Postseason high school football is here.
The foundations teams started to establish more than two months ago followed by adjustments and improvement through regular-season play will play a significant role in how far teams advance in November.
The question that will begin to be answered this week is whether an area team has a run in it like Gonzaga Prep and Almira/Coulee-Hartline a year ago.
Here’s a look at the matchups (all games are Friday unless noted):
Chiawana Riverhawks (8-1) at Gonzaga Prep (7-2), 6 p.m.
Road to the postseason: Chiawana finished second in the Mid-Columbia Conference and G-Prep captured the Greater Spokane League title.
Statistical leaders: Chiawana ranked first in defense and second in offense in MCC. Running back Andrew Vargas has 2,232 yards – more than 1,000 more than next closest in MCC – and 35 touchdowns. Sophomore Connor Halonen leads G-Prep with 646 yards in league. As a team, G-Prep has rushed for 2,162 – 70 short of Vargas. But that yardage is spread around five players.
At a glance: This comes down to can one player (Vargas) trump an offense that features multiple weapons. Richland held Vargas to his lowest total (170) this season. The danger in putting too many defenders in the box to stop Vargas is Chiawana can go to its other staple – play-action passing. G-Prep’s defense will enjoy the challenge. G-Prep and Chiawana were co-ranked at No. 7 in the final poll Wednesday.
Central Valley Bears (8-2) vs. Richland Bombers (9-0), Lampson Stadium, 7
Road to the postseason: Richland captured the MCC title and CV finished second in the GSL.
Statistical leaders: Richland quarterback Paxton Stevens has thrown for 2,075 yards and 24 TDs. RB Ben Stanfield has 694 yards. CV is led by RB Braedon Orrino, who has gained 1,028 in league to go with 13 TDs.
At a glance: These teams met in the first round of the state playoffs last year, and the Bombers handled the Bears 30-3. There’s no doubt that CV is much better this season in all facets, especially on offense. In addition to Orrino, QB Conner DeGeest has a solid core of receivers. The Bombers are ranked second. The Bears will have their hands full.
Mt. Spokane Wildcats (4-5) at Eastside Catholic Crusaders (8-1), Saturday, 2
Road to the postseason: EC finished second in the Metro Mountain division behind No. 1-ranked O’Dea and defeated West Seattle 56-14 in a crossover seeding game last week. The Wildcats won the GSL title.
Statistical leaders: EC is led by QB Ze’Shaun Lewis, who passed for 1,763 yards and 16 TDs in seven games. Three receivers have caught 30 or more passes. Although receiver Caleb Countryman has been the top target, Mt. Spokane has gone to rotating quarterbacks Andrew Viehman and Brady Hill each play.
At a glance: The Wildcats are in tough against the two-time defending state champs on the road. EC’s lone loss was 20-17 to O’Dea. The Crusaders opened the season with a 21-7 home win over G-Prep.
IDAHO, 5A QUARTERFINALS
Coeur d’Alene Vikings (6-3) at Eagle Mustangs (9-0), 5
Road to the postseason: Eagle won its division in the Boise area and CdA finished second in the 5A Inland Empire League and defeated Borah 54-13 in a first-round game last week.
Statistical leaders: Eagle ranked first in defense among the 12 Southern Idaho Conference teams, allowing just 10.6 points per game. Eagle is balanced offensively and is led by QB Devan Bridgewater, who has thrown for 1,263 yards and rushed for 344. CdA’s offense centers around QB Colson Yankoff, who has passes for 2,700 yards and 25 TDs and rushed for a team-leading 882 yards and 21 TDs. The Viks feature seven different receivers with 15 or more catches.
At a glance: CdA coach Shawn Amos says the teams are evenly matched. The Viks dominated Borah but were victims of their own mistakes – namely penalties. Eagle has been ranked No. 1 since mid September and held that spot in the final poll this week. “They are very physical on defense and run the ball well,” Amos said.
Rocky Mountain Grizzlies (8-2) vs. Lewiston Bengals (9-0), Kibbie Dome, 7
Road to the postseason: The Grizzlies, who won a first-round game last week, finished second in their division behind Eagle. Lewiston captured the 5A IEL title.
Statistical leaders: Rocky ranked fourth in offense and seventh in defense in the 12-team SIC. RB Carter Kuehl has rushed for more than 1,600 yards in a run-heavy offense. Lewiston QB Colton Richardson has thrown for 3,157 yards and 39 TDs with only three interceptions. WR Alex Light has 66 receptions for 1,155 yards and 15 TDs and Riley Way has 50 catches for 774 and 20 TDs.
At a glance: Rocky throttled Lewiston 65-20 on its way to a state title last year. The second-ranked Bengals are looking to avenge the loss. The Grizzlies’ defense will be stretched defending the Bengals’ aerial attack.
IDAHO, 4A QUARTERFINAL
Blackfoot Broncos (7-3) at Lakeland Hawks (5-4), 7
Road to the postseason: Blackfoot took second in its conference and won a first-round game last week. Lakeland captured the IEL title.
Statistical leaders: Lakeland’s run first-and-often attack is led by RB Wyatt Gatten (770 yards). The Broncos featured a balanced offense.
At a glance: Lakeland’s record is misleading. Three of the Hawks’ four losses have come by a combined four points. Led by a junior-based team, Lakeland has had a solid season. “We’re the type of team that can’t play without 100 percent intensity,” Lakeland coach Tim Kiefer said. “(Blackfoot) has a lot of formations. It’ll be a challenge for our defense to adjust to all of the formations.”
IDAHO, 3A QUARTERFINAL
Gooding Senators (6-4) at Timberlake Tigers (3-6), Saturday, 1
Road to the postseason: Gooding finished second in conference and won a first-round game last week and Timberlake captured the Intermountain League title.
Statistical leaders: Timberlake has rushed for 1,961 yards. Leading the way has been Caleb Munson (747).
At a glance: Three of Gooding’s four losses have come against teams with a combined three losses. Timberlake opened the season with six straight losses and then swept its league opponents, gaining some confidence. Still, the Tigers have a thin margin for error. They must play well and hope being at home instead of traveling proves beneficial.
IDAHO, 2A QUARTERFINAL
North Fremont Huskies (6-3) vs. St. Maries Lumberjacks (9-0), Saturday, Kibbie Dome, 12:30
Road to the postseason: North Fremont took second in league and won first-round game last week. St. Maries captured the Central Idaho League title and won a first-round game last week.
Statistical leaders: St. Maries QB Kiefer Gibson has thrown for 1,818 yards, 30 TDs and just three interceptions. Nine different Lumberjacks have caught TD passes.
At a glance: No. 1-ranked St. Maries can surely move the ball but its strength is clearly its aggressive defense. The Lumberjacks had eight sacks in their 34-8 win over Melba last Saturday. More of the same will cause the Huskies problems. “They are a very aggressive defense,” St. Maries coach Craig Teft said of North Fremont. “It should be a physical game.”
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