners and E-W quarterback Davis Giles exploited one-on-one coverage. I would want to see more of Smarr to know if he's a true FCS prospect - I believe he could be - but it was hard to get a gauge on his true breakaway speed. The two touchdowns were when the opponents fell down and weren't able to recover. That being said, Smarr's game wasn't the first time he's gone off this year for big yards (four catches for 220 yards), so I wouldn't be surprised if he was a guy some Big Sky schools might take a look at late.

OL/DL Travis Bakken (2014) - At 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, Bakken is the ideal size nowadays when it comes to FBS programs looking for those tackle prospects they can mold into 300-pound, cat-quick players. Bakken did go to Washington's Rising Stars camp last summer and is still definitely on their radar - but it's tough to gauge how serious the continued interest is at this point. As a walk-on candidate, Bakken would be intriguing as all get-out because of his size and his ability to push people around as a left tackle, as he was able to do Friday against Lake Stevens. But in all fairness, Lake Stevens was small up front, and any good left tackle should have been able to exploit the size difference. The Vikings weren't able to get much of a pass rush on Davis, so Bakken was part of a group that did their job well in that department. I want to continue to monitor Bakken's progress as E-W makes its way through the playoffs. He definitely has potential because of his size alone and the way he moves, but as a BCS scholarship guy I'm not 100 percent sure about that yet. The consistency has to be there.


Auburn Riverside at Auburn
Scott Eklund

It was a defensive battle most of the night, but Auburn Riverside finally wound up pulling away and getting a 20-7 win over their cross-town rivals in the SPSL North.

Top Prospects
Auburn Riverside

QB Kevin Thomson (2014) - Word was that Thomson had been starting to receive offers and sure enough, he's got full rides from the likes of Idaho and UNLV and Wyoming could be coming in with an offer soon. The talented senior signal-caller is a dual-threat typically, but because of what the Trojans were doing defensively, he rarely ran the ball, rushing for just 33 yards, but what he did show was the ability to keep plays alive with his legs and he also showed great escapability when things broke down in his pass-protection. He finished the night just 6 of 13 for 78 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but the stats really belied his overall effectiveness. He made plays when his team needed him two, evidenced by his amazing 29-yard touchdown throw with just 20 seconds left in the first half where he escaped the Auburn pass-rush running to the right side of the field and then found his wide receiver on the complete opposite side of the field for the score. He's a true gamer and should have more non-BCS suitors than he has so far.

RB Cole Huckaby (2015) - The junior tailback looked solid most of the night and had a knack for always getting positive yardage even when he was bottled up. He was able to run through tackles and showed the ability to make yardage in-between the tackles or to the outside if necessary. He's not that big and probably not fast enough to be considered as an FCS-type, but he could play at the D2 level and have quite a bit of success. He's also only a junior, so he's got plenty of time to show coaches from four-year programs that he's got what it takes to play at the next level. He finished the night with 181 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries and really took the pressure off of Thomson who was being keyed on all night by the Trojans.

K Brandon Starks (2014) - Starks was suffering from a bit of a groin or hamstring injury, but still showed a great leg when hitting his kickoffs and field goal attempts. He's got a strong leg and I heard from someone that he had hit from 57 yards at one point this season. He kept Auburn's return-men from having a chance to return the ball by getting all of his kickoffs into the endzone. Could be a walk-on type at a Pac 12 school or be a prospect that can receive a scholarship to a lower-level program.

Auburn

RB Kieo Buchanan (2014) - Buchanan is super-quick and rarely went down with the first hit. The problem he ran into was that Auburn's offense is one-dimensional. They almost run a "Veer" offense, sending Buchanan in motion and either handing it off to him or having the quarterback carry the ball. Even though the defense knew he was going to get the ball 98% of the time, he still managed to rush for 117 yards on 16 carries including a 42-yard scamper down to the Auburn Riverside one yard line on the Trojans' opening drive, setting up a touchdown run by QB Brier Atkinson. I like the way Buchanan runs and his quickness, but he's definitely going to have to make his noise at a lower-level college program because of his size limitations.

RB Ercle Terrell (2015) - Terrell is a mirror-image of Buchanan as far as size and quickness is concerned. He too was sent in motion and he too had over 100 yards on the ground (114 to be exact) on 14 carries. He has another year to show what he can do, but, like Buchanan, I see his future being at a small school where he won't be such a liability due to his size.


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