Graphic by Skip Smith
Graphic by Skip Smith

This past week, Eatonville High School athletic director and head football coach Gavin Kralik released the Cruisers 2020 football schedule and talked a little about what the league landscape will look like next season.

With the Cruisers dropping down in classification from 2A to 1A, they will be joining the same 1A Evergreen League that they played in for two seasons in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

Kralik explained the reason for the drop in classification, “Every four years enrollment is counted over a seven month period.  Those enrollment numbers determine which classification a school will participate in for the next four year period.  Our enrollment numbers fell within the 1A level and as a result will have our programs participating with the Evergreen 1A League each of the next four seasons in all the sports that the Evergreen 1A League offers.  The Evergreen 1A League is a highly competitive league that features Elma, Hoquiam, Montesano and Tenino.” 

There will be a few tweaks to this as not all sports will compete in the 1A Evergreen league Kralik mentioned.  “Girls Swim will compete in the Evergreen 2A League.  At the state level Swim combines 1A and 2A schools because there are not many 1A schools that offer swim.  As a result, we will be competing in the Evergreen 2A for swim since we will be one of two 1A high schools in District 4 that offer Girls Swim. Boys Soccer will have some additional 2B schools included in our soccer league as well as the four Evergreen 1A programs since 2B schools opt up to 1A for Boys Soccer.  Boys Tennis will qualify for state tennis through District 3”

The 2020 Cruiser football team that battled their way to the final 16 teams in the state last season, will have a very tough schedule ahead of them in 2020. Kralik explained the reasoning behind the tough schedule.

“With the state playoffs being seeded by a committee and strength of schedule being a strong factor in improving your seed that was the bigger reason we scheduled as aggressively as we did.  We wanted to give our kids and community the best shot possible to earn one of the top seeds.  This would allow us to be the home team throughout the playoffs.  We were hoping the bond passed then we would have been able to play the games in Eatonville but being able to host playoff games at a facility closer to Eatonville is the next best thing for our team, school, and community”. 

Here is a look at the upcoming football schedule for 2020:

Friday September 4th, at Franklin Pierce, 7PM

Friday September 11th, Orting (Salute to Service Game)

Friday September 18th, Cascade Christian (Hall of Fame Game)

Friday September 25th, La Center (Homecoming)

Friday October 2nd, at Tenino*

Friday October 9th, Montesano*

Friday October 16th, at Elma*

Friday October 23rd, at Castle Rock

Friday October 30th, Hoquiam*(Senior Night)

 

*League Game

Here is a complete week by week break down of the Cruisers upcoming opponents.

Week 1, at Franklin Pierce. Franklin Pierce is coming off an 8-3 record in 2019.  Franklin Pierce edged the Cruisers 27-25 in Eatonville last season.  The Cardinals have reached the 2A state playoffs 4 of the past 5 seasons.  The Cardinals will be led by two returning 1st Team All-League Defensive Lineman in Seniors Atafa Auau and Donovan Hartman. 

Week 2, Home vs. Orting (Salute to Service). The Cruisers will host the Orting Cardinals on 9/11 in a Salute to Service game.  Eatonville has won the past four meetings between the teams with the most recent win coming in the week 10 playoffs in 2019.  Orting returns the Defensive Player of the Year from the SPSL 2A in Senior Caden Gottfried.  Returning senior Linemen Carter Thomas and Dathan Taape both were named 1st Team OL in 2019.  Orting also returns the Defensive Back of the Year in 2019 in Senior Torrey Bannan.

Week 3, Home vs. Cascade Christian (Hall of Fame Game). The Cruisers look to avenge their 33-30 defeat in 2019 to the Cougars.  Cascade Christian has only been beaten twice during the past four regular seasons. 

Week 4, Home vs. La Center (Homecoming). The Cruisers will welcome La Center to town for Homecoming in 2020.  La Center is coming off a 10-1 season in 2019.  La Center will be led by returning Trico League MVP Tom Lambert and 1st Team All-League RB Bryten Schmitz. 

Week 5, at Tenino. The Cruisers open league play at Tenino.  This will be the first matchup between the Cruisers and the Beavers on Tenino’s Black Turf.  The Beavers will be led by returning 1st Team All-League Linemen Robert Marti and Takari Hickle.

Week 6, Home vs. Montesano. Defending Evergreen 1A Champion comes to Eatonville renewing a healthy rivalry.  The Bulldogs are coming off an 11-1 season in 2019 and return the League MVP in QB Senior Trace Ridgway. 

Week 7, at Elma. The Cruisers travel to Elma where they will face the Eagles who lost year to La Center in the week 10 loser out winner to state game.  In 2018 Elma reached the state playoffs.  Elma returns a pair of linemen that received All-League honors in 2019 in Caleb Knutson and Noah Huttula. 

Week 8, at Castle Rock. Wyatt Partridge leads who was the Offensive Player of the Year in the Trico will lead a Castle Rock team that is coming off a 7-3 season in 2019 where they were one win away from reaching the state playoffs.

Week 9, Home vs. Hoquiam (Senior Night). The Grizzlies look to build on a 7-4 record in 2019 where they advanced to the state playoffs.  They will be led by returning first team QB Dan McMillan.  McMillan should be well protected with two returning 1st Team All-League OL/DL returning in Seniors Junior Ensminger and Cayden Stenkavich. 

Regarding the tough schedule, Kralik went on to say “In all, 8 of the 9 teams on the schedule reached the Week 10 District level playoffs with five of the teams advancing to the State Playoffs.  Four teams on the Cruiser schedule were league champions in 2019.  Three of those teams finished the regular season undefeated as well”.