The weather outside was frightful, and the results weren’t so delightful.
But Mead’s football team, a 6-3 loser to Big Nine champion Walla Walla in the State AAA football playoffs, can’t be overly upset.
“I’m proud of their effort,” said Panther coach Mike McLaughlin. “Both teams played well enough to win.”
The difference in a game played in a steady rain that watered down two high-profile offenses, he said, was the fact the Panthers lost one of three fumbles and had two passes intercepted. Walla Walla fumbled four times but didn’t lose any.
“The weather hurt both teams equally,” said McLachlan, but Mead in particular. After two early scores, the game became mired down in the middle of the field.
“Neither team really threatened inside the 20, and the three times we crossed the 50, we turned it over,” said McLachlan.
What was disappointing to McLaughlin was that the loss ended the season for his senior players.
“I will personally miss this class as much as any I’ve had,” he said. “I thought we had a chance to move in the playoffs and it didn’t occur.
“These seniors deserved it.”
They were close, resilient and improved with each week, finishing at 7-2 overall despite dealing with countless injuries.
Next year will be McLaughlin’s last at Mead. He will move on to become the coach at the district’s new high school and take most of his staff with him.
“The split will impact both teams,” he said. “It might be a better situation than hanging on to what we have here.”
His last Panther team returns a nucleus that includes running back Scott McGlocklin, three offensive line starters and an improved defensive front. Sophomore quarterback Nate Adams benefited when thrust into the starting role because of a seasonending injury to senior Jason Lewis.
“Nate’s experience will make him better sooner,” said McLaughlin. “Our one trouble will be replacing Adam Morris.”
Shadle Park finished better than expected, winning three GSL games in coach Mark Hester’s initial year.
The Highlanders will be led by quarterback Kris Walters and return a trio of linemen but otherwise will be junior oriented.
North Central, which was 1-8 after entering the year with optimism, will be led by back Ryan Corigliano.
“This group had high expectations, and we led them to believe they were going to have a good year,” said Coach Jerry McCullough. “Give credit to the kids for hanging in there and wanting to come out and play.”
Like McCullough, Coach Dave Pomante of 0-9 Rogers sees beyond the record for the game’s true value.
“Yeah, the record is disappointing to me as a coach, but I think records are more important to adults than kids,” he said. “Thirteen seniors went out of here with tears in their eyes because it was over.”
The Pirates, he said, played hard, and 82 stuck with the team. Sixtynine will come back.
Of those, more than 20 played substantially this year, including rushing leader Ryan Hill and two-year starting linebacker Lewis Wirth.
“Physically we were not an 0-9 team,” he said. “Next year (with a senior-oriented lineup) we’re going to be extremely competitive.”
More about volleyball
How strong was Greater Spokane League volleyball?
Strong enough that any of four Spokane teams could have been state champion.
The top four GSL finishers reversed position in the post-season. Not only did fourth-place NC win state, but third-place LC was second.
League runner-up Ferris lost to LC in the state quarterfinals and placed seventh overall.
And unbeaten GSL champion Gonzaga Prep was fourth in region and didn’t get to participate in state.
Coaches have long insisted that the league is by far the state’s best and worthy of as many state performers as it can get. They were right.
Northeast A recap
Northeast A League runner-up and district champion Deer Park finished eighth in the State A volleyball tournament.
The Stags won two of three matches, losing to state runner-up Ridgefield in pool play.
On Saturday they were beaten by fifth-place Meridian, fourth-place Goldendale and seventh-place Omak. NEA champion Colfax won the state title.
The football season ended for Lakeside in a 57-24 shootout at Zillah, but don’t expect this to be the last state foes see of the Eagles.
Lakeside’s roster included 10 juniors, including quarterback George Petticrew and running back Tai Saito and a dozen sophomores, many of whom played.