High School Sports

State semifinals: High school football games of the week, predictions

Puyallup’s Ben Schumock (55) lets out a yell as Puyallup players celebrate their win against Mount Si. Puyallup played Mount Si in a football game at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Wash., on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.
Puyallup’s Ben Schumock (55) lets out a yell as Puyallup players celebrate their win against Mount Si. Puyallup played Mount Si in a football game at Mount Si High School in Snoqualmie, Wash., on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. joshua.bessex@gateline.com

Previews and predictions for every high school football game to watch in the state semifinals this weekend.

Note: Ranking numbers are seeds as assigned by the WIAA state playoffs seeding committees.



5:30 p.m. Saturday, Pop Keeney Stadium, Bothell

About the Vikings: There’s a reason Lake Stevens boasts the highest scoring offense in 4A. The Vikings, who average just shy of 50 points per game, and haven’t scored less than 45 in their first three playoff games, are loaded with weapons. QB Tre Long (153 of 208, 2,405 yards; 61 carries, 398 yards; 40 total TDs) is consistent with his arm and his feet. RB Dallas Landeros (154 carries, 1,200 yards, 12 total TDs) averages 129.5 all-purpose yards per game, and WR Kasen Kinchen (35 catches, 903 yards, 13 total TDs) is a breakaway threat. But, can Lake Stevens break a long title-game drought? The Vikings haven’t been since 1994, and have never won it all.

About the Falcons: Woodinville graduated most of its top talent — including Cade Beresford (Washington State) and Nash Fouch (Montana) — after last year’s runner-up finish. But, the Falcons are still in position to make back-to-back title games behind their now famous “Dark Side” defense, which allows a classification-best 12 points per game. QB Noah Stifle (119 of 205, 1,771 yards; 83 carries, 557 yards; 21 total TDs) pilots the other side of the ball, aided by a pair of trusted running backs in Joey Johnson (183 carries, 1,012 yards, eight TDs) and Nolan Downs (123 carries, 823 yards, 11 total TDs). WR Cage Shenck (24 catches, 609 yards, nine total TDs) also impacts special teams, averaging 29.7 yards per kickoff return. Woodinville has never won a title, losing in both championship game appearances to Richland (2017) and Skyline (2005).

TNT pick: Woodinville, 30-27


1 p.m. Saturday, McKenzie Stadium, Vancouver

About the Vikings: Puyallup is the only remaining team in the 4A bracket that has a state title in its history — but that was back in 1987. The Vikings have come up short of another championship in each of their 10 trips to the state playoffs since. Could trip No. 11 be different? Puyallup’s potent offense — which averages 454.8 yards per game — certainly indicates it could. QB Jacob Holcomb (193 of 277, 2,944 yards; 109 carries, 674 yards; 50 total TDs) leads a balanced attack that has averaged 52.3 points in three playoff games so far. LB Danny Uluilakepa, who has a classification-leading 160 tackles, leads Puyallup’s sound defense, which allows 16.8 points per game.

About the Titans: Union and Puyallup are separated by just seven points this season. These two programs met in Week 5 at the same location, and the Titans rallied with a 21-point fourth quarter to win 38-31, handing the Vikings their only loss of the season so far. Sure, it’s tough to beat a team twice, but Union has the explosive talent to end Puyallup’s season. WR/DB Darien Chase (60 catches, 878 yards, 13 TDs), a Nebraska commit, is a threat in all phases, while Division I prospects QB Lincoln Victor (139 of 200, 1,934 yards; 65 carries, 631 yards; 27 total TDs) and RB JoJo Siofele (107 carries, 763 yards; 42 catches, 581 yards; 14 total TDs) pace the backfield. Union lost in its only title-game appearance against Bellevue in 2008. The Titans’ last two state-playoff appearances in 2017 (Sumner) and 2014 (Federal Way) were ended by South Sound teams in the opening round.

TNT pick: Union, 40-37



2 p.m. Saturday, Skyline High School, Sammamish

About the Thunder: Mountain View hasn’t advanced this far since 2002, and has never made it out of the semifinals. But, the Thunder are on an 11-game winning streak, losing just once in their opener, 17-14, to 4A’s top-seeded Union. Since then, Mountain View has allowed more than one touchdown to just one other team — Evergreen of Vancouver scored twice, but the Thunder won 55-14. The Thunder’s defense allows a classification-best 6.7 points per game, has shut out three teams, and allowed just a single touchdown or field goal to six more opponents. Mountain View also has the top offense in 3A, averaging 45.4 pointer per game, led by QB Garrett Moen (142 of 217, 2,554 yards; 96 carries, 638 yards; 33 total TDs) and RB Jack Mertens (142 carries, 1,502 yards; 18 catches, 368 yards; 25 total TDs).

