TACOMA – It’s apparently never happened before: Two local Catholic high schools are facing off in the state 3A football championship game.
Seattle’s O’Dea High School, the defending state champ, will meet Eastside Catholic High School of Sammamish, a two-time state title holder, in the Gridiron Classic at 7:30 p.m. November 30 at the Tacoma Dome.
It will be the second time this year that the two teams have met. On October 5, the Eastside Catholic Crusaders defeated the O’Dea Fighting Irish, 31-13. Both teams have an 11-1 record.
“It’s gotten to where it’s a true rivalry” between the schools, Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr said earlier this month. Since 2011, either Eastside Catholic or O’Dea has played in the state championship game.
Eastside Catholic High School has updated its Facebook page in advance of Friday’s 3A state championship football game against O’Dea High School. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Catholic High School Facebook page
O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said the days leading up to this year’s big game are “just part of the routine” at O’Dea. The team (seniors make up about one-third of the roster) is holding practice, but no school assembly is scheduled ahead of Friday’s game, Kohler said.
This is the third straight year that the Fighting Irish have played in the state final. Last year, they beat Rainier Beach; in 2016, they lost to Kamiakin High School of Kennewick.
This year, O’Dea beat Kamiakin 49-7 in the first round of the playoffs. That was followed by a 35-19 victory over Peninsula High School of Gig Harbor, then a 24-7 win over Mountain View High School of Vancouver.
Eastside Catholic, which won the state title in 2014 and 2015, began this year’s playoffs with a 42-12 victory over Lake Washington High School of Kirkland. They followed that up with a 44-14 win over Timberline High School of Lacey, then beat Bellevue High School, 41-3, in the semifinals.
“They’re all tough,” Kohler said of the teams in the playoffs. “Everybody is good at this time of year.”