Friday Night Lights - Two Games

Dawgman.com's Owen Donaldson and Scott Eklund hit the town Friday night to see some of the top high school football players strut their stuff. Donaldson saw Skyline dismantle Issaquah, while Eklund saw Bellevue do the same to the Juanita Rebels

Friday Night Lights - Skyline at Issaquah:

This game was probably the most anticipated high school game of the year thus far. The top ranked Skyline Spartans met their cross-town rivals, the Issaquah Eagles, for a match up of the #1 and #3 ranked teams in the state. After the first quarter had been played, it was clear that Skyline and their group of stars had no peers in the state of Washington this year. The game ended 38-0 in favor of the Spartans, while Issaquah struggled for less than 60 yards of offense.

There were a lot of college prospects on the field, and here are some that separated from the rest during the game…

Skyline QB Jake Heaps (2010) – Many consider Heaps the top player in his class, not only in the state but also the entire country. Skyline has been so completely dominant this season that Jake has not really needed to play past halftime all year. He played until about halfway through the 4th quarter this Friday and his stats proved what he can do in a complete game. He had a rushing touchdown and four passing touchdowns, all of them to different receivers. He was accurate and efficient going 20-23 for 322 yards, and only suffered one sack. He has confidence, a steady attitude, great footwork, excellent pocket presence, as well as an above average arm and decision making skills. It is not hard to see why Heaps is so sought after by college coaches and he should have his pick of any school next year. Skyline won a hard fought game in the championship last year but it is hard to imagine anyone testing them during their quest for a repeat this year.

Skyline WR/DB Gino Simone (2009) – This kid is a football player. Whether it is catching balls, making hits at safety, or returning kicks, Simone makes plays and helps his team win. He is not over whelming with his size or speed but he just knows how to play football and puts a lot of effort into his performance. Gino catches pretty much anything, covers and enforces in the defensive backfield, and has great return ability. He caught a touchdown in the game but his biggest impact was on defense and punt returns. Avoiding contact is not a part of his game, as he set the tone early on defense by blowing up an Issaquah receiver in the first quarter. He is expected to be a receiver on the next level but he has the versatility to change the game in a number of areas.

Skyline WR/DB Kasen Williams (2011) – Williams is a very impressive looking athlete, being listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds. He is every bit of that and has time to grow over the next two years. He is imposing both as a receiver and as a safety and he could play either one on the next level. He had a 25-yard touchdown in the game, and beat the coverage so badly that it looked like a warm up toss from Heaps. Kasen shows good cover skills for a safety and his speed is more than adequate, making it tough on Issaquah all night. His size makes it possible for him to be a deep threat but also one that makes catches to keep drives going. The potential for this player appears to be through the roof and college coaches will be all over him as they have begun to recruit him already.

Skyline WR/DB William Chandler (2009) – There are four excellent wide receivers on the Skyline squad. Most know Simone and Williams and they are definitely deserving of all the attention they get, but the other two, Jake Knecht (2009) and Chandler are great players in their own right. Chandler, listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, broke out this game with six catches for roughly 150 yards. He connected with Heaps for a very impressive 87-yard touchdown reception and could not be covered by anyone on the Issaquah defense. His speed doesn't necessarily stand out but he has good hands and can be a very effective wideout with his height and route running. He also starts at corner and plays well there but his future is most likely at receiver on the next level.

Other Skyline players to watch: LB/TE Cooper Pelluer (2010); DL/OL Rob Tramonte (2009); RB/LB Joey Evans (2009); WR/DB Jake Knecht (2009).

Issaquah RB/DB Grant Gellatly (2010) – Fans had to feel bad for Issaquah who came out fighting and never gave up, they just ran into the machine that is Skyline. Gellatly, being the featured running back, had it tough facing a dominant Spartan defense as well as having to help cover four excellent wide receivers on defense. He is a good player who possesses a lot of talent but he was just not able to showcase it on this night. He is a pretty shifty runner with good vision and decent acceleration, but Skyline's starting defense has not given up a point this year and consistently stuffed Gellatly all night. He isn't the biggest player, which may prevent him from playing for a D-1 school but he puts in effort on every play and has been a star for Issaquah this year.

Issaquah OL/DL Christian Rennie (2009) – Issaquah has one of the bigger lines in the state and Rennie is probably the best one of the bunch at this point. He starts at offensive and defensive tackle for the Eagles and has the ability to take over the line. The problem for Christian on this night was that Skyline also has a large and skilled line and he was not able to get much going. On defense, he often faced double teams and was not able to get to Heaps with much pressure at all. He did fairly well on offense, but even if he locked up his player, the Skyline defense is hard to deny. He possesses good athleticism and flexibility to go along with his big body. Rennie is listed at 6-foot-5 and 280 pounds and will be a good offensive lineman for a college program. He has an offer from Air Force and others may be on the way.

