The first week of state football playoffs is in the books. While the local herd was thinned a bit, the upper classifications of the Greater Spokane League made a statement.
Without further adieu, let’s go right to the games.
Actions speak louder
Some thought that Gonzaga Prep was slighted last week when the WIAA seeding committee awarded the Bullpups the sixth seed in the 4A bracket.
G-Prep has won its past 16 games and was ranked by state media in the top three and rated by the WIAA RPI in the top five all season long.
The Bullpups showed seed didn’t matter with a 56-7 romp over undersized Moses Lake out of the Columbia Basin Big 9.
As Vin Scully used to say, “it’s interesting to note” that with Moses Lake and Eastmont’s losses over the weekend, the Big 9 has lost nine consecutive state playoff games, outscored 410-99 over that period.
Regardless, Gonzaga Prep dominated both sides of the ball and showcased how much it’s built for the postseason, running it 41 times for 359 yards and six touchdowns while adding scores on a fumble return and kickoff return.
The Bullpups travel to third-seeded Lake Stevens next week, so seniors Ryan McKenna, Kaz Melzer, Ephraim Watkins and Luciano Reynolds have played their last games at Bullpups Stadium. They certainly went out on a high note.
Mt. Spokane’s RPI suffered due to a weaker strength of schedule this season and entered the state 3A bracket as the No. 10 seed, meaning a 5-hour first-round road trip to Arlington to face the seventh-seeded Eagles.
But as Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang in the 1970s, the Wildcats have been takin’ care of business all season long, regardless the opponent put in front of them.
Mt. Spokane got two rushing touchdowns from Blake Speer and Ethan Carrell returned an onside kickoff attempt 52 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to seal the 38-24 win at John Larson Stadium.
For their efforts, the Wildcats get to travel to second-seeded Eastside Catholic in a quarterfinal next week.
The GSL 2A schools had a rough go of it over the weekend, as champion Shadle Park was shut out by third-seeded North Kitsap 42-0 on Saturday and East Valley was handled by top-seeded Tumwater 56-7 on Friday.
It’s indicative of the strength of the league this year that its two playoff seeds were 14 and 16.
The GSL 2A, made up of the former Great Northern League plus former 3A schools playing down due to the reclassification last year, is still a league in flux. Let’s hope the member schools will find their footing at the state level.
The Northeast A sent three teams to the round of 16 and darn near had a fourth as Caribou Trail League champ Omak barely edged fourth-place Newport in a crossover a week ago.
Omak didn’t have the same luck against NEA champs Lakeside. The undefeated Eagles routed the Pioneers 42-0 on Friday as Kole Hunsaker tossed two TD passes to Calvin Mikkelsen and the defense earned its third shutout and eighth game of fewer than 10 points allowed this season.
Second-place Riverside didn’t have it as easy as Lakeside, but the Rams outlasted Montesano 27-20 to advance.
Meanwhile, Freeman was on the losing side of history as it’s believed that Tenino became the first 1A school to score 80 points in a state playoff game in an 80-55 win over the Scotties. That might sound bad, but it was an 11-point game entering the fourth quarter.
Gem State update
Give Sandpoint credit. The Bulldogs are carrying the flag for all of North Idaho right into the 4A title game.
Quarterback Parker Pettit used everything he had to muscle into the end zone on a 2-point conversion in overtime to lift the Bulldogs over Blackfoot 29-28 in a semifinal Friday night.
That came after he found Arie VanDenBerg for a 14-yard TD following Blackfoot’s score.
Top-seeded Sandpoint (8-2) will face either No. 2 Pocatello or No. 6 Skyline in the title game next week.
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