RENTON – There’s something about those Friday night lights.
Outside Liberty High School’s stadium before the game, Liberty and Eastside Catholic fans tailgated, spirits running high, ready for their first taste of high-school football this fall.
Grills and people dressed in orange and blue littered the parking lot. The energy of the friends, parents, siblings and fans in general was palpable.
After all, it’s Friday night, and it’s football season.
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Even after a first half where Eastside Catholic dominated, going into halftime with a 49-6 lead, the crowd remained buzzing. Eastside Catholic went on to win it 62-9 in front of full stands — on both sides.
“One of the highlights for me is we’re down whatever-the-score-is, and you got a whole student body here, and I’ve never seen anything like that,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “When they know the student body loves them, that’s a pretty neat thing.”
Standing under the lights, Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr looked around the stadium with a slight smile on his face, too.
“It’s Friday night football,” Thielbahr said. “Liberty is a great place — great atmosphere, great fans.”
Eastside Catholic fans were especially excited to see for the first time their new-look team that lost 24 seniors after last season.
Even as the Crusaders dominated, some early-season sloppiness showed in the form of numerous flags — mostly offside calls — thrown against Eastside Catholic.
“We got to clean a lot of stuff up,” Thielbahr said. “That’s going to get cleaned up fast.”
On Friday, it didn’t matter all that much.
The Crusaders executed regardless, recording 543 yards of total offense while holding the Patriots to 172.
Eastside Catholic running back Henry Jarvis had 170 yards rushing, with 150 of them in the first half.
Jarvis scored twice on the ground and once on a reception.
Quarterback Harley Kirsch, making only his second start in his Crusaders career, looked promising, completing 10 for 12 passes for nearly 160 yards and setting up a successful run game.
“We talk about being Game-1 ready, and we’ve got a lot of young kids, and I think we were Game-1 ready,” Thielbahr said.