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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Eagles fly

A muddy track at West Valley didn’t matter with the way the Eagles were soaring. Their first playoff appearance in 22 years produced a 29-0 win. Keep reading for the unedited game story for Saturday’s paper.

Mead advances to title match

Mead (31-2) will take on Curtis (23-3) in the State 4A volleyball championship game at about 6:30 p.m.

Mead handled Graham Kapowsin 25-15, 25-14, 25-20 and Curtis topped Auburn Riverside 25-15, 28-26, 25-20 in the semifinals.

I’ll check back later with the story.

How best to build a football program

Why do some football teams succeed when others don’t. Is it because of the size of a school, socio-economic, emphasis placed on sports by families or school administrations, coaching, or merely because one school has better athletes than the other?

It’s probably a little of everything. I addressed it in my Prep Page column on Thursday.

State football begins

Tonight we find out how good our teams were this year with the first round of state football games. From the GSL, Ferris hosts Kamiakin, winner 21-0 over CV last week; Mt. Spokane is in Richland against Hanford.

In 2A, West Valley is home tonight against Selah,  Clarkston and Colville hit the road against Ellensburg and Othello tonight and Saturday respectively. And 2B playoff perennials Colfax and Reardan represent District 7.

I’ve linked to my stories today in The Spokesman-Review.

Mead moves into semifinals

The Mead volleyball team is one win away from playing for another state championship.

Lewis and Clark, meanwhile, will play for fourth/seventh Friday.

Click the tab below to read my unedited story.

State 4A volleyball

Defending 4A state champ Lewis and Clark and Mead opened with wins in first-round matches Thursday morning at Toyota Center in Kennewick.

Click the tab below to read more. I’ll update tonight with their second-round matches and my unedited story.

Here’s a link to a feature Mike Vlahovich wrote about University of Southern California-bound Alex Olgard of Mead. She’s in the picture above.

Here’s a link to a look at the other state volleyball tournaments.

More on Ferris cross country win

Talk about confident! A week or so ago Mike Hadway talked about looking forward to a dunk in the 18th hole water hazard at Sun Willows Golf Course. It was a tradition started when Mead cross country coach Pat Tyson was tossed into the pond after winning state. It became something of a traditiona and has been chronicled by The S-R over the years.

Hadway’s fifth title and the entire contingent of Saxons took the plunge. A new website, CoachesSaid.com was there and did a blowout on this year’s dunking.

Kamiakin throttles Bears

Five first half turnovers, all inside their own 35, put Central Valley in a hole but the Bears only trailed Kamiakin 14-0 at the half.

The Bears took the second half kickoff and on their second play fumbled the ball away again inside the 35.

It could have been worse than the 21-0 finale if the CV defense didn’t come up big. Read the unedited game story below.

Highlanders girls state race champs

Shadle Park girls captured their first state 3A cross country championship and a couple of girls who played for volleyball titlists last year are champions in their second fall sport. Chelsea Chandler who played for the Highlanders volleyball titlists last year, was fourth scorer in cross country this. And Colfax’s Morgan Willson, who played for the Bulldogs volleyball champs, was State B race winner in her first cross country season.

Here are my stories from Pasco:

Ferris, NC secure overland legacy

Ferris made it 22 straight for Greater Spokane League 4A boys cross country teams at the state meet today in Pasco. North Central won its fourth straight 3A title and will be shooting for the Saxons during the Nike Cross regionals next week in Boise.

Here’s my story from Sun Willows Golf Course:

Tough night for Mead football

It took awhile for Mead’s defense to adjust to Southridge and the offense never solved the Suns, whose pressure on a young quarterback led to a 14-10 victory. All scoring was in the first half.

Here’s my story:

Football moment of reckoning

Lewis and Clark’s easy victory over Kennewick last night could, like last year, be a harbinger of things to come. Last year the Tigers beat Kamiakin by four TDs and the Greater Spokane League won every crossover matchup with the Columbia Basin Big Nine.

Proof will be in the pudding beginning tonight with Mt. Spokane hosting Sunnyside at Joe Albi Stadium, 5:30 p.m., followed by Mead against Southridge at 8 for state berths. CV is at Albi, 3 p.m. tomorrow against Kamiakin. There are also the crossover contests going on as season enders for the rest of the schools. It will be interesting to see what transpires.

Best of luck runners in Pasco

Ferris and North Central boys and Shadle Park girls - hopefully hale and hearty - chase State cross country team championships tomorrow at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. The day begins at 9:30 a.m. with Wheelchair competition and continues with a dozen races at half hour intervals, concluding with 4A boys at 2:30 p.m.

