Freeman at ColvilleLee: This is the game of the week in the region. The last three years these teams have played, the games have been decided by a combined 10 points. Yes there are four teams undefeated in the NEA at this point, but we’ll look back on this game in a few weeks and say it decided the league championship. It will be a tug of war with Marcus Goldbach of Freeman and Colton Vining of Colville leading the way. I talked to Colville coach Randy Cornwell and he said it will be standing room only Friday. Colville will have about 1,000 fans and Freeman will be well represented. I’m going with the defending state champ in a slugfest. Freeman 20, Colville 13. Adams: In each of the previous two seasons, the Scotties have opened against Colville with mixed results. When the Scotties won, they went on to win the state title. When they lost they wound up getting an early exit in the postseason. Not to overhype it but this game means everything to Freeman. The Scotties should prevail in their toughest regular season game this season. Freeman 21, Colville 14.
Sandpoint at LakelandLee: Before the season started this is the game I thought would decide the 4A IEL title. But Moscow should have a say before it’s decided. Three comparative scores here. Sandpoint and Lakeland both beat Lewiston at Lewiston. Both beat East Valley. And both lost to Post Falls. The point differential heavily favors Sandpoint, which is much improved over last year. I was on Lakeland’s bandwagon early, especially after the Hawks’ 3-0 start. But back-to-back losses to Cheney and Post Falls – granted, both playoff-caliber teams – soured me on Lakeland. Expect some offensive fireworks. Sandpoint 47, Lakeland 28. Adams: It took one of the top big schools in Idaho to do it but the Sandpoint roll finally came to an end last week against Lake City. Lakeland, meanwhile, bounced back from back-to-back losses with a blowout 71-21 win over Timberlake. I’ll go with the home team. Lakeland 21, Sandpoint 14.
Post Falls at Lake CityLee: The Trojans must turn this game into a grinder. They must play ball control, keeping the speedy Timberwolves off the field. This comes down to physicality vs. speed, and speed always trumps strength. As most teams have, Post Falls will be served a healthy dose of Jerry Louie-McGee and Connor Newby, the best one-two tandem in the region. Lake City 43, Post Falls 29. Adams: After a challenging stretch of nonconference games against the likes of Shadle Park, Central Valley, Tumwater and surprising Sandpoint, the Timberwolves open their league slate against a very tough Post Falls squad. Lake City 35, Post Falls 21.
Gonzaga Prep at UniversityLee: The Bullpups’ liabilities – and I’ll keep it general here, not specific – were exposed by Shadle Park in living color on SWX last week. The Bullpups must get back to basics and spring Jack Bamis and Nick Johnson loose for some big runs. And G-Prep must find a way to slow down the U-Hi freight train, Bryce Williamson. The best defense decides this game. G-Prep 30, U-Hi 27. Adams: This is a bounce back game for the Bullpups after a disheartening loss to Shadle Park. But no team has been better at answering the bell than G-Prep. Two years ago, they lost to Central Valley and responded by blasting Chiawana the following week, 55-28. Then last year, they answered losses to Shadle and Mt. Spokane by pulling off wins against Mead and CV. I expect another great response against the Titans. G-Prep 42, U-Hi 28.
Shadle Park vs. Ferris, Albi, 5Lee: The teams tied for the GSL championship last year under what I saw was faulty criteria. Nonetheless, the Highlanders believe they have a score to settle. Ferris employed a 3-8 defense to stymie QB Brett Rypien and his receivers. That won’t happen this time. Ferris doesn’t have enough offense to keep up with Shadle. Shadle 40, Ferris 21. Adams: The Saxons were one of the few teams to figure out how to stymie the Shadle offense last year. You can bet the Highlanders are breaking down tape of that game to make sure that doesn’t happen again. But don’t take my word for it. Consider after that loss on Sept. 12, 2013, Shadle has gone 14-2. The Highlander defense has dramatically improved since then as well. Shadle 34, Ferris 21.
Mead vs. Mt. Spokane, Albi, 7:30Lee: The only ringing of the bell in the Battle of the Bell will be done by the Wildcats. Mead is too one-dimensional offensively – have been for years, really – and the Wildcats’ defense will take care of things. The run-pass development of Mt. Spokane QB Matt Pulliam has been an asset. Mt. Spokane 30, Mead 14. Adams: The Wildcats have been playing by the skin of their teeth lately, losing by seven and three points and then beating Ferris by three. Expect another close one in the Battle of the Bell. Mt. Spokane 20, Mead 13.
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