For the fourth time in five years, the regular football season isn’t long enough for the Greater Spokane League to decide which teams make the second season.
After Mead (8-0) finished with a 21-13 win over Ferris Thursday before 3,244 at Albi Stadium, Lewis and Clark edged Gonzaga Prep 17-12 to ensure at least a three-way tie for the final two playoff berths.
In the first season of the expanded, four-teams-advance playoffs, Prep, LC and Central Valley, which finished with 35-7 non-league win at East Valley, all tied for third with 5-3 league records.
The exact tiebreaker won’t be determined until the regular season ends tonight. If Shadle Park beats North Central, the Highlanders are second and the other three teams flip a coin to determine which two square off against the Big Nine on Tuesday.
If Shadle Park loses, there is a four- way tie for the final three spots and CV is eliminated in the four-way head-to-head tiebreaker.
Joe Ireland, a transfer from G-Prep who played the first seven games of the season thanks to a temporary injunction, scored two touchdowns in the first half to give LC a 14-3 lead over the Bullpups.
The Bullpups’ final chance was set up when Chris Mutton recovered a fumble on the LC 32 with 1:56 to play. The Tigers came up with a sack and an incompletion before Bryce Stack picked off Kevin O’Connell on the 26.
The Tigers shut down Prep’s running game, forcing the Bullpups to pass 34 times.
“We didn’t expect them to come out passing,” said LC linebacker Chris Sherlock, who led the defensive charge. “We didn’t make any adjustments, we were prepared for anything they did. Once we knew, we stuffed their run, we did a lot of blitzing and we have great defensive backs.”
Now it’s a coin flip.
“That’s scary,” Sherlock said.
Prep coach Don Anderson said, “So be it. I was against the four teams (advancing) anyway, so what happens, happens. Going into the playoffs off a coin toss is not a big thing. If you can’t win your way in, it’s not a good way.”
Mead, which clinched the league title several weeks ago and its eighth straight playoff berth before that, was flat against Ferris but made just enough big plays to finish a perfect regular season the last year before the new Mead high school opens.
The Panthers blocked a field-goal attempt in the first half, an extra point in the third quarter when the Saxons closed within 14-13 and then recovered a fumble on the Ferris 9 to set up the final touchdown.
“It’s really special for the seniors as the last unified Mead football team. It’s something all the kids can put on their mantel and enjoy,” Mead coach Mike McLaughlin said.