About the Fighting Irish: This is familiar territory for O’Dea. In their 14 appearances in the semifinals in program history, the Irish have advanced out of this round eight times, and have won four titles — including last year’s 3A championship rout of Rainier Beach, a program Mountain View edged, 7-6, in last week’s quarterfinals — with longtime coach Monte Kohler. The Irish have nine players with triple-digit rushing numbers this season, led by a running back duo of Mark Tafia (92 carries, 724 yards, 10 TDs) and Cameron Daniels (99 carries, 633 yards, 15 TDs). LB Ruperake Fuavi (83 tackles, five for losses) and DB Mishael Powell (five INT) lead a defense that allows 13.2 points per game.

TNT pick: O’Dea, 20-14


1 p.m. Saturday, Pop Keeney Stadium, Bothell

About the Wolverines: Bellevue has run into Eastside Catholic six times in the state playoffs — five times since 2011 — and has lost just once, in the 3A state title game in 2015. The Wolverines are 10-time state champions — 12 if you count the titles they vacated for recruiting violations — and are 14-2 all-time in the semifinals. If there’s any program that can run with this Crusaders team — which is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 127 in the nation by MaxPreps — it’s probably Bellevue. A trio of running backs in Alex Reid (229 carries, 1,497 yards, 14 TDs), Drew Fowler (97 carries, 750 yards, 18 TDs) and Joby Schneider (121 carries, 717 yards, three TDs) lead the Wolverines’ vaunted wing-T offense, which has six backs with more than 300 yards this season, and nine backs who have scored. All 52 of Bellevue’s offensive touchdowns this season have come on the ground.

About the Crusaders: The question remains the same each week — can anyone in the state beat this Eastside Catholic team loaded with Division I recruits? The Crusaders’ only loss came in Week 1, 35-12, to Oaks Christian of California, which is ranked 10th nationally. No team in Washington has come closer than three possessions of Eastside Catholic. 3A Metro League rival O’Dea, the defending 3A state champion, handed the Crusaders their closest margin of victory in state, but the Irish still lost by 18 points. RB Sam Adams (72 carries, 845 yards; 10 catches, 203 yards; 21 total TDs) has 29 FBS offers and averages 141.5 all-purpose yards per game on a team with plenty of talent. LB J.T. Tuimoloau, who is the nation’s top recruit in the 2021 class and has 12 offers, has a team-leading six sacks.

TNT pick: Eastside Catholic, 40-23



1 p.m. Saturday, Sparks Stadium, Puyallup

About the Lions: This will be the second week in a row Lynden has seen the wing-T after pulling off a 28-27 win over perennial 2A powerhouse Tumwater last week in Bellingham. So, the Lions should be plenty ready for all of the backfield trickery. Pair that with Lynden’s rich history in the playoffs — eight state titles and six in 2A since 2006 — and the Lions are in good position to return to the finals in the Tacoma Dome for the first time since 2014. Lynden is 12-6 all-time in the semifinals, and has won eight state games in a row against Pierce County teams, last losing to Lakes in 1997 in the 3A opening round. This season, the Lions feature a two-quarterback rotation with James Marsh (64 of 109, 994 yards; 103 carries, 509 yards; six catches, 140 yards; 24 total TDs) and Brock Heppner (45 of 72, 725 yards; 73 carries, 414 yards; 18 catches, 177 yards; 19 total TDs) and a defense that allows 15.2 points per game.

About the Trojans: Fife is in the semifinals for the first time in program history, and hasn’t lost since its season-opener against Rainier Beach, which was a 3A state quarterfinals team. The Trojans have consistently silenced doubts with a 2A SPSL title win over an explosive Steilacoom team in Week 9, and last last week’s shut out of second-seeded Black Hills, which was averaging 42.3 points per game entering the quarterfinals. Fife coach Kent Nevin and QB Gannon Ginnis (44 of 93, 652 yards; 164 carries, 1,011 yards; 30 total TDs) are well aware of the underdog tag the Trojans have been given this season proudly, but continue to prove they’re a team to beat. Ginnis is a star for Fife in all three phases, has 37 tackles and three interceptions at free safety, a punting average of 43 yards, and a career-long 82-yard boot that ranks sixth in the nation in distance according to MaxPreps.

TNT pick: Lynden, 27-21


4 p.m. Saturday, McKenzie Stadium, Vancouver

About the Patriots: In four semifinals appearances in program history so far, the Patriots have never lost, most recently advancing to the 2A title game in 2016, before running into an Archbishop Murphy buzzsaw that easily went undefeated that season. This year’s Liberty squad features RB/LB Jacob Thoreson (90 carries, 638 yards; 35 catches, 736 yards; 13 total TDs), who leads the Patriots in rushing, receiving and tackles (108). He also averages 34.4 yards per punt, and has pinned teams inside their own 20 eight times this season. QB Sam Brown (90 of 139, 1,552 yards; 89 carries, 240 yards; 23 total TDs) is another consistent threat in Liberty’s balanced offense, which has three backs with significant carries averaging more than 7 yards per touch. The Patriots’ defense allows 12.8 points per game — the best average of any remaining 2A team.

