Lee: One night, two great high school contests
There are two places I’d like to be Friday.
Small problem, though. Make that a large problem. The locations are separated by about 34 miles.
I will be at Albi Stadium to take in what could be a great game between Greater Spokane League-leading and third-ranked Ferris (8-0) and my preseason favorite to capture the league championship, Gonzaga Prep (7-1).
I’d also like to be at Coeur d’Alene, where the Vikings (7-1, 2-0), who climbed to the top of the state rankings this week, take on crosstown rival Lake City (6-2, 2-0) when the 5A Inland Empire League championship will be decided. Also on the line is where the site of the rematch – yes, I said rematch – will be played the following week in the first round of Idaho’s state playoffs.
Both games should attract sizeable crowds. I remember a couple of turnouts of 5,000 earlier this decade at CdA/LC games that carried similar significance. Most of the crowds at GSL games I’ve covered this fall have been decent. But I’m told the crowds today don’t compare to the ones that showed up 40 or more years ago to watch Spokane’s city schools play.
I received an e-mail last week alerting me to an anniversary of sorts Friday. A crowd estimated between 18,000 and 20,000 turned out 40 years ago this week, in 1970, at Albi to watch G-Prep and Ferris clash for the City League title. Ferris, quarterbacked by current Mt. Spokane coach Mike McLaughlin, slipped past the Bullpups 21-18.
There won’t be 18,000 on hand Friday at Albi. I can guarantee you that. If there were that many fans in attendance, there’d be about 11,000 seats occupied for the first time in years.
Former sports editor Jeff Jordan told me that crowds in the 15,000 range were common at old Albi in the late 1950s through the early 1970s. Students attended games en masse, as they weren’t distracted by the countless options they have today.
I see Ferris and CdA winning. I said a couple of weeks ago that I thought they were clearly the two best teams in the region and I haven’t seen anything to dissuade me since.
Still, this is high school sports and the anything-can-happen premise applies more here than at any level of football.
Emotion plays a big role, especially in crosstown rivalries.
And there should be plenty of emotion Friday at Albi and CdA. Once the emotion wears off, though, talent will take over – and Ferris and CdA have more of it.
Lots of points could be put on the scoreboards by all four teams. In the end, however, defense will prevail.
In Idaho’s silly state playoff format, the CdA neighbors will turn around and play again the following week. Ferris and G-Prep also could play again in the first round of the state playoffs following play-in games.
Back to what I think will be the difference – defense. Ferris has a better defense than G-Prep and CdA has a better defense than LC. The way I see it, the Saxons and Vikings will score early and often.
That’s not to say that G-Prep, behind sensational running back Bishop Sankey, won’t score. The Bullpups will. They just won’t slow down the Saxons as frequently as I see Ferris having the ability to slow down G-Prep.
I could be wrong. After all, it is high school football. But I’ve been correct 77 percent of the time this fall (see Pick 6 on our section front).
You can contact Greg Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 927-2180 in Washington or 208-765-7127 in Idaho.