High School Sports

State first round: Games to watch


No. 6 Graham-Kapowsin (9-1) at No. 7 Gig Harbor (9-1)

7 p.m. Saturday, Roy Anderson Field, Gig Harbor

About the Eagles: Graham-Kapowsin loves its ground game, and who wouldn’t with an anchor at left tackle like 6-foot-6, 310-pound Foster Sarell. RB Shannon Edwards (202 carries, 1,815 yards, 25 TDs) has filled in nicely for since graduated All-Area RB Teague James (2,055 rushing yards, 29 TDs last year). If the Eagles can set the tone on the ground early, that could create plays over the top for QB Trevor Asbjornsen (109 of 188, 1,760 yards, 13 TDs). But even with those playmakers, coach Eric Kurle says LB Daniel Lorenz is probably team’s best player.

About the Tides: Coach Aaron Chantler is happy to be back in the state playoffs, but he still has a sour taste in his mouth from last year’s first-round exit, when the Tides fell 33-31 to Wenatchee. Key to advancing to the Tacoma Dome is stopping the run, which they’ve been able to do this season behind DL Brandon Schmunk (Chantler says they allow 70.1 yards on the ground per game). QB Davis Alexander (132 of 216, 2,025 yards, 17 TDs; 100 carries, 797 yards, 14 TDs) is unlikely to have one of his go-to targets this week in WR Santana Johnson, but that should create more opportunities for WR Noah Samsen (30 catches, 542 yards, four TDs) and the rest of the receiving corps.

TNT pick: Gig Harbor, 33-30


No. 3 O’Dea (9-1) at No. 6 Lincoln (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday, Lincoln Bowl, Tacoma

About the Fighting Irish: If you haven’t heard of UW-bound RB Myles Gaskin (109 carries, 1,567 yards, 23 TDs), know he’s really good. He had six carries against Kelso last week … and four touchdowns. And 235 rushing yards. So that will be a focus for Lincoln. On the other side, O’Dea coach Monte Kohler said he’s faced a few spread teams like the Abes this year, but none that get the ball into the end zone as often as Lincoln. Captain and three-year starting DL Dylan Ledbetter (71 tackles, 14 tackles for loss) will be key to slowing them down, leading an Irish defense that has allowed just 6.4 points per game (second-fewest in 3A only to six-time reigning state champion Bellevue’s 5.9).

About the Abes: No offense has been as high-scoring as Lincoln. Only eight-man 1B teams have scored more than its 518 points. QB Jordan Kitna (189 of 294, 3,284 yards, 49 TDs) has thrown more touchdown passes than any quarterback in the state and has the 15th most of any in the country, according to MaxPreps. And he has a dynamic receiving threat in WR Jayson Williams (51 catches, 984 yards, 10 TDs), who Kitna says reminds him of Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant. He might know about that, considering Bryant was one of his dad’s targets when Jon Kitna was the quarterback for Big D. And now the Abes are in the state tournament for the first time since 2003.

TNT pick: O’Dea, 30-28


No. 8 River Ridge (9-1) at No. 3 Lynden (9-1)

7 p.m. Saturday, Civic Stadium, Bellingham

About the Hawks: River Ridge is expecting noise in Bellingham. Coach Steve Schultz has been piping in noise during practices this week, saying he’s got on a loudspeaker and yelled “OHHHH!” as loud as he can. That led to a few phone calls the athletic director had to take from around the neighborhood. “He told me it needs to be even louder tonight,” Schultz said. QB Kobe Key (78 of 125, 1,275 yards, 22 TDs) has really come around as of late and DL Isaiah Bird (38 tackles, three sacks) has been stout all year in the middle. K Chris Behnke (6 for 6 field goals, 54 for 56 extra points) has been as reliable a kicker as any in the Puget Sound. The Hawks could make a lot of noise with a victory.

About the Lions: Nine consecutive years. That’s the streak Lynden extended this year by making the state playoffs, and they look to push an incredible state title run to four consecutive years. But invincible? No. The Lions rolled past winless Shorecrest last week, but their previous four games had been decided by an average of 3.5 points, including a 37-35 loss to Ferndale to snap their 33-game win streak. QB Sterling Somers (140 of 218, 2,232 yards, 28 TDs; 113 carries, 427 yards, seven TDs) has been great in his junior year and connected with WR Jordan Wittenberg (69 catches, 1,103 yards, 10 TDs) for three scores last week.

TNT pick: Lynden, 27-21


No. 5 Hockinson (10-0) at No. 9 North Kitsap (10-0)

7 p.m. Saturday, North Kitsap High School, Poulsbo

The skinny: Two teams with troubled pasts have been lights out this season. Both these unbeaten teams have held opponents to fewer than 10 points per game. Jeff Weible was a former player at North Kitsap, was hired as an assistant in 2005, took over in 2011 and now has the Vikings in the state tournament for the first time since the turn of the century. Hockinson has never reached this point, and wouldn’t have this year either if not for the 2A Greater St. Helens league champs scoring 24 points in the final 10 minutes to storm past Black Hills, 24-21, last week. It’s been an emotional ride for Hawks coach Rick Steele, who’s now here after starting with the program in 2004, having to resign in 2012 because of his firefighting job, and getting hired back this past spring.

TNT pick: Hockinson, 14-10