Home USA News Previews for South Sound football teams in state playoffs first round

Previews for South Sound football teams in state playoffs first round

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The high school football state playoffs begin this week in Washington.

Of the 88 programs that advanced to the brackets in the state’s six classifications, 18 — including five teams in 4A, four in 3A, five in 2A, three in 1A and one in 1B — will represent the South Sound in games this weekend.

Here’s a look at each first-round game featuring a South Sound team.

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Kennedy Catholic tail back Xe’Ree Alexander (24) celebrates after making a tackle in the fourth quarter of a game at Auburn Memorial Stadium in Auburn, Wash. on Oct. 6, 2022. Kennedy Catholic defeated Auburn Riverside 47-17. Cheyenne Boone Cheyenne Boone / The News Tribun

CLASS 4A

No. 11 Skyview Storm (8-2) vs. No. 6 Graham-Kapowsin Eagles (8-2)

4 p.m. Saturday, Art Crate Field, Spanaway

Defending 4A state champion Graham-Kapowsin beat Mount Si convincingly last week in the district round, 35-14, despite the poor weather. Fullback Michael Toa (team-leading six rushing TDs) rushed for three scores and is a legitimate weapon in short-yardage situations. QB Daveon Superales (145-of-212 passing, 1,719 yards, 17 TDs) looks more comfortable every week and WR Jabez Woods (44 catches, 640 yards, eight TDs) has been his go-to target in the passing game. Skyview has been balanced offensively, and rode its defense to a 14-11 win over another 4A SPSL program in Puyallup in the district round.

TNT pick: Graham-Kapowsin, 35-21

No. 14 Woodinville Falcons (5-5) vs. No. 3 Sumner Spartans (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Sunset Chev Stadium, Sumner

Woodinville will feel it has nothing to lose after pulling off the biggest upset of the week statewide last week, beating a Glacier Peak program that spent much of the season as a top-ranked team in 4A. The Falcons are on a three-game winning streak, picking up wins over North Creek, Skyline and then Glacier Peak in the district round. They’ll face a different beast this week, though, with Sumner boasting one of the state’s top offensive lines, and RB Matthew Spurbeck (218 carries, 1,710 yards, 17 TDs) putting up massive numbers in the backfield. Sumner has won seven consecutive games since falling to Emerald Ridge — which is also in the 4A bracket — in September.

TNT pick: Sumner, 34-19

No. 12 Federal Way Eagles (8-2) vs. No. 5 Skyline Spartans (7-2)

5:30 p.m. Saturday, Skyline High School, Sammamish

That’s the Federal Way team we’ve been waiting to see. The talents of the Eagles’ vaunted secondary were on full display against Curtis, returning a pair of interceptions for touchdowns in the 37-17 win. It’s Federal Way’s first trip to the state bracket since 2014. Oregon State commit Andre Jordan Jr. is one of the South Sound’s top two-way playmakers and four-star recruit Rahshawn Clark has big-play ability. Skyline has had a better season than expected, posting wins over Eastlake, Mount Si, Bothell and North Creek, but only twice this season have the Spartans scored more than 20 points.

TNT pick: Federal Way, 24-21

No. 13 Richland Bombers (6-4) vs. No. 4 Kennedy Catholic Lancers (9-1)

4 p.m. Saturday, Highline Memorial Stadium, Burien

This Richland offense can move the ball — the Bombers are averaging 31.4 points per game. So too though, can Kennedy Catholic, behind both its Air Raid and Wing-T looks. RB/LB Xe’ree Alexander (13 total TDs, 60 tackles), an Arizona State commit, is a force on both sides of the ball. WR Mason Hayes (51 catches, 1,008 yards, 14 TDs) and WR Maclane Watkins (42 catches, 776 yards, 11 TDs) have been the top receiving threats for the Lancers’ two quarterbacks.

TNT pick: Kennedy Catholic, 42-28

No. 9 Eastlake Wolves (8-2) vs. No. 8 Emerald Ridge Jaguars (8-2)

7 p.m. Saturday, Sparks Stadium, Puyallup

Emerald Ridge blew the doors off perennial 4A power Bothell in a 41-14 win last week. The return of UW commit Jacob Lane was a major boost to the defensive line. QB Jake Schakel (173-of-242 passing, 2,368 yards, 29 TDs) has been one of the state’s most productive passers this fall. It’s pick-your-poison between WR Tony Harste and WR Gio Kafentzis. Eastlake, perhaps the best team in the 4A KingCo, is a tough draw for the opening round, but Emerald Ridge feels it can beat anyone in the state.