About the Hawks: Hockinson is one win away from a second consecutive trip to the Tacoma Dome after holding off a surging Steilacoom team — which has one of the state’s best all-purpose players in sophomore Emeka Egbuka — in last week’s quarterfinals. WR/LB Sawyer Racanelli (88 catches, 1,414 yards, 26 total TDs; 62 tackles, five sacks, two INT) averages an impressive 163 all-purpose yards per game, and is on the cusp of leading the state in receiving for the second consecutive season. Racanelli’s counterpart WR Peyton Brammer (56 catches, 1,013 yards, 20 TDs) is just as explosive, and QB Levi Crum (230 of 348, 3,385 yards; 82 carries, 448 yards; 55 total TDs) is nearing Kennedy Catholic’s Sam Huard’s state-best passing mark of 4,165 yards.

TNT pick: Hockinson, 37-24



4 p.m. Saturday, Lions Field, Moses Lake

About the Lyncs: Lynden Christian is undefeated when QB Trajan Schouten (130 of 214, 1,531 yards, 19 TDs in 10 games) is on the field. Schouten leads an almost perfectly balanced Lyncs offense — Lynden Christian averages 172 passing yards per game with 23 touchdowns, and 137.9 rushing yards per game with 23 touchdowns — that also includes RB Levi Korthuis (213 carries, 951 yards, 12 TDs) and WR Tanner Feenstra (40 catches, 612 yards, seven TDs). Linebackers Will Faber (87 tackles, four sacks) and Sam Faber (67 tackles, three forced fumbles) pace a defense that allows just 10.8 points per game. Lynden Christian hasn’t advanced out of the state semifinals since the program won its only state title in 1997.

About the Grizzlies: This is the second consecutive year Newport has made it to this round, and the opponent isn’t quite as daunting this time — last year the Grizzlies ran into three-time defending state champion Royal. RB Danny Bradburry (166 carries, 1,072 yards, 16 TDs) is the top rusher in a run-heavy offense that averages 192.5 yards per game on the ground. DL Jacob Tanner has a team-high eight sacks for a defense that allows just 8.4 points per game, and has held six opponents this season to a touchdown or less. Newport’s only loss this season is to another 1A state semifinals team — Colville in Week 7.

TNT pick: Lynden Christian, 35-27


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

About the Indians: This is the second time in school history the Indians have advanced to the semifinals. Their only other appearance came in 2014, when they topped Cascade of Leavenworth, only to lose by a single point to Cascade Christian in the 1A title game. Colville has won nine games in a row after back-to-back losses against Cheney and Meridian to open the season, but avenged the earlier loss to the Trojans with a 42-22 victory in last week’s quarterfinals. Colville has the second-highest scoring offense (38.8 points per game) of remaining 1A teams, but three-year starting QB John Knight — who has 1,398 passing yards and 15 TDs this season — and the Indians have a tall task against Royal.

About the Knights: Royal hasn’t lost since 2014, is the three-time defending 1A state champion, and is currently tied with Caledonia of Minnesota for the longest active winning streak in the nation at 53 games. The Knights are averaging a classification-best 56.1 points per game this season behind QB Sawyer Jenks (129 of 212, 2,353 yards, 33 TDs), RB Alonso Hernandez (147 carries, 1,343 yards, 31 TDs) and WR Angel Farias (44 catches, 909 yards, 12 TDs). Royal’s defense has allowed 33 — yes, really — points to opponents this season, just 2.8 per game, and has shut out seven teams. Royal’s closest margin of victory this season is a 27-point win over 2A quarterfinals qualifier Ellensburg in Week 1.

TNT pick: Royal, 40-17



1 p.m. Saturday, Tumwater District Stadium

About the Indians: RB Ethan Buck (127 carries, 889 yards, 11 TDs) leads a backfield that averages 278.7 rushing yards per game, and is one of three running backs for Toledo with more than 600 rushing yards this season. DL Hunter Eaton (12.5 sacks) and LB Fano-Arceo Hansen (7.5 sacks) pace the Indians’ defense, which is allowing 13 points per game. This is the third time in program history the Indians have advanced to the semifinals, and first time since 2014, when they lost to perennial 2B power Napavine. Each of Toledo’s four losses this season have come against 2B Central League opponents — including the three other teams remaining in this 2B bracket.

