We’re not going to lie – it was a long weekend. There was a lot going on in high school sports, with state and district playoffs going on in football, soccer and volleyball spread out across the state.
We covered Mt. Spokane’s State 3A football game from the frozen tundra of Union Stadium, then jumped in the car early in the morning (with our under-the-weather personal photographer) to drive down to Kennewick to cover Gonzaga Prep’s 4A game.
All the while, we kept an eye on our email inboxes, Twitter, Scorebook Live and elsewhere, patiently waiting for the WIAA’s playoff bracket page to update from various venues across the state.
We’re not looking for pity or praise. The couple of weeks each sports season surrounding the district and state playoffs are some of the most exciting on the calendar, not just for the athletes and coaches but for the media too.
But we are looking forward to some upcoming time off to see family we haven’t shared time with since the pandemic. Apologies to teams playing this weekend for our absence, but we’ll have correspondents at all the major events to make sure our coverage doesn’t suffer while we’re on the East Coast.
Big D for Bullpups
After Kamiakin scored its second touchdown of the first quarter, it looked like the Braves offense might run away from Gonzaga Prep in their 4A first-round game.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The G-Prep defense stiffened, stuffing a punt attempt which led to a TD, then an interception led to a second and the Pups led by one at half.
Then on the second play of the second half, William Alexander-Durr jumped an out route, came up with the interception, and went 38 yards for a touchdown to stretch the Bullpups’ lead to 20-12.
G-Prep’s run game took over from there, imposing its will in the third and fourth quarters building a two TD lead.
The Bullpups defense changed the nature of that game – and Gonzaga Prep advanced to a quarterfinal with a chance to exact revenge against the team that knocked them out last year.
Though their seasons ended with first-round losses, let’s give props to the campaigns Mt. Spokane and Mead put together this season.
No one on the other side of the state expected much out of either this year – Mt. Spokane had one starter returning and Mead is a program still building back.
Both showed that they are to be underestimated at your peril.
All the Wildcats did was win every game against in-state opponents, beating Gonzaga Prep and Mead en route to the Greater Spokane League title and undefeated league season – its first in program history. Mt. Spokane wasn’t ranked by state media until the win over G-Prep in Week 8.
Meanwhile, the Panthers took G-Prep to the final whistle in their fourth game of the season, then bounced back to win four in a row and had a chance to force a three-way tie for the league before bowing to the Wildcats.
Coaches Terry Cloer and Keith Stamps and their staffs did exemplary jobs this season and they have their programs positioned to be right there again next year.
Two teams whose season are continuing are Lakeside and Freeman, a pair of Northeast A teams that used a week off to get healthy and recharged, then took care of business in their first-round games.
There are nine teams above 1B with an undefeated record, and the Eagles of Nine Mile Falls, led by all-everything QB Kole Hunsaker, are one of them – and the only one in 1A.
They finished No. 2 in the state media poll, despite having more first-place votes than No. 1 Royal. Lakeside cruised past 15th-seeded Bellevue Christian and hosts 10th-seeded Mount Baker in a quarterfinal.
Freeman – unranked and No. 13 in the RPI – was the 12th seed and upended fifth-seeded King’s, which held the top spot in RPI until the Scotties knocked them off. They’ll play road warriors again this week, facing fourth-seeded Eatonville, the new RPI leader, on Saturday.
Small school success
Eighth-seeded Liberty survived its first-round game against ninth-seeded River View to join Chewelah, which had a bye, in the 2B quarterfinals. The Lancers draw top-seeded Napavine, while Chewelah hosts fifth-seeded Toledo.
Should both teams win, they will face each other in a semifinal.
Odessa, which had a bye, gets eighth-seeded Naselle – which routed Almira/Coulee-Hartline 54-6 in a replay of last year’s semifinal.
And Wellpinit, which broke in a brand-new turf field this season, won its first state playoff game in school history, a 26-22 decision over Pomeroy. Wellpinit travels to face second-seeded Neah Bay in a quarter.
Congratulations to Oakesdale, winning its ninth 1B state title in the past 11 seasons, sweeping all four matches it played, including the title winner over second-seeded Mossyrock.
And kudos as well to Colfax, which reached the title match out of the No. 4 seed, falling to La Conner in four sets.
The big schools have the stage – er, the floor – at the Yakima Valley SunDome this weekend.
Gonzaga Prep beat Richland in the district title match and drew the 10th seed to state. The Bullpups face seventh-seeded Graham-Kapowsin in a first-round match Friday.
District 8 champion Mead is the No. 2 seed in 3A, while Mt. Spokane swept Ridgeline in the district second-place match Saturday to secure its bid to state. The Wildcats were awarded the No. 4 seed, earning a match against a play-in winner in the first round.
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