There is really no nice way to put this - in the previous five years, the Big Nine has served the Greater Spokane a large slice of humble pie when it comes to football playoffs.
More precisely, the Big Nine has handed the GSL its lunch 10 times in 12 first-round games the last five years.
The GSL gets another chance to turn the tables tonight in four qualifying games.
The first time the large schools went to a qualifying round was last year and the Big Nine won three games. Three times in the four years prior to that, when there were just two first-round games, the GSL was 0-2.
Only Gonzaga Prep in 1993 got through the two rounds against Big Nine teams. Last year, Mead won twice but, hampered by the effects of Ice Storm, couldn’t hold off Richland in the quarterfinals.
The Big Nine has used its success against the GSL to reach the state championship game three years in a row - Walla Walla (1994), Kamiakin (1995) and Richland (1996).
Gonzaga Prep is the only GSL team to make the state title game and the Bullpups’ last appearance was in 1987.
Tickets for the games at Albi and CV are $6 for adults, $4 for students with ASB cards.
Both games from Spokane will be on the radio. The Score, KTRW 970-AM, is carrying the game from Albi. KKPL, 630-AM, has the CV game. Broadcasts start at 5:45.
Richland vs. Gonzaga Prep
The Bombers were third out of the Big Nine last year and made the state championship game. They were expected to battle for the league title with Kamiakin and Walla Walla this year.
Richland opened the season by beating the Braves and Blue Devils, then promptly lost three straight. The Bombers needed help the last weekend to qualify.
All-State receiver Josh Jelmberg, who has 194 career receptions, is Richland’s main threat.
The Bombers know they have to stop G-Prep’s Kevin O’Connell, but everyone in the GSL knew that and he won the league rushing title.
Wenatchee vs. Central Valley
The Panthers are making their first playoff appearance since 1980 while the Bears are making their third straight appearance.
The Panthers have a pair of major college-calibre linemen and are led by quick quarterback Josh Cooprider. Wenatchee tries to have a balanced attack, but has been much more effective running.
Teams have had more success running than passing against the Panthers, and if the Bears are successful running with Tyree Clowe, quarterback Chad Adamson could have a big day for CV.
Lewis and Clark vs. Kamiakin
The Braves were supposed to be the Big Nine’s best, but lost crucial games to Richland and Pasco. Kamiakin is strong against the run, which puts pressure on LC quarterback Darryl Lockridge if Pete Flatt and Nick Spurgetis are going to have any success running.
The Braves also have a balanced offense and don’t rely on any one person to carry the load.
Mead vs. Pasco
The Bulldogs are very offensive minded and very balanced. Jason Allen led the Big Nine in rushing with 1,119 yards and quarterback Scott Biglin threw his 16th touchdown pass last weekend and first two interceptions.
Mead’s forte is offense, and quarterback Brandon Muzatko needs to throw the ball effectively to allow the ground game some room. The Panthers got into a shootout with Davis early in the season, but Pasco shut down Davis last weekend. Mead, however, has also posted two straight shutouts.