Don Bartel takes over Eastlake football team
Eastlake has a new coach – and Don Bartel is ready to restore the football program to how he remembers it. Last season, Bartel was Skyline’s defensive coordinator, helping the team to a 14-0 record and the 4A State championship.
Special to The Seattle Times
SAMMAMISH — Eastlake’s new coach, Don Bartel, wants to restore the football program to how he remembers it.
Last season, Bartel was Skyline’s defensive coordinator, helping the team to a 14-0 record and the Class 4A state championship.
Just a mile down the road, Eastlake went 3-6 while scrambling for coaches. Only two games into the season, Gene Dales resigned as the coach. Pat Parnell took over as interim coach, but the team never got back on track.
Bartel didn’t like what he saw.
“I just started to see the focus become something different, and it was frustrating to watch,” Bartel said.
He recalls the team from his last stint at Eastlake from 2005 to 2008.
“Those kids did not know what a brake pedal was. They were so fast and so committed and so tight as a group,” Bartel said.
That mentality got lost somewhere along the way.
Bartel made it clear early that he intends to re-establish the program’s identity.
“We’re going to do things our way,” Bartel said. “We don’t care what you think about it. In the end, you’re going to love watching us play.”
Along with refocusing is an aim to bring honor back to playing Eastlake football.
When Bartel took over, he inherited some talented all-league-caliber players, guys like senior running back Drew Lewis and junior quarterback Blue Thomas.
Those guys are already starting to see how they could shock people.
“I think the coaching change was great for this program,” Thomas said. “I think our new speed of play is really going to hit people in the mouth, and it’s going to be real fun to watch.”
Bartel has redefined training. Eastlake practices at a high tempo with some adversity thrown in to test players.
“A lot more focus,” Lewis said. “At our weakest point, they’re asking for the most, so when game day comes, we’re already ahead of the competition.”
Bartel wants to push his players into a new realm. His team puts in hard work so they can claim success.
And, yes, even honor.
“If it doesn’t make you want to quit, it doesn’t have value,” Bartel said. “It only has value if it’s rare. If we push it hard enough that only certain people choose to take it on, then those certain people have honor.”
Thomas likes that his coach pushes for the best out of the team every day. In fact, he thinks it’s the best thing players could ask of their new coach.
Thomas and Lewis expect to build on the performances they had last season, and they’re looking to their coach to show the way.
“I think what they see is how they really carried the load under constant fire,” Bartel said.
Bartel said that after they stopped, guys like Thomas and Lewis saw that they actually did have good seasons last year.
But, with a new system, they see they can accomplish even more.
“It’s pretty awesome that they’re not satisfied,” Bartel said. “There’s a speed of play and a way to play the game that those guys have not done on a Friday night yet, and they know that now.”