The Lake Stevens and Eastlake football teams were originally slated to square off in a season-opening showdown on Sept. 3. That matchup ended up being one of two games the Vikings canceled due to COVID-19 protocols following positive tests in their program.
But as fate would have it — nearly three months after their initially scheduled matchup — these two teams are set to face each other after all.
And this time, the stakes are far greater.
No. 2 seed Eastlake (12-0) and No. 3 seed Lake Stevens (10-0) will square off in a Class 4A state semifinal clash of unbeatens Saturday afternoon at Bothell’s Pop Keeney Stadium, with the winner moving one step closer to its first-ever state championship.
“It would mean the world,” Vikings standout senior quarterback Grayson Murren said of reaching the title game. “… It’d mean everything.”
Here’s a preview of the matchup:
No. 2 EASTLAKE vs. No. 3 LAKE STEVENS
When: 1 p.m., Saturday
Where: Pop Keeney Stadium (Bothell)
Radio: KRKO 1380 AM
Implications: The winner advances to face either No. 1 Graham-Kapowsin or No. 4 Kamiakin in the 4A state championship game.
Matchup history: The last time these teams met was in 2011, when Lake Stevens routed Eastlake 50-21 in the 4A state quarterfinals.
Record: 12-0, 4-0 KingCo 4A Crest Division
Playoff path: beat Curtis 49-14 in winner-to-state round; beat No. 15 Eastmont 50-0 in state first round; beat No. 7 Sumner 46-29 in state quarterfinals
State history: Eastlake is making the first state semifinal appearance in its school’s 29-year history. The Wolves have made 10 state playoff appearances in the past 15 full-length seasons, but hadn’t advanced past the state quarterfinals until this year.
Season recap: Led by a talented group of playmakers on both sides of the ball, unbeaten Eastlake is enjoying its best season in program history. The Wolves’ success has come under first-year head coach Kyle Snell, who was the program’s offensive coordinator for the previous eight seasons. Eastlake opened with a pair of non-league wins over state playoff teams, routing undermanned eventual 4A state qualifier Kentwood 53-0 and edging eventual 3A state quarterfinalist Rainier Beach 17-16. The Wolves beat Mount Si 27-20 in Week 7, which ultimately determined the KingCo 4A Crest Division title. In the conference championship game two weeks later, Eastlake shut down eventual 4A state quarterfinalist Bothell 21-3 in a torrential downpour to claim the program’s first KingCo 4A title in two decades. The Wolves then rolled past Curtis in the winner-to-state round and Eastmont in the state opening round before pulling away from Sumner in the second half of last week’s state quarterfinal.
Offense: With its versatile and balanced spread attack, Eastlake averages 38.9 points per game and has scored at least 46 points in each of its three playoff contests. First-year starting senior quarterback Parker Barrysmith has completed 60.3% of his passes for 2,565 yards and 30 touchdowns. Barrysmith had a massive performance in last week’s state quarterfinal, throwing for a school-record 408 yards and four TDs. Barrysmith’s top targets are senior receiver Noah Weintraub, senior tight end Griffin Miller and senior receiver Will Eaton. Weintraub has 670 yards receiving and six TD catches, including a 99-yard catch-and-run score last week. Miller has 645 yards receiving and nine TD grabs. Eaton, the son of former Seattle Seahawk and eight-year NFL defensive tackle Chad Eaton, has 524 yards receiving and six TD catches. The Wolves also average 6.0 yards per carry on the ground, led by senior running backs Jack Peterson and Michael Lester. Peterson has rushed for 711 yards and 10 TDs, while Lester has added 607 yards and five TDs.
Defense: Eastlake’s stingy defense allows just 9.3 points and 203 total yards per game. The Wolves have posted three shutouts and held eight opponents to single digits, while yielding more than 20 points only once all season. Eastlake has intercepted 13 passes and limited opponents to a 53.9 completion percentage and just 2.6 yards per carry. Senior linebacker Griffin Miller, the KingCo 4A Crest Division defensive most valuable player, has 11 tackles for loss. Fellow linebacker Harry Reid, a junior, has 9.5 tackles for loss. Senior defensive end Logan Eller has added five tackles for loss and senior cornerback Noah Weintraub has three interceptions.
