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Washington football semifinals

Sat., Nov. 28, 2009

Saturday state football semifinals


Skyview (10-2) vs. Ferris (9-3), Albi Stadium, 1 p.m.: Today’s game is a homecoming for Skyview coach Steve Kizer. He spent six years as a defensive coordinator at Eastern Washington University, hiring on with Mike Kramer in 1998 after 15 years at Walla Walla Community College. “My last game in Albi, we beat Montana, ending their 26-game winning streak,” he said. Kizer, also in Spokane as an assistant for the 2008 East-West Football summer all-star game, returns to Albi in his sixth year with the Storm. He and Ferris coach Jim Sharkey coached against each other when Sharkey was at Battle Ground. Quarterback Austin Dodge pilots an offense similar to the Saxons’. “There are subtle differences in what they are doing, but a lot of it is like practicing against ourselves,” Sharkey said. “They are an outstanding screen team.” Dodge has passed to a variety of receivers – including leaders Karl Graves and Ellis Henderson – for 33 touchdowns and had only three interceptions. Matt Spears is leading rusher, Johnny Barrett at middle linebacker is leading tackler and right defensive end Dallin Shirley is headed to Brigham Young University. “I’m real impressed with Connor Halliday; Sharkey got lucky with him,” Kizer said. “They present a big challenge for us. We need to control the ball and keep that quarterback on the sideline. The semifinals mean a ton to our school, coaches and players. It’s an exciting time in Vancouver.”


Ellensburg (12-0) vs. West Valley (12-0), Albi, 4 p.m.: The visiting Bulldogs, coached for 13 years by Randy Affholter, won the first state championship in what is now the 3A classification in 1973, but are in just their fifth state tournament appearance and first semifinal since. They are high octane, having scored 500 points in a dozen games, their closest games 22-14 over Othello and 45-35 win over Clarkston. “Their team speed is great and their skilled players are fantastic,” WV coach Craig Whitney said. “It will be kind of a different game than Othello, which tried to physically punish you. Ellensburg will put it in the air no matter what.” Quarterback Ethan Sterkel threw for 2,978 yards and 28 touchdowns prior to the playoffs. He also scored eight TDS, and kicked 50 extra points. Top receiver is Kramer Ferrell with 78 catches, 1,387 yards and 14 TDs before the postseason. Adam Haberman (34-587) and tight end Blaze Affholter (24-262) are other receivers to watch. “They have just got good, good kids. Sterkel is as good as they get out there,” Whitney said, “but it’s a team we match up well with – as long as we cover and contain him.” Three years after Ellensburg’s title, the Eagles got their championship in the second of back-to-back championship appearances. They also reached the title game in 1984. This is their ninth state trip and fifth semifinal. It was business as usual at WV this week with no alteration in the practice regimen. Whitney said they are treating this game like any other: “Our kids are resilient and excited to play again.”


Cusick vs. Tri-Cities Prep, Lampson Stadium, Kennewick, 1 p.m.: The two best eight-man quarterbacks in state square off mano-a-mano for the second consecutive season, but this one is for a shot at Tacoma. TCP Jaguars four-year star Will Hoppes has piled up humongous numbers during his career. So has Panther Spencer Shanholtzer. If Cusick has an advantage it will be in its sizable line and the pressure it hopes to bring to bear on Hoppes. Last year he was 2 for 14 in the first half of the loss, Cusick coach Sonny Finley said. “For how big our guys are, they are quick,” he said. “Not too many people give them credit. Our pressure on him was a big key.” The Panthers will see a zone defense from Tri-Cities players who last week talked about getting revenge from last year’s 48-28 loss. “Our kids read what he said. If he wants to throw fuel onto the fire that’s fine with us,” Finley said. “We will go in with a good game plan and I fully believe we will come out victorious.”


Colfax (12-0) vs. DeSales (9-3), Lampson Stadium, Kennewick, 4 p.m.: The Bulldogs beat DeSales 33-14 the third week of the season. The Irish had also lost 20-0 to La Salle, a team it topped 29-27 last week to reach today’s semifinal in Kennewick. Does that weigh on Colfax coach Mike Morgan? “I’ve listened to people tell me my whole career that it’s hard to beat a team twice,” he said. “Notre Dame beat Navy 41 straight times. Temple and Penn State have played 30 years and it’s 30-0 Penn State. For people to get that stuck in their head is nonsense.” DeSales started the season 1-2, but reached its 14th straight state playoff and 24th overall with nine finals appearances and five titles. “They play their best at the end of the year. Genetically it’s programmed into them,” Morgan said. The key, he added, will be stopping Irish quarterback Pat Richard by imposing their will with a dominant line. The Bulldogs, in their 15th state appearance, primarily at the 1A level, are happy to be alive and realize their season, which seemed so long in August, is now finite, Morgan said. Two games remain, including for a state title in December. “Every semifinal is a knock-down, drag-out brawl and I don’t expect anything different,” Morgan said. “If we block, tackle, catch, run and don’t turn the ball over, I believe we will win.”


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