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I don’t think even the teams figured on playing to a 0-0 standoff with three minutes remaining in the game, no matter how good Mead’s defense is or how experienced Mt. Spokane is. Did you? Was the 7-0 thriller determined on Colten Williams’ game breaking 70-plus yard run with less than 3 minutes remaining heart-stopping enough? Did you remain patient in the auto lines trying to depart Joe Albi Stadium?
Here is the Tri-City Herald preview of teams for its upcoming season. There is plenty to read with stories about all the teams down there. My inside source, Rene Ferran, thinks the level of the teams is about what it was last year with Wenatchee, Walla Walla and Southridge likely the best of the bunch.
As expected, a veteran two-time 4A state semifinalist football team proved too much for a rebuilding 3A program coming off a winless season and with a new coach. The Ferris Saxons poured in 31 first-quarter points (four on safeties) and won 59-0 in a game that implemented the state’s new running clock rule. Two Saxon quarterbacks threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns. About the only thing visibly missing was a running game which must factor over the next few weeks when the Saxons face Gonzaga Prep, Mead and Mt. Spokane in the “Murderer’s Row” portion of the GSL season. NC was mistake prone early, but moved the ball well in the second quarter and might have scored a couple times if not for some dropped passes.
The first installment of the Mike and Greg Show is here. Check it out to see who we picked - and this year it’s head-to-head against each other - The Relic (me) and Methusula (Greg’s in his 25th year at The S-R).
Here’s a link to my preview story For Great Northern League football on the Prep Page of today’s Spokesman-Review. I still have to chase down a couple of coaches before I can get my complete on-line preview completed for the blog. Spent half the morning filming football predictions with Greg Lee at KHQ. We’ve gone upscale. They should be up on the blog this afternoon.
Too much to do, too little time.
Colfax is loaded for bear. The Bulldogs only had four seniors last year when they ran roughshod over their Northeast 2B football rivals in their first season since dropping down from 1A. With all those returnees, there’s no reason to think they won’t do it again - although they’re wary that the toughest top-to-bottom league in the state will be more prepared for them this year. But knowing what to do and doing it are two different things. That’s our A/B football preview focus with short capsules on the four area B leagues and the Northeast A.
Here’s my story that ran in today’s The Spokesman-Review about the start of Greater Spokane League football on Thursday. I’ll have expanded on-line preview up later this a.m. Coaches were tardy this year in getting me back their questionnaires, but I’m almost there. As usual predictions are for you, faithful reader, to pick apart. If I had a glimpse into the future and knew just how the leagues will finish there’d be no need to play the game. Have at it.
The wait is just about over. Washington high school football teams are fine-tuning for this weekend’s opening games, beginning Thursday when defending Greater Spokane League champion and state semifinalist Ferris faces North Central at Albi Stadium, 6:30 p.m. It is precursor to Friday night’s huge showdown game between Mt. Spokane and Mead at 8.
One bit of good news at Central Valley, which hosts Rogers Friday at 7, is that Rick Sloan is back helping handle the offense. He was diagnosed with a pre-rheumatoid arthritic condition and took the summer off from coaching Bears basketball.
Other games Friday: Lewis and Clark at Lake City (non-league), East Valley at Gonzaga Prep, both 7 and Shadle Park-University, 5:30, Albi. We’ll see early how accurate my predicted order of finish in tomorrow’s S-R might be.
On Wednesday my travels took me to East Valley and North Central and yesterday I watched Gonzaga Prep scrimmage. The two 3A schools have similar concerns - lack of depth - Prep has a certain amount of inexperience, but if the Bullpups replace graduated linemen and quarterback, they should be all right.
Next up was a swing north on Tuesday to watch Mead, Mt. Spokane, Rogers and North Central and the reminder that district rival Panthers and Wildcats open their seasons against each other. Last year was a one-touchdown thriller won by Mead, but the team ultimately was victim of a rugged 4A slate. Mt. Spokane rallied in the second half the season, beat Hanford in a wild playoff game that earned them a berth in 3A state. Both should contend again
Rogers ended a long losing streak, winning twice last year, and seeks to build on that. The Indians have a new coach, Brian Gardner, and clean slate after going winless last year.
Took a swing through the southern portion of the Greater Spokane League on Day One, leaving me with one question: Whose idea was it to close down 37th between Hart Field and Ferris during beginning of football practices?
Monday began at Lewis and Clark (state champs 2007), detoured down to 29th to reach Ferris (back-to-back state semifinalists), hit Central Valley (top eight last year) and concluded the day watching University and the new program of Bill Diedrick.
