Unique is a word journalists are encouraged to avoid like the plague.
But unique is the single-best word to describe a prep football showdown Saturday at the Kibbie Dome. That’s when No. 1-ranked and two-time defending Idaho 5A state champ Coeur d’Alene faces off with No. 1-ranked and defending Washington State 4A champ Skyline of Sammamish. Kickoff is at 8.
When have defending state champs of the biggest classifications from neighboring states played? They haven’t in my 29 years here.
Something similar occurred, though, Sept. 10, 1982. CdA squared off against Gonzaga Prep at Spokane Falls Community College. Both teams would go on and capture state titles.
G-Prep led 14-6 at halftime, but the Vikings, behind 5-foot-10 junior quarterback Scott Wellman and a host of other contributors, rallied for a 23-17 win. It would be the Vikings’ most competitive game in a 12-0 season.
In an odd change of tactics, G-Prep coach Don Anderson went away from his option attack and allowed his quarterback to attempt 33 passes, completing just 10, including three interceptions. A buddy of mine, Ken Schneberger, got one of the picks.
Anyway, that was probably one of the more intriguing matchups in the past three decades. But the game Saturday potentially could be one for the history books.
Last year, many thought CdA would have its hands full against a team from Whitney, Calif., in a game at the Kibbie Dome. The game was over by halftime as CdA cruised 55-6.
I can say this much: CdA won’t do that to Skyline. In fact, I think the Spartans, who have won four of the last five State 4A titles, should be a slight favorite.
Skyline features University of Southern California-bound quarterback Max Browne. A four-year letterman and three-year starter, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Browne passed for 4,015 yards and 45 touchdowns last year. He owns or will own every Skyline record by season’s end.
I have no doubt that the 2011 Vikings, who finished 12-0, would beat Skyline. I saw CdA play multiple times last year and I watched Skyline defeat Mead in the quarterfinals and Central Valley in the semifinals last year.
The Vikings of 2012 are talented, to be sure. They held off respectable Mercer Island last Saturday 39-21. But if CdA plays like it did against Mercer Island this week, the Vikings’ 24-game winning streak will be in jeopardy.
I liked the stance CdA coach Shawn Amos took after his Vikings improved to 3-0 Saturday. While grateful for the victory, he didn’t sugarcoat his description of his team’s play.
Amos and company are taking the approach that they must make more strides this week to have a chance against Skyline.
It will take their best game of the year for the Vikings to beat Skyline. What the Spartans will be most impressed with when they take on CdA – and must be braced to deal with – is the Vikings’ speed. After seeing them Saturday, I’m convinced the Vikings are faster than they were a year ago.
CdA starts 12 juniors. It will have to play as disciplined, error-free ball as possible. Meanwhile, Browne could face the most pressure he’s ever seen. The Vikings blitz from all angles and they blitz often.
If you can’t make it to Moscow, the game can be seen live on Idahosports.com. It could be the best game I watch all fall.