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Greg Lee: G-Prep, ACH football had memorable seasons

Talk about stepping up.

The Gonzaga Prep football team’s offense – maligned some in the postseason – had one of its better games in the biggest game.

An appropriate term would be clutch.

And the offense could have had more points to show for it too. Consider the Bullpups fumbled the ball through the end zone on their first possession. Then after a Skyline turnover, G-Prep was knocking on the end zone door again but turned the ball over on downs when a Skyline defender knocked down a halfback pass from Evan Weaver.

Skyline couldn’t slow down the Bullpups, who set four state final records for rushing yards (521), attempts (83), first downs (29) and total yards (564).

Those are staggering numbers. Just as impressive was 32 minutes and 35 seconds time of possession to Skyline’s 15:25.

“If it wasn’t for our offensive line this wouldn’t have been possible,” G-Prep quarterback Liam Bell said. “They played to perfection.”

Skyline had fits with the Bullpups’ flexbone. When offensive coordinator Bob Cassano called two reverses for sophomore Devin Culp – both in the first half – the Spartans were out of position.

Culp’s speed in the open field allowed him to sprint 59 yards untouched on the second reverse.

And to think Culp didn’t want to turn out this year. Thankfully for G-Prep, Culp’s mom didn’t allow not turning out to be an option.

Weaver started at running back. G-Prep wanted to send a physical message early.

The Bullpups called it punching the Spartans in the mouth.

The message was delivered.

A handful of Skyline coaches were next to me along press row. Try as they might, they couldn’t offer any answers to stopping the Bullpups.

As confident as Weaver was before the season about how things would play out, even he wouldn’t spell out specifically what the end would look like. But he knew.

“I’ll just say it should be a special year,” Weaver told me back in August.

If Weaver held back because coach Dave McKenna asked him to hold his tongue, that’s fine. If Weaver did it because he was exercising his own restraint, good on him.

There was chatter in the Seattle/Tacoma area that the west bracket was top loaded and more difficult than the east bracket.

Three of the four undefeated teams, including No. 1-ranked Camas, earned placement in the west bracket.

One by one, Skyline knocked them off and set its sights on the final undefeated team.

G-Prep didn’t play any slouches in the playoffs. Woodinville and Richland were more than deserving participants.

The Bullpups more than handled the team that knocked off the undefeated teams in its path.

And there was no doubt – no doubt – G-Prep was the best team in the Tacoma Dome late Saturday night.

In five of the six finals – the exception being 3A, pitting Eastside Catholic and Bellevue – teams east of the Cascades prevailed.

That included Almira/Coulee-Hartline.

After a season-opening loss to Liberty Christian – a team heavily favored to get to the title game – the Warriors could have decided that they didn’t have a chance, not with Liberty Christian awaiting if they made it to the semifinals.

But what a story the kids from three communities wrote.

A week after outplaying one of the best 8-man players in state history – record-setting Liberty Christian quarterback John Lesser – ACH’s Dallas Isaak put together another all-over-the-field effort.

“This is the coolest thing ever,” Isaak said. “It’s unreal.”

Isaak had lots of help – specifically from a pair of sophomores, Payton Nielsen and Parker Zappone.

“Huge, huge, huge,” Isaak said of the sophomores. “We had so many people step up. I’m so proud of my guys. They really made the plays when it mattered.”

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