The Eatonville Cruisers’ “bend-don’t-break” defense stopped Zillah at the goal line three times Friday, and the offense exploded for 28 points as Eatonville recorded its first shutout of the season to defeat the Zillah Leopards, 28-0, and advance to the quarterfinals of the WIAA 1A state football playoffs.
The Cruiser defense set the tone early and never let up. It held the Leopards to only 181 yards of total offense — 70 on the ground and 111 through the air — including just 58 in the second half.
“Super proud of our defense,” Eatonville head coach Gavin Kralik said. “We got great performances from defensive linemen, linebackers, our secondary. It was a great game plan by our defensive staff, led by Rex Norris. So, real proud of how well they played tonight.”
How it happened
Eatonville received the opening kickoff but hurt themselves with penalties on the first drive and punted the ball to Zillah.
Zillah took the ball all the way to the Cruiser 7-yard line where the Leopards faced a fourth down and 5 yards to go. The Eatonville defense stood strong and denied the Leopards the score.
Eatonville then put together a 10-play, 93-yard drive that ended with a Ky Nation 59-yard touchdown run to give Eatonville a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the second quarter.
After the kick return, Zillah drove into the red zone again and faced a fourth down at the 15-yard line, where the Eatonville defense kept the Leopards out of the end zone, and they turned the ball over on downs.
Starting at the 15-yard line, the Cruisers only needed eight plays to go 85 yards to find the end zone. Quarterback Job Kralik hit Nation in stride, and Nation went 70 yards for the score to put Eatonville up 14-0 with 5:10 left in the half.
Nine plays later, Zillah found themselves back in the red zone facing a fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line. For the third time of the night, the Cruiser defense denied the Leopard offense the end zone, and Eatonville took over at the 1 with 2 minutes until half. A few plays later, both teams headed to the locker room with Eatonville leading 14-0.
14 more in second half
Hoping the adjustments they made during halftime would play in their favor, the Leopards received the kickoff to start the second half, and the Cruiser defense immediately forced a three-and-out, and Zillah punted.
After both teams traded punts, Eatonville found the end zone again.
Starting at their 21-yard line, the Cruisers marched 79 yards on 11 plays, and Dylan Norman capped the drive with a 7-yard scoring run to put Eatonville up 21-0 with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
The Cruiser defense again came up big on Zillah’s next possession. Facing a fourth-and-10, Eatonville’s Max Henley sacked the Leopard’s quarterback for a 9-yard loss and forced Zillah to punt the ball back to the Cruisers.
The Cruisers finished scoring for the night when Kralik hit tight end R.J. Schrimpsher for a 13-yard score to put the Cruisers up 28-0 with just under 3 minutes to play.
On their final possession of the night, Zillah turned it over on downs again, this time at midfield with 2 minutes to play. Eatonville went into the coveted victory formation and kneed the ball to run the clock out and sealed the victory.
Eatonville piled up 451 yards of total offense, averaging 7.4 yards per carry on 45 attempts. Norman led the Cruisers on the ground with 27 carries for 171 yards and one touchdown, while Nation had five carries for 95 yards and one rushing touchdown. He also caught two passes for 100 yards and a score.
With the win, the Cruisers advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs and will host the No. 12 Freeman Scotties on Saturday at Art Crate Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 pm.
EATONVILLE 28, ZILLAH 0
E — Ky Nation 59-yard run (Kralik kick)
E — Nation 70-yard pass from Kralik (Kralik kick)
E — Dylan Norman 7-yard run (Kralik kick)
E — RJ Schrimpsher 12-yard pass from Kralik (Kralik kick)