Below are the individuals involved:

Successful O’Dea coach dies

Phil Lumpkin, the successful coach at O’Dea High School in Seattle has died at age 57. The cause of depth, according to these stories in The Seattle Times, was related to pneumonia. In a related story, fellow coaches share their recollections.

Saxons rise from the dead

 On post-season life support and needing a miracle, pre-season Greater Spokane League football favorite Ferris got one last week.

Tuesday night, in front of 2,050 fans at Joe Albi Stadium, the resuscitated Saxons made the most of their second chance in a mini-game tie-breaker series that resurrected State 4A playoff hopes.

Ferris defeated first Gonzaga Prep 14-7, then University 10-0 to earn the third and final GSL berth to state qualifying games against the Columbia Basin Big Nine. The Saxons (6-3) travel Friday to unbeaten CBBN No. 2 seed, Wenatchee (9-0) for a 7 p.m. game in the Apple Bowl.

Crazy GSL plays wildly to the end

In my 33 years of watching Greater Spokane League football, I don’t think I’ve seen a season quite like this with six teams, maybe seven if you include champion and 3A top seed Mt. Spokane in the mix, so even. Any of the six 4A squads could have made the playoffs if not for a missed extra point here, a turnover there. So it was probably to be expected that it would end the way it did tonight with Gonzaga Prep just 12 yards away from clinching the No. 2 seed, only to be relegated to a three-team playoff for the third spot; or that University would come up one-inch away from the third playoff spot (I wasn’t there, but a source told me the Titans might have been in) and now in that playoff; or that Ferris, left for dead, now has a chance in that playoff to return to state. Weird.

That begs the question: Are the teams good enough to advance in the playoffs? Once there you have to take care of business better than this league has done.

Here’s my story from LC’s win at G-Prep to finish the season with back-to-back victories over its rivals, the Bullpups and Saxons.

Remaining football playoff scenarios

After last night’s Mead victory over Central Valley, here are the four remaining playoff possibilities from tonight’s games. If there’s a three-team mini-playoff it will be Tuesday, 6 p.m. at Albi Stadium:

If Ferris and Gonzaga Prep win: 1, Mead (7-2). 2, Gonzaga (6-2). 3, CV (6-2). (Mead beat both teams, Prep beat the Bears).

If University and Lewis and Clark win: 1, Mead (7-2). 2, CV (6-2). 3, U-Hi (6-3). (Mead beat both, Bears beat the Titans, U-Hi beat Gonzaga Prep (5-3).

If Ferris and LC win: 1, Mead (7-2). 2, CV (6-2), 3. playoff Tuesday among Gonzaga (5-3), Ferris (5-3) and U-Hi (5-4) (Prep beat Ferris, Ferris beat U-Hi, U-Hi beat Prep in league).

If U-Hi and G-Prep win: 1, Mead (7-2). 2-3 playoff among Prep (6-2), CV (6-2) and U-Hi (6-3) (CV beat U-Hi, U-Hi beat Prep, Prep beat CV in league).

 Mead and University for the two-year scheduling cycle played the extra league game based on a desire for all 3A teams to have a full eight-game league schedule in lieu of divisions. That led to this playoff formula that incorporates both wins and losses as tiebreaker criteria.

Panthers come all the way back

Three weeks into the season the Mead Panthers were 1-2 and facing an uphill GSL football slog. They ran the table and with Thursday’s convincing 31-12 win over Central Valley are No. 1 among 4A teams. They proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that defense more than offense wins games, stifling the Bears in all facets except the kicking game. But they showed their offensive versatilty with a big passing night from sophomore Andy Wetzel and huge receiving night by Mitch Kayser whose early layout catch set the tone against CV’s suspect secondary, just as they ran their way to victory the week before.

With the triumph, and anticipating Mt. Spokane’s win over Rogers Friday, it’s a one-two finish for the Mead district (in volleyball and soccer as well, (the Wildcats and Panthers tied in the latter) in league. Mt. Spokane won two out of three head-to-head tests winning in football and soccer this year and the volleyball team tested Mead in their league match.

Should be a big crowd at Albi when the two host a doubleheader 4A-3A state play-in doubleheader next Friday. 

Here’s the post of my story for tomorrow’s Spokesman-Review:

GSL post-season grid picture clears

If there’s been a common thread to this year’s Greater Spokane League football season, it’s been how quickly the fortunes of war change. A turnover here, a missed kick there have determined the outcome of numerous games. Ferris made mistakes that hurt in three contests. Two untimely fumbles coming close together cost Gonzaga Prep against Mead. But the Bullpups were on the other end at Central Valley Friday when the contest swung on the final 20 seconds of the first half.

At least, following a breakfast meeting this morning, the playoff picture has cleared up. Mead is a lock for the playoffs and Central Valley is close.


