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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Football notebook: G-Prep coach Dave McKenna never flinched about going for two points

In this Aug. 17, 2016 file photo, Gonzaga Prep head coach Dave McKenna watches his players work out on the first day of practice on the field at Gonzaga Prep. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
In this Aug. 17, 2016 file photo, Gonzaga Prep head coach Dave McKenna watches his players work out on the first day of practice on the field at Gonzaga Prep. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

As soon as the Gonzaga Prep football team scored in the third overtime last Saturday in Seattle, pulling within a point of Eastside Catholic, coach Dave McKenna immediately called for a two-point conversion attempt.

McKenna didn’t flinch.

“We thought we’d win it, no question in my mind,” McKenna said. “I thought we’d get three yards and win.”

The Bullpups fell a yard short and Eastside Catholic escaped with a wild 42-41 win in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Husky Stadium.

It had been a long day for the Bullpups, who bused over the morning of the game and then had to sit on the bus for three hours waiting for their motel rooms.

“They faced adversity all through the game, and it had been a long day,” McKenna said. “They rolled with the punches and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Win or lose, G-Prep sent a message. To win the Greater Spokane League, a team will have to go through the Bullpups.

It wasn’t a good opening night for the two teams picked to most likely challenge G-Prep. Post Falls topped Mead 54-40 and Coeur d’Alene – without Washington Huskies-bound starting quarterback Colson Yankoff – edged Central Valley 29-27.

G-Prep’s triple-option offense presented all sorts of difficulties for Eastside Catholic.

“I’m probably not going to put them on the schedule next year,” Eastside Catholic coach and Sandpoint native Jeremy Thielbahr told the Seattle Times. “The triple option is very hard to prepare for in Week 1. It’s not natural for us. We made some great counterpunches and got the stop at the end. I’d put this one up there with some of the best games we’ve had, and I’ve been here seven years.”

As expected, G-Prep went with converted running back junior Connor Halonen at quarterback. He led the Bullpups with 208 yards rushing on 39 carries and four touchdowns. He completed just one of five passes.

“We’ve got to get better at throwing the ball when we have the chances,” McKenna said.

That’s a familiar refrain. And what usually happens is G-Prep attempts about three passes a game and rolls over opponents in league play.

The scenario will likely continue.

“It was a great football game and we’ve got to get better,” McKenna said. “We came out on the losing end and that’s not fun. However, it’s an experience those kids will never forget.”

The Bullpups fly to San Jose, California, for another intriguing experience to face the Bells of Bellarmine College Prep on Friday.

Around the area

There’s a usual slate of games in the area on Friday. Whether those games are played, though, depends on if the air clears up.

Decisions on whether games are moved or postponed may not be made until Friday morning.

There are a couple of games worth noting: Mead (0-1) visits CdA (1-1) and Post Falls (2-0) is at University (1-0).

Mead will be looking to bounce back after giving up 54 points to Post Falls. It’s not likely that CdA will have the services of Yankoff. How much that levels the playing field remains to be seen.

Post Falls is off to a hot start. The Trojans handled Sandpoint in their opener and University jumped out to a 42-0 lead over Sandpoint last week. So it’ll be interesting to see which defense is able to stop which team when Post Falls and U-Hi square off.

Schedules: Looking ahead

This season marks the end of two-year agreements for nonleague games. Greater Spokane League and Inland Empire League teams will no doubt be looking to lock up games the first two weeks of the season for the next two-year scheduling cycle.

Don’t be surprised, though, if Mead and Mt. Spokane work out a doubleheader on a Saturday on Whitworth’s new turf.

Mead athletic director John Barrington said he would like to see such a doubleheader.

Don’t-miss game

It’s eight weeks away but the Northeast 1B South Division title game will be decided when Almira/Coulee-Hartline visits Odessa.

Both teams return talented cores and could make deep runs in the state playoffs. The division showdown could be the first of two games.

The teams met in the state quarterfinals last year in a game Odessa won before advancing to the state title game.

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