High School Sports

State semifinals: Top high school football games to watch, predictions

Sumner will play Woodinville in the 4A state football semifinals.
Sumner will play Woodinville in the 4A state football semifinals. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS

NO. 2 WOODINVILLE FALCONS (12-0)

VS. NO. 8 SUMNER SPARTANS (10-2)

5 p.m. Saturday at Sparks Stadium, Puyallup

About the Falcons: Oh yeah, they remember. The last time the 4A KingCo champions lost was nearly a year ago — to this same Sumner squad in the 4A quarterfinals (16-13). This might be the most complete defense in the state, led by DLs Quinn Schreyer (14 sacks) and Jake Baillie (12 sacks), who are fast pass rushers off the edge. QB Jaden Sheffey (147 of 241, 1,705 yards, 18 TDs; 505 rushing yards, 12 TDs) is a difficult playmaker to corral, and he has two reliable inside runners in RBs Brett Acsimus (108 carries, 889 yards, 11 TDs) and Matt Jones (139 carries, 881 yards, 11 TDs).

About the Spartans: Is this the Sumner team of destiny? With all of their playoff-tested contributors, the third-place 4A SPSL finishers are back in the state semifinals in back-to-back seasons. And you won’t find a better rushing tandem than TCU-bound Ben Wilson (160 carries, 1,167 yards, 21 TDs) and Tre Weed (136 carries, 1,082 yards, 14 TDs; 46 receptions, 701 yards, 13 TDs). A lot will be asked of both seniors to try and dent this Woodinville defense, enough to set up play-action opportunities for QB Luke Ross (140 of 231, 1,986 yards, 27 TDs, 12 INT).

TNT pick: Woodinville, 22-17.

NO. 7 CENTRAL VALLEY BEARS (10-1)

VS. NO. 1 RICHLAND BOMBERS (12-0)

1 p.m. Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium, Pasco

About the Bears: Who would have thought this was the team out of the Greater Spokane League to make a deep postseason run? What makes it even more remarkable is that dual-threat QB Grant Hannan (118 of 184, 1,326 yards, 13 TDs, six INT; 74 carries, 552 yards, 14 TDs) started the season as the backup to Matt Gabbert, who broke his collarbone in the season opener. Hannan runs Central Valley’s read-option attack to perfection, and has RB Hunter Chodorowski (118 carries, 693 yards, nine TDs) to take some of the pressure off him.

About the Bombers: This group of seniors is motivated. In 2015, Richland let a fourth-quarter lead in the 4A semifinals slip away to Gonzaga Prep, and lost. And the same thing happened in last season’s 4A title game to Camas. First-year starting QB Cade Jensen (198 of 316, 2,855 yards, 41 TDs) isn’t the dual threat 2016 standout Paxton Stevens was, but he is a deadly accurate passer. The defense, led by six all-MCC first-teamers, (and a now-healthy all-state LB Victor Strasser) is fast and ball-hawking (nine turnovers in two state playoff wins). This is a school motivated to finish its mission.

TNT pick: Richland, 28-20.

CLASS 3A SEMIFINALS

No. 1 BELLEVUE WOLVERINES (11-1)

VS. No. 4 O’DEA FIGHTING IRISH (10-1)

Noon Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium, Bothell

About the Wolverines: There is nothing more certain than death, taxes and Bellevue making the state semifinals. For 10 consecutive seasons (2006-15), the Wolverines reached the final four. And they will again ride standout RB Isaiah Ifanse (227 carries, 2,303 rush yards, 41 TDs), who rushed fro 212 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s blowout win over Timberline.

About the Fighting Irish: Similar to Bellevue, the Irish want to ground and pound, and have workhorse all-state RB Jamyn Patu (185 carries, 1,663 rush yards, 23 TDs) to carry the load. He rushed for 182 yards and scored four total TDs in the Irish’s 42-14 state quarterfinal victory over Ferndale. This is O’Dea’s third 3A semifinal trip in the past five seasons.

TNT pick: Bellevue, 37-30.

GARFIELD BULLDOGS (7-5)

VS. No. 10 RAINIER BEACH VIKINGS (8-2)

5 p.m. Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium, Bothell

About the Bulldogs: Thought important games between these schools were reserved for basketball? Guess again. For the first time in state history, two Metro League public schools will meet in the 3A football semifinals. QB Javon Tade (81 of 131, 1,413 yards, nine TDs) has all the weapons you’d want to throw it to, including Oregon commit WR Tre’Shaun Harrison (41 receptions, 954 yards, 10 TDs).

