CONNELL -- The Connell defense might be the best kept secret in town.
The Eagles, who feature a balanced offensive attack led by superstar Matt Hadley, aren't generally given much credit for the other side of the ball.
That would be a mistake, though.
The Eagles have given up just 10.2 points and 222 yards per game while rolling into their second consecutive Class 1A state championship game. Connell faces Cascade Christian at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.
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"We've got a great front four," nose tackle Rex Lyle said. "We got a great secondary, and our backers are real good at flowing and filling the holes."
The Eagles defense will need to be especially sharp Saturday, as it faces a Cascade Christian team that features the two-pronged running attack of Tyler Walrath and Colton Faverty.
"You always want to feel confident," Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. "We didn't do a real good job moving the ball on them last year, but we've made a few adjustments. If we do our jobs and block, we should be able to move the ball on them.
"Am I guaranteeing that? No way. Those guys are good."
Faverty missed three games earlier this season with an ankle injury, and Walrath suffered a contusion on his lower leg that slowed him briefly, But both are healthy now.
"From what we've seen on film, they run the ball outside really well -- a power sweep," defensive end Bryant Andersen said. "I'm excited for that, because we have some of the best ends in the state. I think we can stop that.
"They have a pretty good wide receiver (Jake Archer), but our corners and safeties are pretty good as well."
Cascade Christian returns nearly everyone from last season's team that lost to the Eagles 28-7 in the final.
"We are excited," Davis said. "I definitely feel that we will be the underdog. I'm not demeaning our team at all -- we have a very good team. But they are the defending state champions. And with the little film I have on them, I think they are better than they were last year."
Walrath is averaging 112 yards on the ground per game, while quarterback Kyle Stennes averages nearly 160 yards through the air.
"The positive side is we know we can beat these guys," Andersen said. "We have confidence we can play with them, we have seen their offense before. The negative side is they really want to beat us. They will play harder than they've ever played before."
This will be the third consecutive trip to the state championship game for the Cougars, who lost to Cashmere 10-9 in 2008.
"I think it is going to be a pretty hard, smashmouth football game," Lyle said. "I think it is going to be one hell of a game. They are a real fast team. They get off the ball and we get off the ball fast. It will be a good game."