Forfeiture issue moot

The question that was to be addressed today about whether Mt. Spokane would have to forfeit a football game because of an ineligible player was laid to rest before Distict 8 adminitrators tested the new WIAA oversight rule.

Turns out the player in question was academically eligible after all. In an e-mail, Central Valley principal and this year’s Greater Spokane League president Mike Hittle explained that the youngster gained eligibility Sept. 28.

The Wildcats 56-0 victory at East Valley, the game in which he played, was Oct. 16, rendering the issue irrelevant.

Mt. Spokane finishes up its regular season Friday against Rogers with a chance for its first eight-win season.

Another wild night of HS football

There was a lot of drama and plenty of surprises in high school football action Friday night. Gonzaga Prep kept its playoff hopes alive with the win at Central Valley and Mead also put itself in a good position for the playoffs and dashed University’s hopes. Lewis and Clark surprised South Hill-rival Ferris and West Valley needed overtime against Pullman to stay undefeated. In Idaho, Lake City shocked Coeur d’Alene. Click here for the roundup of other games.

Drew Swank’s number being retired

Tonight is Homecoming for Valley Christian School and prior to the football game against Sprague-Harrington, Andrew (Drew) Swank’s number is being retired - temporarily - prior to the 7 p.m. start..

Don Swank said that the No. 15 his son wore will be back on the field for four more years, beginning next season. “Coach (Jim ) Puryear talked to us several weeks ago that he’d like to retire it with the option to reserve it for Timmy to wear when Tim’s a freshman,” Don said during a press conference at the school this afternoon.

Drew Swank died from brain injury sustained in a football game Sept. 25. Prior to the press conference, the family asked for no questions regarding what they termed a freak accident.

District 8 volleyball, soccer set

Greater Spokane League volleyball and soccer teams are headed to post-season with the start of district play next week.

Volleyball has a pair of four-team tournaments that will qualify a total of seven teams to regional play against the Columbia Basin Big Nine. Tournaments begin Wednesday and conclude Saturday at Mt. Spokane.

Soccer also begins next Wednesday, three 4A teams qualifying for regionals. The 3A schools have no district tournament, but four advance to regional against the CBBN.

An amazing era ended

It had to happen sometime. The incredible Mead boys cross country state run has ended and will likely be something never duplicated. From 1988 until this year, 21 straight seasons, the Panthers dominated like no other placing in the top four every year, winning two-thirds of those  state 4A titles, including the last two, and finishing second five other times.

Mead set a standard of excellence that has been emulated in the Greater Spokane League, and them some, and envied by all. Ferris and University winning the other seven titles, North Central adding the last three 3A titles and finishing second the previous two years.

But the Panthers based on scoring minus 3A schools in Wednesday’s district meet at Plantes Ferry Park, lost their chance to qualify for state when they lost the third GSL regional team berth to U-Hi, in a sixth-runner tiebreaker.

Mike & Greg Show

The latest high school football predictions from Mike & Greg

Prep Page Thursday

Herewith are my stories in the Thursday issue of The Spokesman-Review. The feature is on Ferris quarterback prospect Connor Halliday and column is about potential change (or not) in Greater Spokane League enrollment classifications and the advantages the 4A-3A league has seen.

Speaking of 3A tonight’s Rogers-East Valley football game will either decide the GSL’s second berth against the Columbia Basin Big Nine No. 1 play-in entry, or could even lead to the prospect of a three-way tiebreaker. If the Knights win, they’re in.

Please keep on topic. Remember, this post is for you. As parents of athletes and close followers of your favorite teams you have added knowledge, insights and opinions that create interest in and conversation about high school sports.

Another injured gridder

For those who may have missed it Colville football player Austin Pete underwent surgery after suffering a head injury.

Expect wild finish to GSL football

After what happened last year, you’d think I knew better. I picked Central Valley, which had a wealth of skill but dearth of line experience, to place fourth and the Bears wound up tied for first. This year I picked a team with a veteran line, but no skilled position experience sixth. Here they are in first place, two games ahead of their 4A counterparts with two games remaining following Friday’s win over Mead.

Victory has set the stage for a wild finish. CV is in the cat bird’s seat, four other teams, including the favored Saxons are scrambling for their post-season lives.

To recap: 

Mead stops Sankey, G-Prep

Mead’s defense shut out Gonzaga Prep in the second half, and the Panthers scored two touchdowns after halftime for a 17-13 comeback win over the Bullpups.

Titans keep hopes alive

One runningback was missing providing another with opportunity and he helped keep University firmly in the Greater Spokane League state playoffs hunt.

Jory Zettle, took his first varsity carries in the absence of the league’s third-leading rusher John Wright, and gained 84 yards in 22 carries, scoring a touchdown in U-Hi’s last-ditch 30-27 victory over Lewis and Clark Thursday night