Following their 24-18 victory over the Castle Rock Rockets on Friday, the Eatonville Cruisers clinched a berth into the state playoffs. The state seeding committee met on Sunday to seed the 16 qualified teams and awarded the Cruisers the No. 4 seed.
The Cruisers will host the No. 13 seed Zillah Leopards (7-3) at 4 p.m. Friday at Art Crate Stadium at Bethel High School.
Three members of Eatonville’s coaching staff have a bit of history with the Leopards.
Bobby Lucht, Bill Nation and Tom Zurfluh were all members of Eatonville’s 1992 state championship team that faced Zillah in the final all those years ago and staged one of the biggest comebacks in state title history.
In the 1992 Kingbowl at the Kingdome in Seattle, the Cruisers were down 23-0 to Zillah, and they were depending on a rally from a sophomore quarterback who had just thrown an interception that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown.
That quarterback was Bobby Lucht. With 8 minutes, 45 seconds to play in the third quarter, Lucht scored on an 8-yard run. When the fourth quarter started, the Cruisers trailed by 16.
Lucht threw two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. With less than four minutes to play, Eatonville forced Zillah to punt, and the Cruisers got the ball at the Zillah 43.
Lucht then passed the Cruisers inside the Zillah 10, and Joe Dorn scored the winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with 26 seconds left. Eatonville won, 26-23.
"1992 was a special time for our program and the community,” quarterback coach Lucht said. “That game reminds you that the game is 48 minutes long and to keep believing in what you do. I'm excited for our kids to have an opportunity not only to play Zillah but to get back to the state tournament."
Lucht said the 1992 Eatonville team would have never made it to the championship game if it wasn't for Zurfluh’s leg. Zurfluh kicked the game-winning field goal in the semifinals against Meridian to send the Cruisers to the title game.
"It was an amazing game, two really good teams battling it out all in regulation, and it continued into the first overtime,” Lucht said. “In the second overtime, the crucial play of the game was the fumble by Meridian's quarterback. We knew we had one of the best kickers in the state, and when Tommy hit that game-winner to send us to the title game, our sideline exploded.”
The two teams will meet again for the first time in 30 years, and Lucht and the rest of the Cruisers hope the outcome will be the same.