About the Chinooks: Kalama is the defending 2B state champion, and already has a 32-13 win over Toledo earlier this season in league play, though this is the first time the programs have met in the state playoffs since 1980. Chinooks QB Alex Dyer (160 of 228, 2,368 yards, 40 TDs) is the reigning 2B state player of the year, and WR Brennon Vance, a dual-threat who is also used in the running game, is his top target. Last year’s title win over Liberty of Spangle was Kalama’s second in school history — the Chinooks also won it all in 1998. Kalama has earlier wins over two teams left in the bracket — Toledo and Napavine — and a loss to Adna.

TNT pick: Kalama, 30-24


4 p.m. Saturday, Tumwater District Stadium

About the Tigers: Napavine won it all in 2016, and is in the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season, with a chance to return to the finals in the Tacoma Dome for the fourth time in five years. QB Dawson Stanley has 3,316 yards of total offense and 43 touchdowns this season, while Laythan Demarest leads the Tigers in rushing (491 yards, six TDs) and receiving (630 yards, seven TDs). Napavine has six players with more than 100 rushing yards this season, and seven players with more than 100 receiving yards. The Tigers lost their Week 5 meeting with Adna, 50-13, but are on a seven-game winning streak since.

About the Pirates: Adna boasts the best defense in 2B, allowing just 7.5 points per game with five shutouts, led by linebackers Abel Ingle (135 tackles) and Chance Fay (125 tackles). Defending 2B champion Kalama came the closest to topping the Pirates this season, but Adna still won that early-season tilt by two possessions. The Chinooks’ offense averages 42.3 points per game behind QB Braden Thomas (67 of 109, 943 yards; 97 carries, 844 yards; 28 total TDs) and running backs Cole Fay (87 carries, 760 yards, 11 total TDs) and Chance Fay (63 carries, 617 yards, 17 total TDs). Adna hasn’t advanced out of the semifinals since its most recent title win in 2009.

TNT pick: Adna, 35-24



1 p.m. Saturday, Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

About the Comets: Naselle dropped to 1B to play eight-man football in 2014, but hadn’t won a state playoff game in the classification until last week’s 68-38 rout of Lyle-Wishram in the quarterfinals. The best finish in program history for the Comets came in 2008, when they advanced to the semifinals as an 11-man team, but Naselle has never played for a title. QB Cole Dorman has nearly 2,400 passing yards and 37 touchdowns this season, with WR Ethan Lindstrom, who has 15 touchdown catches, as his top target. The Comets average 56.1 points per game.

About the Warriors: QB Maguire Isaak (45 of 67, 1,341 yards; 61 carries, 687 yards; 36 total TDs) is the reigning 1B state player of the year, and had 611 total yards and 12 touchdowns in the Warriors’ state title win over Sunnyside Christian last season. RB Hayden Loomis (51 carries, 980 yards; 16 catches, 509 yards; 27 total TDs) leads the Warriors in rushing, while WR Gage Burchill (16 catches, 546 yards, nine TDs) is Isaak’s top receiving target. Brayton Schaefer leads the Warriors with 75 tackles, while Burchill (53 tackles, four fumble recoveries, three INT) and Loomis (45 tackles, eight INT, three fumble recoveries) are also impact players on defense. Almira-Coulee-Hartline’s only loss this season is to top-seeded Odessa.

TNT pick: Almira-Coulee-Hartline, 60-30


4 p.m. Saturday, Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

About the Rangers: Apart from Odessa, Quilcene is the only other remaining undefeated team in 1B, and averages 51.7 points per game behind RB Olin Reynolds (87 carries, 1,226 yards, 25 TDs), who averages more than 14 yards per carry, and has also scored four times on punt returns, and twice on interception returns. TE/DL Robert Comstock III (27 catches, 588 yards; 126 tackles, 12 sacks; 16 total TDs) is a force for the Rangers on both sides of the ball, and has three defensive scores, while OL/DL Zach Budnek (133 tackles, nine sacks) anchors Quilcene’s line on both sides. Quilcene is 15-0 with QB Holdem Elkins as its starter behind center.

About the Tigers: Odessa has the best offense (72.3 pointer per game) and defense (7.3 points per game) in 1B this season, and has scored at least eight touchdowns in each of its wins. The Tigers’ closest margin of victory came in Week 6, when the routed Almira-Coulee-Hartline, 56-22. RB/LB Marcus King (72 carries, 1,147 yards; 15 catches, 596 yards; 38 total TDs) leads the Tigers in rushing and receiving, and has a team-leading 70 tackles and 3.5 added sacks. QB Camden Webber (45 of 53, 1,387 yards; 15 carries, 309 yards; 30 total TDs) pilots the offense. Odessa has advanced to six title games in its history, and won it all in 1989 and 1993.

TNT pick: Odessa, 56-24

Lauren Smith covers the Seattle Mariners for The News Tribune. She previously covered high school sports at TNT and The Olympian, beginning in 2015. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Emerald Ridge High School.