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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Skyline handles Ferris

The Skyline Spartans are a dazzling football team.

The Sammamish team pulled away from Ferris in the second half with a 45-21 win in the 4A state championship game Saturday evening at the Tacoma Dome.

Click below to read my unedited game story.

By Greg Lee; (208)-765-7127

TACOMA – The balance was absolutely paralyzing.

Ferris football coach Jim Sharkey’s worst fear was realized as his Saxons couldn’t contain Skyline’s multiple weapons.

Running and passing with equal ease, Skyline captured a third straight state championship, flattening Ferris 45-21 in the State 4A final Saturday night in the Gridiron Classic at the Tacoma Dome.

Skyline (12-2) secured the win when a pair of Spartans sandwiched Ferris quarterback Connor Halliday, forcing an errant pass that was picked off by lineman Jake Carlson and returned to the Saxons’ 11-yard line with 8:37 remaining.

Two plays later, quarterback Jake Heaps hit Connor Brandt on a short post for a 15-yard touchdown as Skyline extended its lead to 38-21 with 7:51 to play.

“We’re pleased with the effort. We played hard,” Halliday said. “It just came down to we didn’t have any type of running game and we couldn’t stop theirs. (I was) real impressed with their balance. Usually with a high school team you can pick on a couple guys. Their defense, there wasn’t one weak link to pick on. Top to bottom they’re a great team.”

Sharkey agreed.

“We played real hard. They’re just better than us, especially up front,” Sharkey said. “Their offensive and defensive lines, their team speed on defense … they’re a real special group.”

Skyline started to put the game out of reach in the third quarter. Ferris (10-4) tried a trick play in which wide receiver Jordan Tonani took a lateral from Halliday and threw a deep pass. But it was picked off.

The Spartans made the  turnover hurt, scoring eight plays when the Brigham Young University-bound Heaps lofted a 26-yard pass that future NCAA Division I signee Kasan Williams ran under in the end zone. The touchdown widened the Spartans’ lead to 31-14 with 5:28 left in the third quarter.

The score would remain the same going into the fourth.

The Saxons pulled within the halftime margin, though, 10 seconds into the final period when Halliday found Tonani on a 1-yard pass on fourth and goal, making the score 31-21.

Sharkey knew Skyline’s balance would be difficult to thwart.

“We knew that coming in,” Sharkey said. “We were hoping to get a couple of turnovers, but they took care of the ball.”

Tonani could only praise the Spartans.

“They’re a very solid team,” he said. “It’s pretty hard to beat a team like that. They can run the ball just as well as they can throw it. That’s something you don’t see on film. But when you get out here and play, they’re so good.”

Ferris, which was seeking to capture the Greater Spokane League’s fifth state title, had to feel fortunate to still be in the game after a Spartan-dominated first half.

On the Saxons’ opening possession, they needed 22-yard run by Gage Orosco on a fake punt to keep their possession alive. Ferris capped the 13-play, 71-yard possession with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Halliday to Jason Bates with 7:17 showing on the clock.

Then Ferris forced Skyline to punt on its first possession.

But the Saxons’ fast start seemed to only stall the inevitable. The Spartans forced a three-and-out by Ferris.

Skyline evened the score when Heaps hit Kasan Williams for a 15-yard TD. Williams started in motion out of the backfield and somehow got behind a Saxon cornerback for the score with 1:41 remaining in the first quarter.

Halliday had three straight incomplete passes on the next series. Skyline immediately seized momentum when running back Nick Washburn took a direct snap and dashed 5 yards for a TD, giving the Spartans a 14-7 lead with 11:47 to go before halftime.

The Saxons used two pass interference penalties to move to Skyline’s 37-yard line. But following an injury time out on third and four from the Spartans 37, Halliday moved a step or two to his right in shot gun as he barked instructions. The ball was snapped where he had been standing. The Saxons recovered the loose ball, but not after losing 18 yards and being forced to punt.

Skyline made the botched play hurt. The Spartans drove 77 yards on eight plays as Williams made an athletic catch despite being bracketed by two Saxons for a 15-yard TD connection with Heaps. The point-after kick extended Skyline’s lead to 21-7 with 4:45 to go in the second period.

If Ferris was going to have any shot at this point, it had to manufacture a drive. The Saxons responded, beginning at their 39. They converted a fourth-and-11 situation when Halliday hit Jordan Tonani for a 27-yard gain to the Skyline 5. How Tonani managed to make the catch against the sideline and get a foot down is anybody’s guess.

Ferris started backing up, ultimately facing fourth-and-goal from the 11. Instead of attempting a field goal – Sharkey must have sensed three points wasn’t going to do much good in what was building up to be a shootout – Halliday found Bates for a TD despite triple coverage in the end zone. That pulled the Saxons within 21-14 with 57 seconds to go before intermission.

The quick-strike Spartans made efficient use of the final seconds. Heaps completed three passes and scrambled for 10 yards as Skyline got to the Ferris 19. With two seconds to go, Sean Penberthy split the uprights with a 36-yard field goal.

Skyline piled up 246 yards total offense in the first half to the Saxons’ 136. Halliday accounted for all but two of those yards as he completed 16 of 27 passes.

Both Heaps and Halliday finished with 254 yards. Heaps completed 15 of 25 including four TDs while Halliday connected 26 times on 44 attempts, including three TDs.

Beauchamp led all rushers with 115 yards on 18 carries.

Greg Lee
Greg Lee joined The Spokesman-Review in 1984. He currently is a prep reporter covering Eastern Washington and North Idaho schools.

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