TNT pick: Emerald Ridge, 35-33

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Lincoln Abes sideline celebrates John John Nelson’s interception during Saturday afternoon’s football game against the Lakes Lancers at Lincoln Bowl in Tacoma, Washington, on Oct. 22, 2022. Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com

CLASS 3A

No. 14 Peninsula Seahawks (8-2) vs. No. 3 O’Dea Fighting Irish (8-1)

5 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Seattle

Peninsula secured a sixth consecutive trip to the state playoffs with a 35-29 win over Arlington in last week’s district round, but faces a perennial 3A state contender in the first round in O’Dea. The Fighting Irish — winners of four state titles, most recently in 2017 — advanced to the 3A championship game in four consecutive seasons from 2016-19 before losing in the quarterfinals last fall. Their only loss this season is to undefeated 3A Metro League champion Eastside Catholic. O’Dea’s offense features the state’s top two recruits in the 2024 class in RB Jason Brown and OL Isendre Ahfua. The Seahawks’ two losses this season are also to undefeated teams in 3A SSC champion Yelm and 2A SPSL champion Enumclaw. This is the second-ever meeting between Peninsula and O’Dea in the state playoffs. The Fighting Irish won the first, 35-19, in 2018.

TNT pick: O’Dea, 38-21

No. 15 Spanaway Lake Sentinels (7-2) vs. No. 2 Eastside Catholic Crusaders (9-0)

1 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Seattle

QB Dempsy James (48-of-100 passing, 654 yards, eight TDs; 73 carries, 412 yards, 10 TDs) scored the Sentinels’ lone touchdown in a 7-0 win over Garfield in last week’s district round, but Spanaway Lake will likely need to produce more offense to get past a Crusaders team averaging 40.8 points per contest. WR/DB Jasiah Wagoner, an Oklahoma commit, and RB D’Aryhian Clemons (143 carries, 976 yards, seven TDs) are also key playmakers for the Sentinels. Eastside Catholic — a four-time state champion with back-to-back titles as recently as 2018 and 2019 — has posted double-digit wins in eight contests this fall, and enters the week as one of three undefeated teams in 3A, along with Yelm and Lincoln. Eastside Catholic routed Auburn Riverside, 48-3, last week to advance to the state playoffs for the 11th consecutive season.

TNT pick: Eastside Catholic, 30-14

No. 13 Monroe Bearcats (9-1) vs. No. 4 Lincoln Abes (10-0)

2 p.m. Saturday, Lincoln Bowl, Tacoma

Both of these programs return to the state playoffs after losing in the district round last year. The Abes routed Marysville-Pilchuck, 62-31, last week to advance, and the Bearcats beat Liberty of Issaquah, 35-21. 3A PCL champion Lincoln is one of three undefeated teams remaining in 3A — along with Yelm and Eastside Catholic — and has key wins over 4A state qualifiers Camas and Skyline and league rival and 3A state qualifier Spanaway Lake. QB Gabarri Johnson (97-of-140 passing, 1,908 yards, 20 TDs; 136 carries, 1,360 yards, 18 TDs), a Missouri commit, is the top quarterback recruit in the state in the 2023 class. QB Blake Springer (131-of-194 passing, 2,026 yards, 23 TDs) leads the Bearcats’ offense, while RB Beau Pruett leads Monroe in both rushing (90 carries, 834 yards, 13 TDs) and receiving (25 catches, 557 yards, eight TDs). Monroe, the 3A Wesco South winner, has only one loss this season to 3A Wesco North champion Ferndale.

TNT pick: Lincoln, 42-38

No. 16 Southridge Suns (7-3) vs. No. 1 Yelm Tornados (10-0)

2 p.m. Saturday, Yelm High School, Yelm

No 3A program has scored more points than Yelm’s 561 this season, and no team has allowed fewer than the Tornados’ 76. Yelm has shown big-play ability in every phase through the first 10 weeks this season, and has routed every opponent by at least 30 points. The undefeated 3A SSC champions have already posted double-digit wins over two state qualifiers this fall in 4A GSHL champion Camas and league rival Peninsula. The Tornados routed Bishop Blanchet, 50-7, last week to advance to the state bracket for a third consecutive season. Southridge topped 3A NPSL champion Auburn, 41-20, last week to return to the state playoffs for the first time since 2016. Lucien Cone (124 carries, 1,372 yards, 13 TDs; seven catches, 239 yards, two TDs) and James Rush (199 carries, 1,333 yards, 15 TDs) pace the Suns’ Wing-T. Southridge is coached by former Tumwater standout Matt Johnson, who went on to star at Eastern Washington and was later selected by the Cowboys in the fourth round in 2012.

