Eastside Catholic, O’Dea earn top seeds in state 3A football tournament

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
The Eastside Catholic Crusaders, left, and O’Dea Fighting Irish are the top seeds in the WIAA 3A state football tournament, which kicks off November 9. Eastside Catholic won 31-13 when the two teams faced off October 5. Photo: Natalie Wallace The Eastside Catholic Crusaders, left, and O’Dea Fighting Irish are the top seeds in the WIAA 3A state football tournament, which kicks off November 9. Eastside Catholic won 31-13 when the two teams faced off October 5. Photo: Natalie Wallace

SEATTLE – After months of competition and hard work, two local Catholic high schools have earned the top seeds in the Washington state 3A Gridiron Classic football tournament that kicks off Friday, November 9.

The Eastside Catholic Crusaders (8-1) of Sammamish earned the No. 1 seed, followed by the O’Dea High School Fighting Irish (8-1) of Seattle, the defending state champions.

“It’s gotten to where it’s a true rivalry” between the schools, said Jeremy Thielbahr, head coach at Eastside Catholic.

Since 2011, either Eastside Catholic or O’Dea has played in the state championship game every year. Eastside Catholic won the title in 2014 and 2015, and O’Dea placed second in 2016. In its final poll, The Seattle Times ranks Eastside Catholic first and O’Dea third.

If both teams advance to the November 30 championship game at the Tacoma Dome, it will mark the second time they’ve faced each other this year.

On October 5, Eastside Catholic defeated O’Dea 31-13, but Thielbahr and O’Dea head coach Monte Kohler coach said the game was closer than the final score indicates.

“It was a one-score game with six minutes left,” Kohler said.

For Eastside Catholic, “it’s been a really fun season,” Thielbahr said.

At the start of the season, the Crusaders traveled to San Diego to play in the Honor Bowl, losing 35-12 to Oaks Christian School of Westlake Village, Califonia.

“We would do it again in a second, but we wished we would’ve played better,” Thielbahr said.

The first round of the Gridiron Classic is a rematch of O’Dea and Kennewick’s Kamiakin High School, which defeated the Fighting Irish in the 2016 championship game. Game time is 5 p.m. November 9 at Memorial Stadium, 401 Fifth Ave. N., located at the Seattle Center.

“Everyone is good at this point and we’ll have to play really well,” Kohler said.

Following that game, Eastside Catholic competes at 7:45 p.m. at Memorial Stadium against Kirkland’s Lake Washington High School.

Learn more about the Gridiron Classic.

UPDATE (11/12/18): Eastside Catholic and ODea have both advanced to the quarterfinals. 

Eastside Catholic defeated Lake Washington 42-12. They'll face No. 8 Timberline High School (Lacey) on Friday, November 16, at 7:45 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Seattle. 

ODea beat Kamiakin 49-7 and will face No. 7 Peninsula High School (Gig Harbor) on Friday, November 16, at 5 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.