What to watch for during the opening week of the state high school football playoffs:
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
- Oh no, not you again: You could say Cascade Christian has Class 1A defending state champion Montesano’s number. The two schools have played five times since 2008 – three times in the state playoffs. The Cougars have won all of them, with three of the games decided by three points or fewer.
- Tides travel to apple country: For its Saturday afternoon tilt at Wenatchee in the Class 4A first round, Gig Harbor will depart on a bus Friday morning, hold a practice close to game-site Apple Bowl, then stay in a hotel near the stadium. “Kids are routine-oriented. Coaches are routine-oriented. We will try and simulate that as much as possible,” Tides coach Aaron Chantler said.
- Living as long shot: Since the last time Sehome won in the state playoffs – 1995 – Tumwater has won 14 playoffs games, including the Class 2A title in 2010. But the Mariners took down previously undefeated Lakewood, 35-13, last week in the district round, and look to continue their giant-killing ways Saturday.
- Humbled and hungry: Early in the season, the injury bug gnawed on Lakes. Now, 13 of their 15 injured starters have returned, and the Lancers – at 4-6 – travel to Meadowdale on Friday for a Class 3A state playoff game. “We’ve had our share of bad stuff happen, and now we have some fortunate things happening,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said.
- Powers start strong: The state powerhouses know how to start fast in the state playoffs. Five-time defending 3A champion Bellevue has won 13 consecutive state openers. Two-time defending 4A champion Skyline is 11-0 all-time in the first round. And two-time reigning 2A champion Lynden has won 10 of its past 11 first-round games.
GAMES TO WATCH
CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND
No. 8 Bothell (8-2) at No. 3 Graham-Kapowsin (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Art Crate Stadium, Spanaway
About the Cougars: Always well-coached under Tom Bainter, Bothell is one of the traditional KingCo powerhouses. And the Cougars have already gotten the best of an Eric Kurle-coached team in the state playoffs, drubbing Bethel, 31-0, in 2003. QB Ross Bowers (145-250, 2,185 yards, 20 TDs) has a quick trigger with big receivers to target.
About the Eagles: Bothell likes to play it safe on defense, dropping two safeties deep. That is OK with the Eagles, who should churn out long drives behind RB Teague James (212 carries, 1,847 yards, 29 TDs), the SPSL’s leading rusher. And Graham-Kapowsin’s offensive line should get plenty of push on smaller Bothell front.
TNT pick: Graham-Kapowsin, 35-24.
CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND
Federal Way (8-2) at No. 2 Skyline (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Skyline High School
About the Eagles: They are getting healthier, and have LB Jared Pulu back. And they seem to want to commit to getting QB Keenan Curran (101 carries, 1,173 yards, 12 TDs) going in the option run game. Like it is every week, Federal Way will test anybody’s tackling in space with Curran and RB Chico McClatcher.
About the Spartans: Almost as impressive as winning seven state football titles is their record in first-round matchups – 11-0. Even though Skyline is still running the spread offense, it is a bit more run-oriented – especially with QB Kilton Anderson (149 of 243, 1,943 yards, 14 TDs; 559 rushing yards, 10 TDs) being a rushing threat.
TNT pick: Skyline, 40-26.
CLASS 3A FIRST ROUND
Bonney Lake (5-5) at No. 9 Peninsula (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday, Roy Anderson Field, Purdy
About the Panthers: Have we met? Indeed, these two SPSL 3A rivals played earlier in the season – won 56-28 by Peninsula. Bonney Lake has averaged 222.4 rushing yards a game during its five-game winning streak – led by RBs Ethan McElderry (175 carries, 901 yards, seven TDs) and Robert Combs (74 carries, 673 yards, 16 total TDs).
About the Seahawks: Facing an opponent that has committed a league-worst 28 turnovers, Peninsula knows it will get its chances to score points. RB Avega Siolo (173 carries, 1,458 yards, 19 TDs) runs hard with purpose, but everything funnels through QB Robert Kvinsland (129 of 210, 1,830 yards, 16 TDs, three INT).
TNT pick: Peninsula, 38-27.
CLASS 2A FIRST ROUND
No. 5 W.F. West (9-1) at No. 3 Sumner (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Sunset Chev Stadium, Sumner
About the Bearcats: No quarterback in 2A presents the kind of challenge QB Tanner Gueller (142 of 233, 2,135 yards, 36 TDs) will Friday night. He is big (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), has a cannon for an arm, and will try and find WRs Bryan Moon and Toby Johnson a lot. And he can run – he has four games of 70 or more yards rushing.
About the Spartans: The biggest matchup advantage should favor Sumner’s rushing attack, led by RBs DeJon Lynch (128 carries, 1,130 yards, 15 TDs) and Brandon Tuilaepa (129 carries, 991 yards, 11 TDs), against the Bearcats’ front seven. And Sumner can defend the pass, too, with CBs Austin Ford and Jace Johnson (six INT).
TNT pick: Sumner, 31-29.