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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

State football preview: Gonzaga Prep, Mead, Mt. Spokane lead area teams to state tourneys

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 7, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

Gonzaga Prep’s Connor Halonen  hands the ball off to teammate Zane Melzer  in a playoff game against the Hanford Falcons at Gonzaga Prep last Friday.  The Bullpups beat the Falcons 28-24. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Prep’s Connor Halonen hands the ball off to teammate Zane Melzer in a playoff game against the Hanford Falcons at Gonzaga Prep last Friday. The Bullpups beat the Falcons 28-24. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

State football starts this week with 10 teams in Washington slated for action on Friday or Saturday.

There are small-school berths to state available as well, and two Idaho teams face semifinal foes – including a showdown of the two top-ranked teams in the highest classification.


(10) Eastlake at (7) Gonzaga Prep: Saturday at 1 p.m. The Bullpups (8-2) finished the season undefeated in the Greater Spokane League and ranked eighth in state. G-Prep churned out a stunning fourth-quarter comeback last week, getting a 5-yard TD pass from Connor Halonen to RB Zane Melzer with 6.5 seconds left on the clock to beat Hanford 28-24 in a crossover. G-Prep ground out 375 rushing yards, led by Halonen (122), Jacob Parola (105) and Melzer (90). Halonen has 937 rushing yards in his last five games.

Eastlake (8-2) placed second in the KingCo 4A. The Wolves knocked off ninth-ranked Glacier Peak 25-9 in a crossover last week to gain entry to state for the fourth time in five years. QB Grady Robinson paced Eastlake, rushing for 93 yards with a 22-yard TD run and passing for 176 yards with two TDs.

(11) Mead at (6) Graham-Kapowsin: Saturday at 1. Ryan Blair threw three touchdown passes – two to favorite target Michael Workman – and the GSL No. 2 seed Panthers (7-3) beat the MCC No. 2 seed Richland 35-21 in a crossover game to reach state. Isaiah Saldana (71 yards, two TDs) and Cam Crawford (19 carries, 102 yards) are the workhorse backs. Mead has reeled off three straight impressive wins down the stretch to enter state on a roll.

G-K finished second in the South Puget Sound league and is ranked fifth in state. Senior QB Dylan Morris – a Washington Huskies commit – has 19 TD passes and over 1,500 yards passing. The Eagles piled up 575 yards in a 59-20 district playoff win over Monroe last week. Morris went 8 of 18 for 121 yards and three TDs while Shabro Johnson added 226 rushing yards.


(9) Mt. Spokane at (8) Timberline: Friday at 7. Eighth-ranked Mt Spokane (7-2) is led by senior QB Brady Hill, who missed a good chunk of the season with a broken arm. Sophomore Jeter Schuerman filled in at QB while Hill was out and last week gained 139 yards on 23 carries. The defense is stout, shutting out G-Prep earlier this season and holding Kennewick to 106 yards in the district crossover win last week.

Timberline (8-2) was second in the South Sound Conference and is ranked ninth in state. The Blazers forced five turnovers and blanked Oak Harbor 21-0 last week – its third shutout of the campaign – in a crossover to reach state. Blazers QB Hunter Campau finished 8 of 11 for 142 yards and two touchdowns in the win.


(12) Ellensburg at (5) West Valley: Saturday at 1. The Great Northern League-champion Eagles (9-1, 4-0) trounced Ephrata 33-7 last week in a crossover game. QB Matt Allen ran for 105 yards and two TDs – including a 52-yard jaunt – while tossing two scores. The Eagles are ranked fifth in state and their lone loss this season was to GSL 3A champ Shadle Park in Week 2.

Ellensburg (5-4) finished second in the Central Washington Athletic Conference and topped GNL No. 2 Pullman in a crossover to reach state. Brady Helgeson finished with 142 yards and a TD on 26 carries as the Bulldogs accumulated 334 yards on the ground and built a 31-0 lead after three quarters.


(12) Connell at (5) Colville: Saturday at 1. The Northeast A champion Indians (7-2) were undefeated in league and had a bye last week while others participated in crossover games. Colville started out 0-2 but recovered to cruise through league play, including a 28-7 win over second-place Newport and 35-0 rout of third-place Riverside.

