Competitive balance was an issue long before the Archbishop Murphy football team’s dominating run to a 2A state title.
And long before the Wildcats outscored their nine opponents, 463-44, including a 56-14 victory over previously unbeaten Liberty of Issaquah for the title on Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.
But it appears it could be the tipping point to spark changes to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s structure regarding competitive balance.
WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said on Saturday in the Dome that at least three districts will meet over the next month to discuss competitive balance and scheduling for next year and that every district will be represented in a February meeting.
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Colbrese said of his reaction following the 2A state title game:
“I’m going, ‘This isn’t the way we want the state championship to be,’ ” Colbrese said. “You got a real good ball club in Archbishop Murphy, but nobody wants a state championship ballgame coming down to that.”
He said one amendment that he’s certain will be presented to the WIAA’s 53-member representative voting assembly would allow schools to opt up or down a classification in football only. It would require 60 percent of votes to pass.
This issue certainly didn’t start with Archbishop Murphy, though the five schools in its 2A/1A Cascade Conference that forfeited to it during the regular season certainly seemed to most spark the discussion of competitive balance, Colbrese said.
It’s the most he’s heard the issue discussed.
“And most people are asking for change faster,” he said. “And, quite honestly, I think they have every right to expect change, and to our member schools’ credit, they are jumping on it.
“Nobody on either side is a winner when kids can’t play a ballgame that they should have been able to play. Whether you are wearing the black and red of Archbishop Murphy or the black and orange of Granite Falls — the kids lose every time.”
He said the hope would be to make changes for as early as the next football season. And that the changes could eventually impact other sports as well.
The discussions could also spark changes to the WIAA’s structure, possibly looking at allowing the state’s nongoverning body for high school sports to have more control over assigning leagues and classifications.
“We’re going to have to decide what is the true culture of this state and how flexible this state is going to be with that culture,” Colbrese said. “Because the only way to fix this — in football the safety piece and competitive equity — is to give up or really stretch that rubber band on the leagues being the foundation.”
EASTERN WASHINGTON TAKEOVER
No Eastern Washington school had won a 3A state football title since the turn of the century.
That is until Kamiakin of Kennewick edged top-ranked and unbeaten O’Dea, 14-7, in overtime on Friday for its first state title in school history.
Western Washington schools had won 15 consecutive 3A state titles.
This came after Eastern Washington schools won five state titles across the six classifications last year, including Gonzaga Prep in 4A and Prosser in 2A. Royal won its second straight 1A state title on Saturday.
The big-school classifications have been a Western Washington thing. Eastern Washington schools have won 27 percent of the 2A, 3A and 4A titles since 2000, but have won 71 percent of the 1A, 2B and 1B titles in that span.
The News Tribune’s staff writers voted on the game MVPs of the state title games. In order of games:
2B – Wyatt Stanley, Napavine. The senior quarterback was 15 of 27 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns and he also ran for two touchdowns in the Tigers’ 34-16 win.
3A – Darreon Moore, Kamiakin. The senior wide receiver and defensive back caught a 53-yard touchdown pass to tie the game in the fourth quarter and was part of a defense that held O’Dea to a season-low seven points in a 14-7 overtime victory.
1A – Kaden Jenks, Royal. Senior quarterback threw for 246 yards and ran for another 146 in leading the Knights to their second straight state title with a 25-10 win over Connell.
1B – Cameron Buzzell, Neah Bay. The senior had eight carries for 168 yards and three touchdowns, threw a pass for 32 yards and caught a 59-yard pass for a touchdown.
2A – Connor Johnson, Archbishop Murphy. The Wilcats attacked Liberty through the air, with Johnson completing 10 of 12 passes for 356 yards and tying a 2A Gridiron Classic record with five touchdowns.
4A – Jack Colletto, Camas. The senior quarterback completed 14 of 19 passes for 184 yards and a touchdown and also ran for 88 yards and a touchdown to lift the Papermakers to their first state title.
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677