Newport (3-0) @ Issaquah (1-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Newport wants to keep foot on gas entering divisional slate
With a perfect 3-0 record earned in a trio of lopsided wins, it would be easy for Newport players to relax.
That is, if it weren’t for head coach Mike Miller.
The longtime leader of the Knights addressed his team in no uncertain terms after a Tuesday practice he felt simply wasn’t up to the high standard his team has built dating back to spring football and through the first three weeks of the season.
“They have to work hard,” he said. “This is no time to take the foot off the pedal.”
While Newport has won its first three games for the first time in more than a decade, it is Friday’s Crest Division opener against Issaquah where the push toward a playoff berth truly begins.
The Eagles enter the game off a pair of losses, first to Mount Si and most recently in a 51-26 defeat at the hands of O’Dea.
Coach Chris Bennett’s squad was victimized by four turnovers against the Wildcats, a game he said left coaches and players feeling confident despite the outcome. But against the Irish last week, running back Myles Gaskin paced a run game that finished with more than 400 yards.
“Obviously, Newport is looking at that film,” he said. “We have to tackle and that is going to be an emphasis this week.”
The extra work on finishing at the point of attack will be crucial in any effort to slow a group of Knights that have been rolling up impressive numbers in their own right in compiling a 3-0 record.
Senior Conner Baumann and his physical style are still the tone-setter, but a host of other ball carriers will keep the Issaquah defense busy throughout the night. Junior Paul Wells enters the game with a team leading six rushing touchdowns on 277 yards and is averaging more than 11 yards per carry. Nkumbu Chisebuka has factored in as well, tallying three scores and 252 yards on only 22 carries.
“We knew people would be keying on Conner this year,” Miller said. “If things are going the way they should be, they can take away whoever they want and something is going to be there.”
The defensive effort for the Knights has been equally critical to their fast start this season, allowing only 10 points per game and recording seven sacks and six takeaways on the year.
Miller said he has been exceptionally pleased with his defense’s performance thus far and hopes they can contain Issaquah’s own experienced power back in senior Jack Gellatly.
While the unbeaten record has been reason for optimism around Newport thus far, Miller has his team on notice he expects the Eagles to play with a defined sense of urgency after losing their last two games and after the Knights controlled things throughout in a 40-21 win last year.
“It doesn’t matter what their record is,” he said. “Issaquah is a well-coached team and they are going to be hungry for a win. They are coming in with a chip on their shoulder and if we come in complacent, it’s going to be an Issaquah night.”
Bellevue (3-0, 1-0) @ Lake Washington (1-2, 0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
The Wolverines face their second Class 2A opponent in as many weeks on Friday at Lake Washington, after beating Sammamish 49-0 in last week’s conference opener.
Lake Washington enters the game off a 34-3 loss to Mercer Island in its first KingCo game of the year. The Kangs were dropped 7-0 in the season opener by Foss before beating Cedarcrest 34-21.
Sammamish (0-3, 0-1) VS. Mercer Island (1-1, 0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Sammamish continues its quest for the ever-elusive conference win on Friday when Mercer Island comes for a visit after the Totems were handled by Bellevue last week.
Mercer Island, which had to cancel a game because of scheduling conflicts, dominated in a win over Lake Washington after nearly coming from behind against Redmond in the season opening loss.
Interlake (0-3, 0-1) @ Mount Si (3-0, 1-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
It will be a matchup of polar opposites when Interlake takes the trip to Snoqualmie to face Mount Si this week, with the winless Saints trying to fin a way to keep contact with unbeaten Mount Si, which reached the 3A state semi-finals last season.
The Wildcats enter the game off a 23-14 win over Juanita to open the conference slate while Interlake was blanked 27-0 by Liberty in its third straight loss to begin the Dave Myers era.
The Saints have managed only 10 points on the year and will face yet another physically imposing squad in Mount Si.