The way the GSL has played the last couple years football has made it a special thing to witness. As coach Jim Sharkey said on Monday, “I think this league has really arrived. You’ll see a high level of play even with people graduated. All the 4A schools are going to be pretty good.”
Got the Greater Spokane League football statistical data updated prior to the start of football play in a little over two weeks. Herewith is a recap of what transpired in 2008 where receivers secured places in league history.
Vacation’s over, another sports year begins.
High school football teams open practice on Wednesday and my early prediction for the Greater Spokane League favors Ferris for the third straight year. The team won the annual 7-on-7 tournament in Burnaby again and should be solid in the line.
Behind them it’s a crapshoot, although you have to like Mt. Spokane which returns most everybody from a state qualifying 3A team.
A birdie told me that Mead’s defense looked awesome in a summer camp that included the Saxons, Panthers, state quarterfinalist Central Valley (good line needs to fill skilled positions), Gonzaga Prep and teams from Idaho. Look for a veteran University team to make a big jump.
There are three new coaches, Dave Hughes and Brian Gardner moving up (from assistantships) at Lewis and Clark and North Central respectively, Bill Diedrick moving down (from college and pro ranks) to University. Like the class of 2008, the class of 2012 appears talented on the heels of last year’s freshman season.
That’s my take before hitting the road to see for myself. What, prep football fans, are your thoughts?
For want of a better eponym, I’ve dubbed Tom and Julie Yearout Lewis and Clark’s “First Family” of coaching. What better term to describe the only husband and wife, at least in my memory, from Spokane, and certainly the Greater Spokane League, to win State 4A titles in separate sports? And now, with the announcement of Julie’s resignation, calling it a matter of principle, both have left at the top of their games.
Her Tigers won the State 4A volleyball championship last fall after successive second place finishes to Mead the previous two seasons. Tom, who never had a losing season as LC’s football coach, had that miracle state run to the title in 2007. He’s not entirely gone. Tom will be new coach Dave Hughes’ defensive line coach.
Coaches have come and gone in my 40 years of following high school sports. This has been a tough year. It’s particularly sad to see the Yearouts sidelined. Hopefully, they’ll be back soon.
Blake Bledsoe, Central Valley’s Greater Spokane League MVP quarterback, was named MVP during last weekend’s East-West All-Star football game. He passed for a touchdown and rushed for the winner with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining for a 13-12 win in Everett.
His story and numerous others for youth athletes during their busy summer filled my weekly Youth Notebook that runs each Tuesday in The Spokesman-Review
Every year Washington high school sports writers send a list of candidates and vote on All-State teams in sports where there is no other avenue to honor the best of the best. It was the brainchild of Rene Ferran from the Tri Cities Herald who compiles the whole she-bang and coordinates the operation. The spring is for baseball, softball and soccer. State runnerup Cheney has a pair of first-team choices in forward Austin Walker and defender Paul Holloway. Riverside’s Tyler Florez also is a first-team defender. U-Hi’s Mikey Ramos and EV’s Andrew Mastronardi, 4A and 3A midfielders from the GSL, are second team. Herewith are the 2009 soccer all-staters:
University pitcher Billy Moon was named to the 4A All-State baseball team that is compiled each year by Rene Ferran from the Tri-City Herald with input and voting by high school writers from newspapers throughout Washington. Jake Partridge of Rogers was 3A second team outfielder. Cheney’s Drew Ableman was a first-team 2A outfielder and a pair of Freeman players Jake Sullivan at catcher and Jacob Kitterman in the outfield were 1A first-team players. Brandon Hoadley of Colfax made it in 2B and there were a number of 1B players from Colton on the team. Herewith, the list:
Every year Washington high school sports writers send a list of candidates and vote on All-State teams in sports where there is no other avenue to honor the best of the best. It was the brainchild of Rene Ferran from the Tri Cities Herald who compiles the whole she-bang and coordinates the operation. It was a slim year for area bigger school athletes. Herewith are the 2009 results for softball:
Just as a year ago when Ferris quarterback Jeff Minnerly rallied the East to victory with his legs and arm in the annual East-West All-Star football game when it was in Spokane, this year Central Valley QB Blake Bledsoe provided the heroics in similar fashion for a 13-12 victory in Everett. Here’s the story of his late big play performance from The Seattle Times.
During the 15th Earl Barden East-West game in Yakima, the East suffered a 31-13 loss. Lakeside’s Brady Blankevoort threw for a touchdown and was 7-for-11 for 49 yards and an interception. The Yakima Herald was there.
Cougfan.com has announced that Ferris quarterback Connor Halliday has made a verbal commitment to Washington State. The story indicated that he had offers from Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and EWU and had attracted interest from Boise State, Arizona State, Oregon State, Washington and Oregon. Halliday was quoted as saying WSU is where he wanted to play.
