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Same Saxons, different Sky in 4A

The Sky’s the limit.

Defending champion Skyline has returned to the 4A state football semifinals. Unlike last year, however, the Spartans won’t be Ferris’ opponent in Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Joe Albi Stadium.

That honor belongs to Skyview, a first-time semifinalist from Vancouver. The Storm are making their third state appearance in four years, losing by four points to eventual champion Oak Harbor in the 2006 quarterfinals and in the first round last year.

“I can live with that,” said Ferris coach Jim Sharkey of a team that mirrors the Saxons’ spread offense. “I’m really familiar with them. They are from my (previous league).”

While the Saxons were advancing to the semifinals for the third successive year with a 24-14 victory at Eisenhower of Yakima, Skyview scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 34-21 win at home against previously undefeated Auburn.

The Storm scored on a tailback pass in the fourth quarter to break a 21-21 tie and again in the game’s final minute.

Ferris ran a two-back, tight-end set and ran the clock the final six minutes at Eisenhower. Sharkey said the game, played in the daylight on a hard and lumpy grass field, reminded his players of their Grid Kids youth football days.

“The nice thing about this team is how much they’re improving each week,” Sharkey said. “Sometimes teams flatten out this time of year.”

Skyline, also making its third straight appearance in the semifinals (and its seventh trip this far overall), will play Bothell in the other semifinal. Bothell is the team Ferris played its first time in the final four.

Going to Disneyland

Connor Whitney, 9-year-old son of coach Craig Whitney and West Valley’ ball boy, is enjoying the Eagles’ run deep into the playoffs. WV plays host to No. 1-ranked Ellensburg at 4 p.m. in the second game of an Albi doubleheader.

“He thought the turf at Gonzaga Prep was cool and now he’s excited he’ll be ball boy at Albi,” Whitney said. “He thinks it’s a trip to Disneyland every week. A lot of our kids have the same enthusiasm.”

WV survived Othello on Saturday, 28-22 in overtime at G-Prep, and moves on to face its third straight CWAC opponent.

“We had every opportunity to fold. There were penalties, big plays were called back and we had a fumble they took in to tie the game,” Whitney said. “But (his players) held their composure and kept slugging away.”

While the Eagles had high hopes for the season, what they are experiencing is new for all involved, including the ball boys.

“Connor has a grin on his face,” the coach/father said. “He tells me to move over and watches film. All he wants to do is go out and play catch.”

Added dimension

The DeSales-LaSalle game to determine which would face Colfax this Saturday in the State 2B eastern semifinal came down to who made the last field goal. The Bulldogs have their own ace-in-the-hole in that department.

Tyler McNannay booted a 35-yarder in Colfax’s 37-6 win over South Bend, has converted from longer and, said coach Mike Morgan, has 50-yard potential.

“Those guys come along once in a millennial,” Morgan said.

McNannay is mentored by Jug Daubert, a long time Colfax sports volunteer who “was a kicker in the 1800s – that’s what he said,” Morgan explained.

The junior running back/linebacker’s foot is a weapon, adding to the Bulldogs’ physically imposing line.

“Our line just flat wears people out,” Morgan said. “Late in the game South Bend’s guys had their hands on their hips, their chests were rising and falling, they were gassed.”

Colfax plays DeSales, a team it beat 33-14 earlier this year, on Saturday at 4 p.m. at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick. The two met there a year ago in the first round of state.

Cusick back returning

When Tri-Cities Prep hosts Cusick on Saturday in a 1B emifinal at 1 p.m. at Lampson, the Jaguars will face an ingredient missing from the Panthers’ 54-26 victory over Colton.

Leading rusher Josiah Rhoades sat out the game because of a deep thigh bruise he suffered during an earlier game against Odessa.

“I felt we could get past Colton without playing him,” coach Sonny Finley said. “We wanted him 100 percent healthy for Tri-Cities Prep.”

His replacement, Green Bay Packers namesake Donald Driver, rushed 13 times for 87 yards, and fullback Robert Ives added 45 on seven carries to complement workhorse quarterback Spencer Shanholtzer.

Shanholtzer combined for 408 yards passing and rushing, scored five touchdowns and passed for another. He now has 10,227 yards of career total offense and accounted for 136 touchdowns.

Story of Friday night’s victory in an icy rain in Newport, Finley said, was Cusick’s massive line.

“I might be a little biased because I’m a former offensive lineman,” Finley said. “They dominated the game and opened big holes for Spencer, Donald and Robert all night.”

Gratifying season

Cheney improved on its 2006 state soccer finish even if the girls didn’t achieve their ultimate goal. Archbishop Murphy’s 2-0 victory Saturday left the Blackhawks (20-2) second in State 2A.

“I think the kids were a little disappointed by the final results, but I think they were proud of what they did,” said coach Robyn Smith.

Midfielder Alyssa Kirstein suffered a knee injury during Cheney’s semifinal win over East Valley-Yakima and her absence was felt in the title game, Smith said.

But Archbishop Murphy is good, she said. “Having finished third the last couple of years they made a commitment to a championship. They were too much for us to overcome.”