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Lee: GSL football comes into focus for second half

They move past the midway point of the season this week in Greater Spokane League football.

Which teams are best positioned for a charge toward the postseason and which teams need a second-half surge? I attempt to answer those questions and others in a team-by-team checkup. I rate the starts from excellent to struggling.

1., tie, Ferris, 4-0: Excellent. The Saxons have played three of the four 4A teams with an Oct. 8 date against co-leader Mt. Spokane looming. Ferris took advantage of a soft early schedule. The Saxons’ first game against a 3A foe is Friday when they meet Central Valley at Joe Albi Stadium. Then after taking on Mt. Spokane, the Saxons close with Mead, Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep, all at Albi. The game against G-Prep could decide the top 4A playoff seed. Junior quarterback Ben Goodwin has been both efficient and productive in his first year as a starter.

1., tie, Mt. Spokane, 4-0: Excellent. I admitted this a couple of weeks ago and must reiterate. I didn’t see this happening, nor did many outside of the Wildcats camp. You can’t say it’s because of the schedule, because Mt. Spokane opened with wins over 4A Central Valley, Ferris and G-Prep. The big reason why the Wildcats are where they are is because of senior quarterback Carson Blumenthal, a heckuva pitcher who can sling it on the football field, too. But he doesn’t lead the GSL in total offense just because of his arm. He’s fearless as a runner. It’ll be interesting to see how the Wildcats fare early in the second half of league. They start Friday at University and follow that up with a showdown against Ferris that might just decide the league title. At worst, Mt. Spokane finishes 8-1.

3., tie, Central Valley, 3-1: Good. The Bears share third with Gonzaga Prep and could very well be undefeated had it not been for stumbling out of the blocks on defense against Mt. Spokane. CV faces Ferris on Friday in a game that could go far in deciding the top 4A playoff berth. The following week the Bears are home against G-Prep. The Bears got a big lift last week with the full-time return of junior quarterback Gaven Deyarmin, who threw three touchdowns and ran for another. That gives CV a balanced offensive attack and will make them difficult to beat in the second half. At worst, CV finishes third among 4A teams and qualifies for the playoffs.

3., tie, Gonzaga Prep, 3-1: Good. And in a name, Bishop Sankey. That just about summarizes the Bullpups’ start. Through four games he has rushed for an eye-popping 1,102 yards. G-Prep should get senior quarterback Shane Schmidlkofer back this week, in time to tune up for games against CV (two weeks) and Mead (three weeks). The Bullpups’ final game is against Ferris in what could be a winner-take-all contest to decide the league title.

5., tie, Mead, 2-2: So-so. The Panthers have no wiggle room, having lost to Mt. Spokane and CV. If they finish in a tie with CV for the last playoff berth, they wouldn’t go. Mead’s most difficult second-half games are against Ferris and G-Prep. One more loss means Mead will be building for next year.

5., tie, North Central, 2-2: Good to so-so. The Indians are in the driver’s seat for the second 3A playoff berth with their big win over Shadle Park last week. They have winnable games tonight against Lewis and Clark and next week at U-Hi. After that, NC faces G-Prep, CV and Mt. Spokane. At the very least, the Indians must beat U-Hi to position themselves for the second 3A spot.

7., tie, Lewis and Clark, 1-3: Struggling. The Tigers’ hopes for a playoff berth are fading quickly after three straight losses. To stay alive for the postseason, LC must win its next two against NC and Shadle Park. After that, the Tigers finish with Mt. Spokane, Ferris and CV. At best, LC finishes 3-6 and out of the playoffs.

7., tie, University, 1-3: Struggling. The Titans have run out of room for error. To get back in the chase for a 3A playoff berth, they must upset Mt. Spokane on Friday. If U-Hi can run off four straight wins – and the schedule is amenable to such a stretch – it would put itself in position to capture a postseason berth. The Titans’ last five games are winnable.

9., tie, Shadle Park, 0-4: Struggling. The record doesn’t show it, but the Highlanders have made strides under first-year coach Alan Stanfield, and their under-varsity programs are winning. So Shadle will turn the corner soon – but not until next year.

9., tie, Rogers, 0-4: Struggling. I like a number of the Pirates’ sophomores, including running backs Luke Rogers and Anthony Hampton. The only game remaining that Rogers has a chance at winning, though, is a league finale against Shadle.