TNT pick: Yelm, 48-17

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Washington players celebrate on the sidelines after winning a 2A first round district playoff game against Steilacoom at Franklin Pierce Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. on Nov. 4, 2022. Washington defeated Steailacoom 36-8. Cheyenne Boone Cheyenne Boone/The News Tribune

CLASS 2A

No. 14 Fife Trojans (7-3) vs. No. 3 North Kitsap Vikings (9-1)

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

Last week’s 21-14 win over Bremerton in the district round has the Trojans in the state bracket for a second consecutive season. Beau Fualaau (101 carries, 898 yards, 15 TDs), Zach Robertson (52 carries, 522 yards, seven TDs) and Gavin Schneider (54 carries, 492 yards, six TDs) power Fife’s rushing attack. North Kitsap, though, has perhaps the steadiest defense in 2A, led by DL Sofian Hammou (59 tackles, 27 TFL, 8 1/2 sacks, 26 QB hurries). The Vikings have allowed only 34 points through 10 games, including posting six shutouts. Their only loss is an 8-6 defeat in Tumwater in September. The 2A Olympic League champions routed Renton, 53-0, in last week’s district round to reach the state playoffs for the eighth consecutive season.

TNT pick: North Kitsap, 24-10

No. 10 Sedro-Woolley Cubs (7-2) vs. No. 7 Tumwater T-Birds (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Tumwater District Stadium, Tumwater

The T-Birds can extend their streak of state quarterfinals appearances to 10 with a win, and enter the week on a five-game winning streak after dropping their only loss of the regular season to 2A EvCo champion W.F. West in September. RB Carlos Matheney (168 carries, 914 yards, 17 TDs), an Idaho commit, paces Tumwater’s Wing-T. The T-Birds have scored 37.6 points per game this season while allowing only 10.5, and posted a 35-14 win over Ridgefield last week to secure a 12th straight trip to the state bracket. The Cubs enter the contest having won four straight before a bye last week in the district round. Sedro-Woolley’s only losses this season are to 2A defending state champion Lynden — which topped Tumwater in the title game last fall — and another state contender in Anacortes.

TNT pick: Tumwater, 28-24

No. 12 Washington Patriots (7-3) vs. No. 5 Othello Huskies (8-1)

1 p.m. Saturday, Othello High School, Othello

Washington dropped three consecutive losses to open the season, but has rattled off seven consecutive wins since, including routing 2A SPSL rival Steilacoom, 36-8, in the district round to return to the state bracket for the first time since 2018. QB Luke Elliott (101-of-193 passing, 1,838 yards, 21 TDs) and WR Breydan Fisher (50 catches, 984 yards, 14 TDs) pace Washington through the air. Othello has also won its past seven — including a 48-14 rout of Shadle Park in the district round last week — following its only loss to defending 1A state champion Royal back in September.

TNT pick: Othello, 24-21

No. 13 Olympic Trojans (8-2) vs. No. 4 Enumclaw Hornets (10-0)

6 p.m. Friday, Pete’s Pool, Enumclaw

Enumclaw added another convincing win to its undefeated run with a 56-0 shutout of Lindbergh in last week’s district round. No team in 2A this season has put up more points than the Hornets’ 514 through 10 games. RB Emmit Otero (165 carries, 1,288 yards, 21 TDs) has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in eight contests this season, scored multiple rushing touchdowns in six, and leads an Enumclaw offense averaging 397.5 yards and 6.5 touchdowns per game. Olympic topped another 2A SPSL program in Franklin Pierce, 32-14, in last week’s district round, and has two losses this season to 1A state contender Eatonville and 2A Olympic League rival North Kitsap. QB Justin Kelley (141-of-251 passing, 1,808 yards, 16 TDs) and RB Joshua Gauyan (182 carries, 1,077 yards, 13 TDs) have led the Trojans’ offense this season.

TNT pick: Enumclaw, 35-14

No. 16 Black Hills Wolves (7-3) vs. No. 1 Lynden Lions (9-0)

3:30 p.m. Friday, Civic Stadium, Bellingham

After finishing 1-8 last season, Black Hills is back in the state bracket this fall. The Wolves advanced to last week’s district round via a tiebreaker with Aberdeen and Shelton, then stunned Mark Morris, 21-20, to secure a trip to the state playoffs for the first time since 2018. Defending 2A state champion Lynden returns to the bracket for the sixth consecutive season following a bye in last week’s district round. The Lions made a convincing undefeated run through the 2A Northwest Conference this fall, have won all but one game this fall by multiple possessions and are the favorites to repeat as 2A champions. Lynden has won nine state titles in its history, including the 21-7 championship win over Tumwater last fall.