Record: 10-0 overall, 4-0 Wesco 4A
Playoff path: beat Emerald Ridge 63-21 in winner-to-state round; beat No. 14 Richland 52-7 in state first round; beat No. 6 Gonzaga Prep 35-14 in state quarterfinals
State history: Lake Stevens is making its eighth state semifinal appearance, including its third in the past six full-length seasons. The Vikings are seeking their fourth trip to a state championship game and are in pursuit of their first official state title. They advanced to the 4A state championship game in 2018 and the 3A state title game in 1994 and 1985, finishing as the state runner-up all three times. Lake Stevens claims a pair of unofficial state titles prior to the creation of the state playoffs in the 1970s.
Season recap: After its first two games were canceled, Lake Stevens opened with a 20-3 win over perennial power and eventual 3A state quarterfinalist O’Dea in Week 3. The Vikings then cruised to blowout victories until Week 8, when they prevailed for a tense 35-28 win over upstart Kamiak. Standout senior quarterback Grayson Murren suffered a leg fracture in the Kamiak game and missed nearly the entirety of the next three contests, but Lake Stevens still managed to score a combined 149 points over that span. In Week 9, the Vikings pivoted to a Wildcat-heavy rushing attack and beat league rival Glacier Peak 34-28 to claim their eighth consecutive Wesco 4A title. Then after backup freshman quarterback Kolton Matson returned from a season-long injury the following week, Lake Stevens went back to its normal spread offense and rolled to a Week 10 playoff rout of Emerald Ridge and a first-round state blowout of Richland. Last week, with Murren making his first start since the injury, the Vikings rode strong performances on both sides of the ball to a state quarterfinal triumph over previously unbeaten Gonzaga Prep.
Offense: With explosive playmakers highlighting yet another balanced and high-scoring Lake Stevens spread attack, the Vikings average 47.5 points per game and have scored at least 34 points in all but one contest. Standout senior quarterback Grayson Murren missed nearly three full games with a leg fracture, but returned to start last week’s state quarterfinal and had an efficient outing, completing 14 of 21 passes for 214 yards. In seven-plus games this season, the 6-foot-5 Murren has completed 70.7% of his passes for 1,505 yards, 18 TDs and three interceptions. Four-star junior running back Jayden Limar — who has offers from the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas A&M — is an elite talent who averages 8.1 yards per carry and has totaled 1,407 yards rushing, 354 yards receiving and 23 offensive TDs. Limar led the way offensively in the state quarterfinal victory, totaling 165 yards from scrimmage and four TD runs. Senior wideout Drew Carter, an Eastern Washington commit, has added 947 yards receiving and 13 TD catches. And versatile senior receiver Trayce Hanks has 520 yards rushing, 505 yards receiving, 13 offensive TDs and three TD returns on special teams.
Defense: Lake Stevens allows just 13.4 points per game and hasn’t surrendered more than 28 points all season. The Vikings have limited opponents to just 247 total yards per contest, 4.7 yards per play and 3.3 yards per carry. One of their most impressive performances came in last week’s state quarterfinal, when they held Gonzaga Prep’s high-powered triple-option ground attack to a season-low 14 points and just 233 total yards. They limited the Bullpups to just 4.1 yards per carry, which was nearly half Gonzaga Prep’s season average entering the game. Senior defensive lineman Dylan Slezak is a force up front, with 6.0 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Madison Wynkoop, the team’s leading tackler, has 19 tackles for loss. And the secondary is anchored by a pair of two-way senior standouts in Trayce Hanks and Drew Carter. Hanks, a shutdown cornerback, has four interceptions. Carter, a versatile safety and Eastern Washington commit, has three sacks, nine tackles for loss and an interception.
Lake Stevens 45, Eastlake 28
— Cameron Van Til, Herald writer
Lake Stevens 28, Eastlake 21
— Zac Hereth, Herald writer
Lake Stevens 31, Eastlake 28
— Steve Willits, Prep Sports Weekly co-host
Lake Stevens 21, Eastlake 17
— Tom Lafferty, KRKO Radio