Eastside Catholic Crusaders win state football title

The Eastside Catholic Crusaders gathered for a team photo after claiming the state 3A football title with a 31-13 win over the O’Dea Fighting Irish. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Catholic High School The Eastside Catholic Crusaders gathered for a team photo after claiming the state 3A football title with a 31-13 win over the O’Dea Fighting Irish. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Catholic High School

TACOMA – After a three-year absence, Eastside Catholic High School brought the state 3A football trophy back home to Sammamish with a 31-13 win over O’Dea High School, the defending champs, at the Tacoma Dome November 30.

“I’m so proud of our team. I’m so proud of our community. I’m so proud of everything that Eastside Catholic stands for,” head coach Jeremy Thielbahr said in a post-game interview broadcast on Root Sports Northwest. “It’s just so great to be a part of something so special.”

Eastside Catholic claimed its third 3A football title in the last five seasons — they also won in 2014 and 2015. For O’Dea, it was the third consecutive trip to the state title game; in 2016 they lost to Kamiakin in overtime.

It was apparently the first time two Catholic high schools faced each other in a state football championship game. It was the second time O’Dea and Eastside Catholic met this season. Both games ended 31-13, with the Crusaders on top.

Eastside Catholic High SchoolThe Eastside Catholic Crusaders fan page on Facebook got a new cover photo after the Sammamish school’s football team won the state 3A title over O’Dea November 30. Photo: Courtesy Eastside Catholic High School Facebook page

In the post-game interview, Thielbahr called the game “a great hardcore schematical battle between [O’Dea coach] Monte Kohler and our great coaches.”

As the game wound down, some of the Crusaders celebrated by dousing Thielbahr with the contents of their water bottles. After the final whistle, the players lined up to shake hands with each other.

“You see a lot of respect out of these kids right here,” said Root Sports sideline reporter Michael Bumpus. “During the game it’s a battle. When it’s all said and done, you shake your hands. Hats off to both these programs.”

After the game, Thielbahr gathered with his players, who all knelt and prayed the Our Father. Then the celebrations continued, with the players clustering around the state trophy, taking turns touching and kissing it.

“Our kids are electric,” Thielbahr said in the post-game interview. “Our kids work hard, they play hard, and you know what, it’s fun to watch.”