On another topic, University activities coordinator Ken VanSickle’s dad, Bud, died last week at age 81. They had a gathering and celebration for him at U-Hi on Saturday.
This job is adrenalin filled, just like the competition I watched and wrote about during the year. From September through May the days are long and the weeks run six days and when it ends, as senior athletes can attest, there is a letdown as well. You thrive on the activity and can’t get motivated when there’s a lull.
Forty finals have been completed - mainly in the field events. Bulk of the State 2A-3A-4A track meets here at Mt. Tahoma High, 65 races and field events in all, will be contested today. We got to watch Thursday’s events before moving over to softball today. Dave Trimmer took in today’s action - and survived.
Here’s what he wrote about for tomorrow’s S-R:
Greetings from Tacoma. Shadle Park and North Central lost their openers at the State 3A softball tournament. The Indians went out in two straight games, but the Highlanders bounced back for two wins and reached the final eight. Two wins and they’ll trophy for the fifth straight year. Pretty impressive efforts.
Here’s my story that will run tomorrow in The Spokesman-Review.
All’s well that ends well. After suffering an ignominious loss to Lewis and Clark, seeded fifth in district, the top-seeded University Titans baseball completed a three-game run of loser-out games to return to state for the third straight year. U-Hi beat Southridge 6-2 in eight innings, on the road at that, and will play Kamiakin in the first round of the 4A tournament in Richland. Could there be a Titan-Bomber finale for a berth in the Final Four?
“Maybe the loss was good for us,” said coach Scott Sutherland. “It caught our attention.”
The Titans softball counterparts weren’t as fortunate, falling victim to the LC jinx as well, and will miss the regional tournament for the first time in memory. The Tigers won 5-4 in extra inning to oust the GSL co-champions. Lewis and Clark had high hopes entering the season, but had lost their last five league games and were just 5-15 before winning three playoff games including over Mead and the Titans. Go figure.
Last week I wrote a column about the impending shot clock for high school basketball in Washington next year. I talked to a batch of coaches who were mainly in favor of it, but also offered reasons why the current ways are OK.
Here’s your chance to debate the issue. Will the game be better, worse or will things really change?
You know you’re getting old when you can remember standing in the middle of a track or along cross country courses watching the Weitz family run - not only last fall, but 35-plus years ago.
Lynn Weitz was the first, a scrawny youngster who, you could tell, was going to be something someday, and he did, winning a state title. His sisters, Diane, Jan and Judy were all accomplished distance runners - top five state placers in track and cross country with team and individual titles in their scrapbooks.
Now there’s Lynn’s son Nathan, another wisp of a youngster with the unmistakeable gait of a star. Already, the Shadle Park freshman is near his dad’s career marks and must outrun North Central’s standouts and Allan Schroeder of Mt. Spokane or meet state standards to qualify for state.
Yes it’s that time of the year. State qualifying is upon us this week, state is next and another school year has flown by.
The state legislature has now become involved in high school sports by passing a law that puts the onus on teams whenever a concussion is involved. This Seattle Times article explains the law passed by the swish of Chris Gregoire’s pen. The idea is admirable, but it seems to be one more case of Big Brother deeming what’s best for we, the unfortunate masses. Don’t we as parents have enough common sense and responsibility, along with coaches and team physicians to look after the health welfare of our children athletes without having one more law hanging over our heads? Apparantly not in the eyes of the elite.
I suppose there are two ways to look at things when it comes to state qualifying baseball playoffs. You figure as the league champion you’re number two pitcher should be good enough to beat the No. 5 seeded upstart. Or you can play it safe, go with your ace and then let the chips fall where they may down the road.
University chose the former and it backfired in a 9-1 loss to Lewis and Clark, which right now is the hottest brand going. Jimmy Reed and Benny Baird are pitching as well as anyone and combined for 13 scoreless innings for two district playoff victories before U-Hi scored a harmless run in the final inning Wednesday night. The Tigers run the bases with abandon 1-through-9 and used that speed to good advantage. And everyone hit.
CV chose the latter, got a brilliant six innings from J.T. Beach and beat Mead 6-2.
LC plays CV for a regional berth and the district championship Friday, 7 p.m. at Avista Stadium. The Tigers would have to go back to 2002 for the last time they were this close and maybe even two decades that they last had this many wins. Who’da thunk it.
The Titans will pitch ace Billy Moon against Mead in loser out on Friday, both hoping to survive, then let the devil take the hindmost with available pitching on Saturday against either the Bears or Tigers.
Here’s my story for tomorrow’s S-R: