Greater Spokane League football coaches predicted as much before the season began.
They warned that the league would be chock full of parity and not one team would breeze through unscathed.
As former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green famously blared at the top of his lungs, “They are who we thought they were.”
Or the teams are who the coaches thought they’d be.
Another entry in the anybody-can-beat-anybody column occurred Friday when 1-4 Ferris stunned Shadle Park.
The teams shared the league championship in the final year of the 10-team, one division format last year.
The same defensive scheme Ferris employed a year ago – a stacked 3-8 with three down linemen, six defenders for short-range passes and two in deep coverage – worked for a second straight year. Oh, the Saxons allowed yards, even a Hail Mary at the end of the first half for a go-ahead touchdown as time expired that seemed to thwart the Saxons’ momentum. And Highlanders quarterback Brett Rypien scrambled for 145 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 17 carries.
Rypien also managed to throw for 321 yards and four TDs despite missing two starting receivers out with injuries – Cam Duty (concussion) and Jahden Nguyen (knee).
It didn’t matter. The night belonged to Ferris running back Jalen Hicks, who broke the Saxons’ all-time single game rushing record with 360 yards, six shy of the GSL’s all-time record of 366 set by Scott Campbell of East Valley in 2003.
A Tweet was posted on Twitter following the game, saying that Ferris upset Shadle.
A person with close ties to the Saxons sent a text flatly stating it wasn’t an upset. The person acknowledged that the overall quality of play in the league is down but that the games for the most part have been highly competitive.
The 4A teams play league games the final three weeks. The 3A teams, which have yet to play each other, do so as well to finish the season.
There’s much less mystery among the 3A teams. Shadle and Mt. Spokane have clearly established that they should be playing for the league title and accompanying two postseason berths when they face off the last week.
All six 4A teams, though, are mathematically alive in the chase for the two postseason berths. University and Mead, at 0-2, must win out and get some help. It’s highly unlikely that a team with three league losses will get into a playoff scenario for a postseason berth.
Gonzaga Prep, with its telling victory over U-Hi on Friday, joined Central Valley at 2-0. Lewis and Clark and Ferris are at 1-1 with LC having the head-to-head edge.
It’s anything but an easy road for G-Prep and CV. First, there won’t be an undefeated team after next week since they square off at G-Prep on Friday.
After that, G-Prep finishes with LC and Ferris and CV concludes with Ferris and district rival U-Hi.
LC has match-ups with U-Hi, G-Prep and Mead while Ferris goes against Mead, CV and G-Prep.
For U-Hi to remain in the hunt it must beat LC, Mead and CV and Mead must beat Ferris, U-Hi and LC.
Here’s one way things could finish: G-Prep 5-0, LC 3-2, Ferris 3-2, CV 3-2, U-Hi 1-4 and Mead 0-5. In such a scenario, G-Prep and LC, Ferris and CV would meet in a mini playoff.
That’s just one scenario, though. A number of things could happen – and likely will, considering how competitive teams have been so far.
• Colville’s 28-7 win over defending State 1A champ Freeman was nothing short of impressive.
The Indians snapped Freeman’s 19-game winning streak. All of a sudden Colville has vaulted into the state title contenders conversation.
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