Connell (7-2), second in South Central-East and ranked fourth in state, crushed Granger 61-6 in a crossover playoff to earn the district’s second state seed. Chandler Salisbury had 288 passing yards with three TDs.

(10) Newport at (7) La Salle: Saturday at 6. The Grizzlies (8-1) are ranked sixth and topped Okanogan 22-7 in a crossover last week. Daniel Bradbury is the lead back and he had 236 yards with four TDs in a win over Lakeside two weeks ago.

The Lightning (8-1) took second in the the South Central-West and handled Warden 34-20 in a crossover last week. Kieran Kershaw rushed for three TDs and added a passing touchdown. He has 17 TD passes this season

(16) Riverside at (1) Royal: Friday at 7. The Rams (6-4), who won a three-way tiebreaker just to reach a crossover, beat Omak 26-14 to reach state. Michael Zanoni and Sammy DesRoches are the go-to backs.

They’ll have their hands full with the unanimous pick of top team in state 1A. Royal (10-0), champion of the South Central-East, scored 56 points in the first quarter in a 78-3 win over Naches Valley last week. Senior Alonso Hernandez finished with 106 yards on seven carries – with five TDs.


(12) Columbia (Burbank) at (5) Chewelah: Friday at 7. The Cougars (7-3), in their first year playing as a 2B, went undefeated in the Northeast 2B and are ranked 10th in state. They crushed Colfax 35-0 in a crossover last week as Jake Jeanneret had 192 passing yards with two TDs.

Columbia (8-2) was second in the Eastern Washington League. The Coyotes crushed Oroville 63-15 in a crossover to reach state.

(10) Pe Ell/Willapa Valley at (7) Northwest Christian: Saturday at 1. NWC (8-2) finished a game behind Chewelah in league. The Crusaders, ranked ninth in state, edged fifth-ranked Asotin 23-20 in a crossover last week as Aiden Tibbetts made a 30-yard field goal with 1 second to go. All-everything Silas Perreiah is the feature back.

Pe Ell/WV (9-2) went undefeated in Southwest Washington-Coastal and beat Winlock 46-0 in a crossover to reach state last week.

(11) Reardan at (6) Toledo: Saturday at 1. The Indians (8-2) went through league undefeated and are ranked seventh in state. They handled Wilbur-Creston 35-6 in a crossover last week as Cade Francis caught a TD pass and returned a fumble for a score. Tyler Sprecher is the featured back for the Indians.

Toledo (6-4) was second in Southwest Washington-River and upended sixth-ranked Onalaska 35-6 in a crossover last week.


This weekend features 1B crossovers to decide playoffs spots for the Northeast 1B and Southeast 1B leagues.

Tekoa-Rosalia (7-2, 6-0) won the NE 1B North Division and will host Almira/Coulee-Hartline (9-1, 6-1), No. 2 in the NE 1B South – and ranked second in state.

ACH’s only loss this season was to Odessa (10-0, 7-0), the NE 1B South champ and top-ranked team in the state. The Tigers host NE 1B North No. 2 Republic (6-4, 4-2).

SE 1B champ and third-ranked Sunnyside Christian (9-1) hosts NE 1B North No. 3 Selkirk (5-4, 4-2) on Saturday.

SE 1B No. 2 Garfield-Palouse (9-2, 8-1), ranked fourth in state, was ousted by independent Lyle-Wishram-Klickitat 38-16 in a play-in game on Tuesday.


Coeur d’Alene at Rocky Mountain: Friday at 7. The second-ranked Vikings (9-0) face the No. 1 Grizzlies (10-0) in a 5A State semifinal. The Inland Empire League champ allowed two punt return touchdowns but outlasted Borah 37-34 in a quarterfinal game last week as Kale Edwards scored on a 4-yard run with 36.7 seconds left. Edwards had 320 passing yards with two passing and two rushing TDs.

Rocky Mountain topped Madison 28-7 in a quarterfinal last week.

Homedale at Timberlake, Saturday at 1: The Intermountain League-champion Tigers (7-3) edged South Fremont 36-35 in a state quarterfinal last week. Jeremy McLemore had two rushing TDs for Timberlake, which owns a win over GSL 3A Rogers and NEA Freeman this season.

District 3 champ Homedale got past Gooding 41-21 in a quarterfinal last week.

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