About the Vikings: Just like Garfield, this is Rainier Beach’s third trip to the 3A semifinals. QB Max Nall (165-255, 2,817 yards, 25 TDs) will look to air it out against his former team, and looks often for WR Mason Starling (73 receptions, 1,532 yards, 20 TDs), a former Frankin Pierce standout. The Vikings won the earlier regular-season matchup, 27-12.

TNT pick: Rainier Beach, 30-14.

CLASS 2A SEMIFINALS

No. 3 HOCKINSON HAWKS (12-0) VS.

No. 4 WEST VALLEY OF SPOKANE EAGLES (12-0)

Noon Saturday at Gonzaga Prep, Spokane

About the Hawks: First-timer pressure? Not when you have the Racanelli brothers leading the way for Hockinson in its first trip to the 2A semifinals. QB Canon Racanelli (218 of 304, 3,472 yards, 49 TDs; 513 rushing yards, 14 TDs) is an all-state candidate, and knows WR Sawyer Racanelli (73 receptions, 1,430 yards, 23 TDs) is reliable out on the perimeter.

About the Eagles: This is a dangerous offense, led by a stout experienced line and two dual-threat signal callers in QBs Blake Transue (71 of 132, 1,177 yards, nine TDs; 331 rushing yards, nine TDs) and Matt Allen (41 of 68, 553 yards, five TDs; 340 rushing yards, five TDs). This is West Valley’s first state semifinal appearance since 2009.

TNT pick: Hockinson, 34-20.

No. 1 ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS (11-1)

VS. No. 2 TUMWATER THUNDERBIRDS (10-2)

Noon Saturday, at Sparks Stadium, Puyallup

About the Wildcats: Can the defending state champions finish off a perfect two-year run against 2A competition? This will surely be the Wildcats’ toughest test in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game. ATM has weapons all over the place, but none are better than RB Ray Pimentel (200 carries, 2,080 yards, 28 TDs) and WR Kyler Gordon (30 receptions, 838 yards, 10 TDs; 529 rushing yards).

About the T-Birds: The 2A EvCo champions are in the state semifinals for the fifth time in the past six seasons, and need RB Dylan Paine (258 carries, 1,580 yards, 24 TDs) to help keep the explosive Wildcats’ offense on the sideline. CB Connor Clark (five INTs) is a key defensive cog, and will likely match up with Gordon on the outside. Tumwater handed the Wildcats their last 2A loss, 24-21, in the 2015 semifinals.

TNT pick: Archbishop Murphy, 29-21.

CLASS 1A SEMIFINALS

No. 10 NEWPORT GRIZZLIES (11-1)

VS. No. 1 ROYAL KNIGHTS (12-0)

1 p.m. Saturday at Lions Field, Moses Lake

About the Grizzlies: This is truly one of the best stories remaining in the postseason. Newport was the 1A Northeast runner-up to Colville, but reached the state playoffs for the first time in 25 years. QB Koa Pancho (93 of 143, 1,271 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INT, 817 rushing yards, 19 TDs) is the dual threat the Grizzlies need to have a big game to post an upset.

About the Knights: The two-time defending state champs boast a 39-game winning streak (10th-longest in the country), including a run of 22 consecutive wins against 1A schools. Yes, they are the team to beat. QB Sawyer Jenks (119 of 192, 2,420 yards, 37 TDs, four INTs) has picked up where older brother, Kaden, left off before heading to Weber State.

TNT pick: Royal, 28-17

No. 9 LA CENTER WILDCATS (9-2)

VS. No. 2 MERIDIAN TROJANS (12-0)

4 p.m. Saturday at Civic Stadium, Bellingham

About the Wildcats: La Center has done something it has never done – reach the state semifinals in back-to-back seasons. The Wildcats have a massive offensive line, led by 1A Trico MVP Jack Hillier. That should open holes for RB Wyatt Dodson (204 carries, 1,450 yards, 15 TDs) in the wing-T offense. QB Hayden Williamson (90 of 157, 1,357 yds, 16 TDs, two INTs) can also make plays.