TNT pick: Lynden, 32-7

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Eatonville quarterback Job Kralik ccelebrates as time expires in the Cruisers 27-22 victory over the Tenino Beavers in Friday night’s 2A football game at Tenino Beaver Stadium in Tenino, Washington, on Sept. 30, 2022. Tony Overman toverman@theolympian.com

CLASS 1A

No. 10 Mount Baker Mountaineers (5-4) vs. No. 7 Tenino Beavers (9-1)

7 p.m. Friday, Tenino High School, Tenino

Mount Baker was one of the two teams that moved on to the postseason in a tiebreaker which also included Nooksack Valley and Lynden Christian. Outside of a loss to Eatonville, Tenino rolled through its schedule, outscoring opponents 450-147, including posting a 54-0 shutout of King’s Way Christian in the district round last week. Tenino RB Dylan Spicer (141 carries, 1,481 yards, 19 TDs) has been one of the state’s busiest and most productive rushers.

TNT pick: Tenino, 29-24

No. 13 Zillah Leopards (7-3) vs. No. 4 Eatonville Cruisers (8-2)

4 p.m. Friday, Art Crate Field, Spanaway

Eatonville and Zillah meet in the state playoffs this week for the second time in history. The last time? That was Eatonville’s most recent championship win in 1992, when the Cruisers topped Zillah, 26-23, in the title game to complete an undefeated season. Eatonville got close to a fourth title for the program last season, rolling to 13 wins before finishing runner-up to Royal following a 41-0 loss in the 1A championship game. The Cruisers should be a contender again this season behind an offense averaging 352.9 yards per game, led by QB Job Kralik (607 passing yards, 675 rushing yards, 24 total TDs), an Army commit, and an offensive line that includes Boise State commit Kyle Cox. Eatonville topped Castle Rock, 24-18, in last week’s district round, while Zillah bested College Place, 44-21.

TNT pick: Eatonville, 35-24

No. 16 Cascade Christian Cougars (7-3) vs. No. 1 Royal Knights (8-1)

1 p.m. Saturday, Royal High School, Royal City

The 1A Nisqually League champion Cougars are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2019, while the two-time defending 1A state champion Knights return for the 22nd consecutive season. Royal won back-to-back undefeated titles the past two seasons in 2019 and 2021, has 10 in its history — including five since 2015 — and has made 13 trips to the final since 1994. QB Dylan Allred (113-of-173 passing, 1,691 yards, 17 TDs), RB Kaleb Hernandez (109 carries, 784 yards, 16 TDs) and WR Edgar Delarosa (34 catches, 611 yards, 10 TDs) pace a Royal team averaging 41.6 points per game this season. The Knights have allowed only 42 points on defense — the fewest in 1A this season — through nine games and posted four shutouts. Lynden Christian, which handed Royal its only loss in late September in a 21-14 contest, is the only team that has scored multiple times against the Knights this season. QB Cade Sando (146-of-212, 2,560 yards, 25 TDs) and WR Jackson Almond (58 catches, 1,213 yards, 12 TDs) lead a Cascade Christian offense that averages 431.2 yards and 4.6 touchdowns per contest.

TNT pick: Royal, 38-7

CLASS 1B

No. 12 Muckleshoot Tribal Kings (6-4) vs. No. 5 Liberty Bell Mountain Lions (8-2)

3 p.m. Saturday, Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

Muckleshoot Tribal is averaging 48 points per game this fall, and matched that total in a 48-22 win over Crescent last week to advance to the state playoffs for the first time in program history. QB Aron Ortiz (53-of-89 passing, 814 yards; 105 carries, 1,250 yards; 31 total TDs) leads the Kings in passing and rushing. Liberty Bell returns to the 1B bracket for a second consecutive season following a 78-0 shutout of Inchelium last week, and is averaging 53.4 points per game while allowing only 14 per contest, including four shutouts. Liberty Bell’s only in-state loss this season is to 1B top seed Odessa in Week 1. QB Riley Lidey (98-of-136 passing, 1,574 yards; 66 carries, 608 yards; 42 total TDs) guides a Mountain Lions offense averaging 398.4 yards and 6.7 touchdowns per game.

TNT pick: Liberty Bell, 54-34

Jon Manley covers high school sports for The News Tribune. A McClatchy President’s Award winner and Gonzaga University graduate, Manley has covered the South Sound sports scene since 2013. Born and raised in Tacoma.

Lauren Smith is a sports reporter at The News Tribune. She has covered high school sports for TNT and The Olympian, as well as the Seattle Mariners and Washington Huskies. She is a graduate of UW and Emerald Ridge High School.

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