Three teams remain from the region in the state football playoffs. The survivors include an underdog, a definitive favorite and a team coming off a dominant shutout.
Here’s a look at the matchups in the semifinal round for each.
All games on Saturday.
(12) Freeman (9-2) vs. (1) Royal (10-1): 3 p.m., Lions Stadium in Moses Lake. The Scotties are the lowest-seeded team remaining in any of the six classifications, but they aren’t playing like an underdog the past few weeks.
Freeman knocked off fifth-seeded King’s and fourth-seeded Eatonville in consecutive weeks. In the quarterfinal win last week, the Scotties’ versatile Luke Whitaker caught three passes for 132 yards and a touchdown and threw a go-ahead TD pass in the fourth quarter.
Their reward is No. 1 Royal – defending champion and winners of five of the past six State 1A championships – which beat eighth-seeded Montesano 41-9 last week. The Knights allow 5.3 points per game with four shutouts and gave up more than one touchdown in a game just once this season in their only loss, a 21-14 decision to Lynden Christian on Sept. 24.
Freeman is led by do-everything Boen Phelps. The senior QB threw for 1,943 yards with 18 TDs and rushed for 929 yards on 111 carries with 13 scores and made 134 tackles from his safety position.
(4) Chewelah (9-2) vs (1) Napavine (11-0): 1 p.m., Tumwater District Stadium.
Chewelah scored on its first two possessions and handled fifth-seeded Toledo 36-0 last week in a quarterfinal. The last time the Cougars reached a state championship game was in 1995 when they were in Class 1A.
Chewelah is led by QB Clayton Jeanneret (22 total touchdowns) and RB Kruz Katzer, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards this season with 18 TDs and led the defense with 96 tackles.
Napavine, making its eighth consecutive trip to the semifinals, dispatched eighth-seeded Liberty 55-7 in a quarterfinal as 2B Central MVP Ashton Demarest (31 passing, 14 rushing TDs in 2022) scored on touchdown runs of 4 and 48 yards and threw TD passes of 24 and 39 yards.
(5) Liberty Bell (10-2) vs (1) Odessa (10-0): Noon, Lions Field.
Gage Starkel had a standout game last week. The senior rushed for a career-high 361 yards on 33 carries with five touchdowns and the No. 1 Tigers edged Naselle 76-74 in a 1B quarterfinal game with a line score that looked more like a basketball game.
For the season, Starkel has 1,721 yards with 26 TDs, and four more scores through the air.
Liberty Bell beat fourth-seeded Mossyrock 54-20 in a quarterfinal to advance. The Mountain Lions are led by QB Riley Lidey, with 31 passing TDs and nine on the ground. His favorite target is WR Sawyer Crandall (12 TD catches).
Odessa downed Liberty Bell 42-22 in Week 1.
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