Bellevue, Newport get defensive | Prep football preview

Mercer Island quarterback Jeff Lindquist (above in a 2010 game against Newport) has the attention of the Bellevue defense heading into tonights showdown.  - Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter
Mercer Island quarterback Jeff Lindquist (above in a 2010 game against Newport) has the attention of the Bellevue defense heading into tonights showdown.
— image credit: Chad Coleman, Bellevue Reporter

It's no secret that Newport and Bellevue have two of the most dangerous offenses in the area, led by a pair of dual-threat maestros in Isaac Dotson and Tyler Hasty. But when the Knights welcome unbeaten Eastlake and the Wolverines travel to 3-1 Mercer Island, it will be the defenses that hold the key to victory.

Facing a top-flight quarterback is nothing new for the Bellevue defense in 2011.

First, it was Lucas Falk, an Oaks Christian transfer from Logan, Utah who is widely considered one of the top prospects at his position in the country for the class of 2013. Next up was Max Browne, a junior from Skyline who holds scholarship offers from California, Clemson, Utah, Wisconsin and the hometown Washington Huskies. Neither could crack the Wolverines.

But those inside the Bellevue program are looking at tonight's test against UW commit and Elite-11 participant Jeff Lindquist as the most difficult of the three.

"Jeff is probably a little more mobile than the other two and that creates some problems," Bellevue head coach Butch Goncharoff said. "He's a little harder to prep for."

Bellevue senior defensive back Devin Murphy will be part of the defensive unit charged with slowing Lindquist.

"The key is that he [Lindquist] can run the ball really well and has good size," Murphy said of the 6'3, 225 pound Mercer Island senior. "We're going to need to rally to the ball when he's running and be disciplined in our coverage."

Despite Lindquist's ability to create with both his arm and legs, the Wolverines are confident they will be able to matchup with Mercer Island at the line of scrimmage, keeping the linebacking corps free to attack in the run game and close down passing windows when the Islanders take to the air.

Newport eyes Kemp, Lewis in tonight's crucial 4A KingCo face-off

Newport surrendered its lowest point total of the season last week in a 49-6 win over Cascade (Everett) after allowing 24 to Bothell and 34 to both Interlake and Mercer Island, which handed the Knights their only loss of the year.

The Wolves, meanwhile, have scored more than 40 points in each of their previous three games after opening with a 35-14 win over Central Kitsap.

"They [Eastlake] are really good at running," Newport senior and leading tackler Nathan Kubej said. "We're going to need to be physical and real quick off the ball."

Eastlake boasts two of the top eight rushers in the conference, including Ryan Lewis, whose 428 rushing yards are more than anyone else in the league. His six rushing scores are tied for top in 4A KingCo. Quarterback Keegan Kemp is also a threat on the ground and has tallied over 100 yards on the ground.

"We're going to have to pressure him and make sure we break down," Kubej said. "We see he likes to scramble sometimes."

Since rejoining 4A in 2008, the Wolves have had Newport's number, winning each of the four games between the two, including a mini-playoff victory in 2009.

Kubej and the Knights' defense will look to end that streak tonight.

"We're thinking of Drive," Kubej said, referencing offensive coordinator Tim Driver, who tragically passed two weeks ago. "We're going to be thinking of him and doing our best to beat them."

Totems, Saints holding on to hope

Despite a combined record of 1-7 to start the season and the fact that lone win was the result of an after-the-fact forfeit, the football teams at Interlake and Sammamish remain upbeat.

Saints' coach Jason Rimkus made sure that was the case at a recent practice, when he sauntered onto the field as "Stephen Swag", dressed in full gear, complete with inside out football pants and no fewer than eight gloves dangling from his facemask.

"They loved it," Rimkus said of his players' reaction. "Sometimes things like that go further than a play call or adjustment."

Sammamish coach Brian Tucci said his team is hopeful of turning the corner this week against Lake Washington.

"We had a great week of practice," Tucci said. "Their energy was great."

The Totems' head man was also pleased with the progress of his offense, which he said went over 1,000 rushing for the season in last week's game against Juanita.

"I don't know if we rushed for 1,000 yards all of last year," Tucci said.

Sammamish will have one of its best chances to pick up a win in 2011 tonight against Lake Washington, which has been shut out twice and has only a single win, also by way of forfeit.
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