December 14, 2013 in Washington Voices

Freeman snares state football title

Steve Christilaw
Associated Press photo

Freeman’s Max Laib, behind, and Jesse Kitterman leap and hug while they and other players celebrate a 31-13 win over Mount Baker in the state 1A football championship game in Tacoma on Dec. 7.
(Full-size photo)

CV girls soccer meets goal

 Central Valley’s girls Class 4A state soccer title is a breakthrough for Spokane Valley soccer.

 The Bears win over Issaquah in a shootout Nov. 23 marks the first time a valley team has reached the state finals, let alone come away with the championship trophy.

 Coach Andres Monrroy talked all season long about how his team’s goal wasn’t to just get to the Final Four. In his mind, he repeated, his team already was a Final Four team.

 No, the real goal he said was to win the first of the program’s state championships.

 Miraculously, every year Monrroy’s CV teams get more experienced and younger. At the same time.

 No one around the program thinks this year’s title is a one-time thing.

Here’s a look at past Valley state titles:

• Freeman’s is the fourth football title by a Spokane Valley team. West Valley was the first Valley school to win a state title, in 1976. East Valley captured a state title in 1981 and coach Rick Giampietri led Central Valley to the state title in 1997. The Eagles are the only Valley school to have multiple state championship game appearances – reaching the last game of the season four times (losing to Sumner in 1975, Olympia in 1984 and Lynden in 2009).

• Four sports have one title each: CV has the lone boys basketball title (1967-68), WV won the baseball title (1977-78), U-Hi has a state fastpitch title (2002-03), and Valley Christian is the only state girls track titleholder (2000-01).

• Girls cross country has produced eight state titles. CV won the team title in 1982 and U-Hi earned it in 1992-93. West Valley owns two state titles, in 1977-78, 1986-87. East Valley had a run of four titles in a row, 1994-95 through 1997-98.

• CV (2012-13) and U-Hi (1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000) won boys cross country titles.

CV (1996-97), WV (1970-71) EV (1995-96) and U-Hi (2003-04, 2008-09) own state wrestling championship trophies.

• EV (1978-79, 2005-06), U-Hi (1997-98, 1998-99), WV (2004-05) and Valley Christian (1999-2000, 2011-12) own boys track and field titles.

• Central Valley (1992-93, 2000-01, 2001-02) and West Valley (1996-97) both have produced girls basketball state champions.

They’re celebrating at Freeman High School in the wake of the Scotties winning the school’s first state football championship last weekend, beating Mount Baker in convincing fashion, 31-13.

If history holds, however, the real celebration by Scotties and their fans could come next year.

You see, the history of state championships at Freeman is that they come in pairs. The Class 1A football championship is the fifth state title in school history, and the previous four came in two memorable, back-to-back seasons in girls basketball and volleyball.

The school’s first state title came in 1980-81 when the volleyball team won the state Class B tournament, knocking off Ritzville in the final. The Scotties moved up to Class 1A the following season and won their second title in 1981-82, beating Ridgefield. Freeman’s girls basketball program won back-to-back state titles in 2009-10 and 2010-11.

State football championships are an enormous challenge that not only take talent but endurance and more than a little bit of luck. Of the Spokane Valley schools, only West Valley (in 1975-76 and 1976-77) has reached the state championship game in back-to-back seasons, winning the title in the Eagles’ second appearance.

Truth be told, a second trip to the final game of the season isn’t out of the question for coach Jim Wood’s Scotties.

The Scotties were a juggernaut this season, rolling through an undefeated 13-0 season, trailing only once during the regular season, and only briefly at that.

Freeman boasted exceptionally big offensive and defensive lines made up primarily of underclassmen – meaning the core of that line should return for the 2014-15 season. Jordan Rose (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) was the lone senior to start on the offensive line and he missed significant time during the season over a disciplinary issue. That means the offensive line should be all veterans of the state playoffs.

And the Scotties featured a pair of remarkable running backs in Max Laib and Markus Goldbach – both of whom ran for more than 1,300 yards.

In Laib, Freeman had a speedy, shifty running back who could change directions at will and accelerate like a sprinter. In Goldbach, it had a fullback with sprinter’s speed.

Which was faster? Wood would only smile at the question. Probably a dead heat if they had to race.

Goldbach returns to the Freeman backfield, and team depth could provide another backfield of contrasting styles next season.

Quarterback Preston Hoppman returns after a season that saw him grow at the position as both a field general and a passer.

The Scotties now turn their concentration to winter sports, meaning a repeat title is now merely a thought at the back of their collective minds.

But it’s there.

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