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About the game

It’s the first time this district-rivalry game has not been played at the end of the season. League realignment caused the change to the schedule.

The schools play for a trophy called the “Coal Bucket,” something original Skyline coach Steve Gervais and Issaquah coach Buddy Bland dreamed up early on in the rivalry.

“It’s really odd for us,” Skyline coach Mat Taylor said of playing the Eagles in Week 1 rather than Week 9. “But, it’s also really helped motivate the kids this offseason.”

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Skyline has made a habit of playing a big-name (and many times out-of-state) team to begin the year. The Spartans don’t have a game like that on the schedule this season.

For the Eagles, Friday’s game marks Bland’s return to the sideline for his first game since he resigned in 2006 after seven seasons. Issaquah is looking to snap a nine-game losing streak to Skyline.

The Eagles led at halftime a year ago, but wilted in the second half and fell, 30-17, in the regular-season finale.


Skyline opened in 1997, taking students out of Issaquah High to the new school on the Plateau. The Eagles won the first meeting that fall. It has been a rivalry of streaks since.

The Spartans won the next four meetings, followed by three in a row from Issaquah, the last in 2006. Skyline has run off nine consecutive victories against its older-brother school, including the 2008 state-championship game, to claim a 13-4 advantage in the series.

What they’re saying

“We know the whole community will be watching us. Especially at their house. It’s going to be a spectacle to see. We’re so hyped about it. It’s going to be awesome.” — Cameron Saffle, Skyline senior captain

“I think we have a lot going for us coming off the loss (to Skyline) last year. We’re pretty excited to come back this year, and prove we can come out and beat Skyline. It will tell us how our season is going to go.” — Andrew Dieken, Issaquah senior DE/OT

Fun fact

Not only did Mat Taylor coach at Issaquah for three seasons before moving to Skyline after the 1997-98 school year, but the Spartans coach is a 1993 Issaquah graduate.

Doug Drowley

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