By Michael Finnegan / Special Contributor
Seth Washington might have saved his best for last in his ESD career.
Washington passed for 417 yards and six touchdowns as ESD beat rival St. Mark’s 54-14 in the season finale for both teams at Jones Family Stadium.
The game was tied 14-14 two minutes into the second quarter, but the Eagles scored six unanswered touchdowns — all through the air — to run away with the victory.
It was the final high school game for Washington and fellow standout Nakeie Montgomery, who has led the Eagles in almost every offensive category during the past three seasons.
“I’m extremely proud of them both, as well as our other graduating players,” said ESD head coach Richard Williams. “Seth and Nakeie fought through injuries this year. In fact, this is the first game of the season that they shared the field together.”
The Eagles (4-6) scored on the opening possession of the game when Washington connected with Eli Dressler on a 16-yard touchdown pass to cap a long drive.
The Lions (1-8) answered immediately, tying the game on their ensuing possession when Will Forbes found Seun Omonije for a 40-yard touchdown strike.
“We’re very young,” said St. Mark’s head coach Bart Epperson. “I saw improvement throughout the season and lots of resiliency.”
The teams traded touchdowns late in the first quarter, and with the game knotted at 14-14 early in the second quarter, Washington and his receiving corps took over.
On third-and-long from the ESD 40-yard line, Washington hit Patrick Skalniak in stride for a 60-yard touchdown pass.
It was the first of four touchdowns for Skalniak, who earlier in the season filled in for the injured Washington at quarterback. The junior caught eight passes for 270 yards.
“The future is bright at ESD,” said Williams. “Our young players, including Patrick, were asked to step it up early in the season and we overcame the injury bug.”
Ahead 20-14 with 2:02 left in the first half, ESD was faced with a fourth-and-long situation at the St. Mark’s 23-yard line. Washington rolled left and spotted Montgomery in the corner of the end zone for a spectacular one-handed grab to put the Eagles on top 28-14.
ESD added another touchdown on a 36-yard reception by Skalniak to extend the lead to 34-14 just before halftime.
“Seth and Montgomery both have options at the next level,” Williams said. “Nakeie committed to Duke for lacrosse a long time ago, but he can play football at a big-time program if he chooses.”
Sophomore Luke Logan spelled Washington for much of the second half and connected on all three of his pass attempts, two of them for scores.
Forbes finished with 212 passing yards and a touchdown for St. Mark’s, while Jonathon Taylor rushed for 35 yards including a second-quarter touchdown.
ESD won its third straight game over St. Mark’s, although neither team found much success in the large-school division of the realigned SPC.