Other Issaquah players to watch: OL/DL Daniel Fleischman (2010); OL/DL Dillion Reagan (2009); DL/TE Sean Stuby (2009); RB/LB Nik Landdeck (2011).
Friday Night Lights - Bellevue at Juanita:

It's not a big shock that the Bellevue Wolverines dominated the Juanita Rebels on Friday night, but Dawgman.com's Scott Eklund didn't head to Juanita High School in the Totem Lake area expecting to see a great game. What he went for was to see some top underclassmen play on both teams and he got an eyeful of some of the top youngsters in the state.

When we got to the stadium behind Juanita High School, it was obvious that fans haven't yet embraced the football movement taking place under the direction of new head coach Shaun Tarantola.

Tarantola and most of his staff were successful at Evergreen (Burien) High School and they have much more in the way of resources and a talent pool to pull from, but this is about building the program from the ground up and in the end the Wolverines were just too powerful, notching a 42-7 Kingco 3A win.

While neither team has a lot of senior talent, both schools' rosters have quite a few underclassmen to keep an eye on over the next few years and here's the players that stood out on Friday night…

Bellevue RB/S Jamal Atofau (2009) – Atofau stood out as the best athlete on the field. He was shifty and quick and showed a good burst of speed when he got into the open field. His vision really set him apart and helped him rack up over 100 yards on the ground and the first two Bellevue touchdowns – runs of seven and 34 yards respectively. He didn't have a lot of chances on defense, but he made a few tackles and was physical for a young man with his size (5-10,185).

Bellevue TE/DE Hank Thayer (2010) – Thayer has a great frame and he's an above-average athlete. I like the way he runs for a young man his size (6-4, 225) and he was open on the few passes that Bellevue opted to put in the air, but he wasn't thrown to. He didn't stand out on defense to me, but from watching him in other instances, he might be a better at defensive end.

Bellevue Marcus Henry (2011) – Henry has a ton of room to grow, but he's got the size already to be a prospect down the road. He's a solid 6-2, 225 and he pulled well on a couple of the trap plays I saw. On defense he played tackle and he was physical at the point of attack. He used his hands really well and battled Juanita C Cody Treddenbarger all night on the inside.

Other Bellevue players to watch: DT/OL Julius Moore (2010); LB Nick Moyer (2010); OL Henry Broussard (2011).

Juanita DT Tyler Claxton (2009) – The player that blew up at Washington's summer camp had a solid game, but he struggled to get penetration against the Wolverines. Before the game Claxton told me he was looking forward to the challenge, but he was neutralized most of the night by the trapping and quick Bellevue offensive line. Claxton is a classic late-bloomer that may be better off going the JC route to garner some recruiting interest, but he may end up being a valuable walk-on at a school like Washington or Washington State with the chance of earning playing time down the road.

Juanita C Cody Treddenbarger (2011) – It remains to be seen how much recruiting interest Treddenbarger will garner down the road, but it isn't because of his abilities. He's strong at the point and he's very physical. He's also got a bit of nasty in him. However, his size – he's only about 5-11 right now – could determine at what level he plays at when he graduates high school. When Juanita ran the ball, Treddenbarger was at his best, driving his man off the line, however in pass protection, the sophomore has some work to do. A Bellevue defensive lineman used a swim move on him on one play and another one used a quick step to get by him. This is something that can easily be taught, so there shouldn't be any worries in that department. He's definitely one to watch.

Juanita OT/OG Sam Shirley (2011) – In my opinion, probably the best prospect on Juanita's roster. Shirley isn't a knee-bender, he bends at the waist and he's really flexible. He also runs on the balls of his feet, something most linemen don't do. He's also got a ton of room to grow. Right now he's only about 260, but with his frame he could easily be 295 when he graduates from high school. On several running plays, Shirley drove his man off the line and continued his block well down the field. He made some young mistakes, but as he matures into his position and gets stronger, the sky is the limit for how good he can be. The nice thing for both Shirley and Treddenbarger is that they have a former NFL offensive line coach (Bill Laveroni) coaching them, which bodes well for their development.

Other Juanita players to watch: LB/FB Jeremiah Laufasa (2011), RB/LB Jhalen Brown (2010).


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