The Eatonville Cruisers scored first but ultimately failed to stop Freeman when needed and fell to the Scotties, 23-17, in the Class 1A state football quarterfinals, ending the Cruisers’ season.
Eatonville finished the year at 8-2 and were co-champions of the Evergreen Conference; Freeman improved to 9-2 and will meet Royal in the state semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 26.
How it happened
The Cruisers opened the scoring midway into the first quarter when Job Kralik connected on a 37-yard field goal to give Eatonville a 3-0 lead.
The Scotties responded by driving 88 yards in six plays, capping the drive with a 53-yard scoring strike from Boen Phelps to Luke Whitaker to put Freeman up 7-3.
After an Eatonville fumble, Freeman struck again, this time on a 10-yard Kanoa Rogan run. The extra point was blocked, and the Scotties extended their lead to 13-3.
With Ky Nation in at quarterback, the Cruisers marched 75 yards on 10 plays and found the end zone when Nation hit Kralik in stride for the 53-yard score to cut into the Freeman lead at 13-10.
The Scotties added to their lead when Eatonville’s Kralik, playing at quarterback, was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone, which resulted in a safety. That extended Freeman’s lead to 15-10, and the Cruisers kicked the ball back.
After forcing a Freeman punt, the Cruisers had the ball on their 23-yard line with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the half. Eatonville put together an 11-play, 77-yard drive that saw Kralik carry the ball in from the 1-yard line for the score to give the Cruisers the lead back, 17-15, at the half.
The second half
After both teams traded punts to open the second half, Freeman’s Phelps connected with Whitaker again for what looked like a 55-yard score, but Eatonville’s Walker Bruun chased Whitaker down and punched the ball free at the goal line. The Cruisers recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchback.
The Cruisers could not capitalize on the touchback and eventually turned the ball over on downs at the 28-yard line. Five plays later, Phelps connected with Whitaker again for a 13-yard Freeman score. Phelps ran the ball in for a successful two-point conversion, and the Scotties would take the lead back, 23-17.
On the next possession, the Cruisers started at their 34-yard line. They moved the ball to the Freeman 26 before turning it over on downs.
The Scotties then drove to the Cruiser 12-yard line and turned it over on downs, as well.
With 12.4 seconds left in the game, Eatonville moved the ball to the 35-yard line, and with 1.4 seconds left on the clock had enough time for one play. That play was ultimately picked off by the Scotties, who downed the ball to seal the victory, 23-17.
“I am really proud of this senior class,” coach Gavin Kralik said. “They played a big part in accomplishing a 26-4 record over the past three seasons.”
Eatonville will graduate nine players from this year’s squad, including Kralik at quarterback, linebacker/tight end Jake Wood and linemen Kyle Cox, Tristan Lewis and Carsen Pero. Kralik has committed to play at Army next year, while Cox has committed to play at Boise State. The trio of Wood, Lewis and Pero have offers to play next season, but have yet to decide to which schools they will commit.
Final game for Kralik
This loss also marks the end of Gavin Kralik’s reign as head coach for the Cruisers as he announced before the season started that he would be stepping down. Kralik ends his coaching career with an overall 113-77 record and was 47-18 in his six years as Eatonville’s head coach. In those six years, he guided his teams to five state appearances, one league title, two co-league titles and a runner-up finish at state in 2021.
“I am very thankful for having the opportunity to serve as head coach for the past six seasons,” Kralik shared after the game. “Fantastic families, players, coaches and administrative support have made it very special to coach at Eatonville. It is a very special community atmosphere that is uncommon.”
Defensive coordinator Rex Norris will take over the helm for the Cruisers.
“I am really excited for Coach Norris and what his leadership will provide to the people that are part of the program,” Kralik said. “[I’m] looking forward to the future of Eatonville football, while feeling nothing but gratitude for what the past six years have brought.”
FREEMAN 23, EATONVILLE 17
E — Job Kralik 37-yard field goal
F — Luke Whitaker 53-yard pass from Boen Phelps (Kick blocked)
F — Kanoa Rogan 10-yard run (Kick blocked)
E — Job Kralik 53-yard pass from Ky Nation (Kralik kick)
F — Safety
E — Job Kralik 1-yard run (Kralik kick)
F — Luke Whitaker 3-yard pass from Phelps (2-point conversion, Phelps)