EAST WENATCHEE — Coming off of their first Big Nine win of the season, the Eastmont Wildcats are hoping to make some noise in their last three games of the season.
The team will get its first shot tonight against the Eisenhower Cadets today on Senior Night.
If the Cats want to keep their momentum from their win at Sunnyside rolling, they’ll have to maintain their strong defensive play that they showed in the second half against the Grizzlies.
“I think our front seven has really gotten a lot better,” Eastmont head coach Doug McGill said in a phone interview. “We’re going to have to be better up front because (Eisenhower) ran it well against us last time. I definitely feel better dealing with the run. Our kids are excited.”
Ike has the most potent offense statistically in the Big Nine as it has racked up 1,991 yards through the air and 1,036 on the ground. Conversely, Eastmont has the worst team defense in the league, according to the numbers, surrendering 2,749.
The key to stopping the Cadets’ attack will be a penetrating defensive line that makes it hard for league-leading quarterback Chris Sawyer to find receivers Ridge Harmon — who has 53 catches, 781 yards — and Darius Pati, who is second in the league with 27 catches for 598 yards. Pati had 165 yards on eight catches in the teams’ first meeting in Yakima.
The Wildcats will call on Eli Brewer — who had a monster of a game against Sunnyside — as well as Chandler Shaw and seniors Tyke White, Dylan Fechner, Christian Kinder, Nolan Wirth, Austin Port and Tyler Hilliard to bring the pressure.
“The quarterback (Sawyer) can throw it well, we’re going to have to get him dirty, and we’ll have to cover well,” McGill said.
Another thing Eastmont will have to keep in check is the blown coverages, which against a team like Eisenhower could be troublesome — to say the least.
“We can’t say we’re young anymore. These guys have been on the field, we’ve had the Davis game where that’s what it’s come down to,” McGill said, referencing the blown coverage against the Pirates that allowed them to score and take a 9-7 win. “Our team has worked hard at (cutting down defensive mistakes). But this team (Ike) runs multiple formations and they space the field so well and they have a kid who can sling it 40 yards on the money. We’re going to have to win up front, and make some plays. One of the reasons we won last week is because we made plays. When you do those types of things, good things happen. We’re going to have to create some takeaways if we want to beat these guys.”
Tonight’s game will mark the last home game for the team’s seniors. On top of the seniors mentioned above, the Wildcats will surely miss running back Brian Burt — who ran for 120 yards against Ike earlier this fall — as well as wide receivers Kai Spencer and Carter Haehl after this season.
“It’s a big night and we’ve talked to the kids all week and all year how special Friday night is. A lot of them have big brothers or older friends who say how much they miss Friday night. This is a special thing,” McGill said. “… They’ve been a good bunch, they’re hard-working kids and they are a big part of what we did last year, (when Eastmont won the league). It’s their senior year and we would like to send them out with a big W and get this thing rolling.”
While Eastmont is mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, it is going to look to keep improving and end the season on an upswing, McGill said.
“Our aim is to continue to improve and be competitive and finish the season strong with a few more wins. We know that the three opponents we’re going to play are all quality opponents, but you want to go up against good teams and we’re excited about it. I expect to see our kids play hard.”