About the Trojans: Northwest powerhouse Meridian has had some dandy QBs play for longtime coach Bob Ames, and QB Simon Burkett (210 of 371, 2,668 yards, 22 TDs; 544 rushing yards, nine TDs) is the latest standout. He has passed for 7,083 yards and 74 TDs in his career. RB Tony Schleimer (421 carries, 2,146 yards, 28 TDs) is also a big part of the offense.

TNT pick: Meridan, 14-13.

CLASS 2B SEMIFINALS

No. 1 KALAMA CHINOOKS (12-0)

VS. No. 3 NAPAVINE TIGERS (11-1)

7 p.m. Saturday at Centralia High School

About the Chinooks: Is this the team to officially end Napavine’s longstanding run to the state title game? If the regular season is an indicator, it might be as the Chinooks defeated the Tigers, 14-8, in overtime. QB Alex Dyer (186 of 227, 2,572 yards, 37 TDs) will put it up early and often in this high-powered offense. Kalama’s last semifinal trip was 1999.

About the Tigers: The defending state champions are vying to advance to their fouth consecutive 1A title game. And they still have a Stanley at the helm of the offense — QB Dawson Stanely (93 of 169, 1,610 yards, 26 TDs), whose brother, Wyatt, led the team to the state title a year ago over Liberty of Spangle. This is the Tigers’ 10th state playoff trip in a row.

TNT pick: Kalama, 28-20

ASOTIN PANTHERS (9-3) VS.

NO. 2 LIBERTY (SPANGLE) LANCERS (12-0)

3 p.m. Saturday at Gonzaga Prep, Spokane

About the Panthers: Can Asotin turn the tables? In last year’s state semifinals, the Panthers lost to Liberty, 20-13. RB Colton Ball (209 carries, 1,623 yds, 23 TDs) is the workhorse of the offense, but QB Josh Wilkinson (86 of 117, 1,247 yds, 16 TDs, eight INTs) can keep defenses from stacking the box. Asotin won the 2B title in 2006.

About the Lancers: On paper, this looks like a mismatch in Liberty’s favor as the 2B Northwest champion facing a third-place team from its own league. The Lancers have firepower everywhere, including QB Alec Fletcher (117 of 188, 1,806 yards, 21 TDs, two INTs) and RB James Heer (206 carries, 1,678 yards, 27 TDs). Liberty won the regular-season matchup, 21-14.

TNT pick: Liberty, 24-14.

CLASS 1B SEMIFINALS

No. 2 ODESSA-HARRINGTON TIGERS (11-0) VS. No. 1 SUNNYSIDE CHRISTIAN KNIGHTS (12-0)

4 p.m. Saturday at Edgar Brown Stadium, Pasco

About the Tigers: Odessa-Harrington won a wild semifinal game against this team last season (42-40), and now must win again to advance to its fourth state title game. QB Camden Weber (52 of 69, 1,035 yards, 15 TDs; 709 rushing yards, 17 TDs) and RB Gaven Elder (105 carries, 1,004 yards, 17 TDs) make a potent backfield.

About the Knights: Can anyone slow this offensive juggernaut down? Sunnyside Christian has topped 60 points in nine consecutive games, and have Marsh siblings all over the field - QB Chance Marsh (125 of 198, 2,455 yards, 42 TDs), RB Kyler Marsh (95 carries, 1,214 rush yards, 16 TDs) and WR Lane Marsh (64 receptions, 1,168 yards, 20 TDs).

TNT pick: Sunnyside Christian, 50-40.

No. 4 ALMIRA-COULEE/HARTLINE WARRIORS (10-2) VS. LUMMI NATION BLACKHAWKS (9-3)

1 p.m. Saturday at Civic Stadium, Bellingham

About the Warriors: Maybe this is an omen. Back in 2007, ACH won the 1B title — and defeated Lummi at this juncture (80-50). Maguire Isaak (79 of 116, 1,628 yards, 32 TDs) has taken over quarterback duties this season, picking up where his brother, Dallas Isaak, left off. He has also rushed for 1,106 yards and 16 TDs.

About the Blackhawks: You come to expect Lummi will be in the championship mix. The Blackhawks are in the state semifinals for a sixth consecutive season, and QB Dashawn Lawrence and the offense are rolling. They rolled up 601 yards in a 62-42 quarterfinal win over Tacoma Baptist, with Lawrence rushing for 153 yards, and passing for 208.

TNT pick: ACH, 21-17.

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