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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Friday Night (High)lights: Gonzaga Prep, Mt. Spokane on collision course for league title; Ridgeline sews up playoff spot

A few Greater Spokane League teams clinched their Week 10 berths this week – whether that means District 8 playoffs in 4A or the “Round of 32” in the expanded 3A tournament. But several playoff spots are still up for grabs, especially in the wide-open 2A ranks.

Here are our weekly five thoughts (plus one) about the football performances in the GSL and Eastern Washington.

The big one

Gonzaga Prep and Mt. Spokane both held serve this week, with lopsided wins over Central Valley and Cheney, respectively, to set up the de facto league championship game Friday at Union Stadium. It’s a familiar story, but no less intriguing.

The Bullpups rolled up 232 yards on the ground – right at their season average – and were led by a breakout game by their dive back, junior Nate Moinette, with 188 yards and two TDs on 28 carries, all between the tackles.

Mt. Spokane, on the other hand, is a big-play factory, led by senior receiver/safety/returner Bode Gardner.

The track star added four more touchdowns (two receiving, two pick-sixes) to bring his season total to 16 – seven ahead of teammate and second-place Matteo Saccomanno. He’s also had two kickoff return scores called back on penalties.

Gardner averages 38 yards per touchdown.

Third time the charm

Ridgeline clinched the second GSL 3A berth with a 55-7 win over University. The Falcons set school records for points scored in a game, rushing yards in a game and had their first 100-yard rusher as Camden Haddad carried six times for 112 yards and two scores.

Also, receiver Brayden Allen broke his GSL record for receptions in a season, hauling in 12 catches for 98 yards and two TDs. He has 78 with two games to play. Every catch the junior makes also extends his league career receptions record.

In just the program’s third year, the Falcons are definitely on the rise.

Toughing it out

Lewis and Clark and Central Valley are teams going in opposite directions, but it makes for an interesting scenario over the last two games of the season. The league’s second-place 4A team technically makes the playoffs but is destined for the Tuesday play-in game against the Mid-Columbia Conference third-place team – but at least it’ll get to host. After that looms the Big 9 champ.

LC (4-3, 3-3) has won three in a row, including Friday’s 24-21 decision knocking Mead from a playoff possibility. CV, meanwhile, has lost four straight and been shut out twice. But – and it’s a big but – the Bears own the tiebreaker courtesy of a 38-0 win over the Tigers in September.

CV finishes with Ferris and University; LC faces U-Hi and G-Prep.

Battle royaleWest Valley, Shadle Park and Clarkston all won again this week – though WV and SP had nonleague contests – so the top of the GSL 2A ranks is just about as tight as it can get. Status quo, really, as Kansas tiebreakers have been used in recent years to settle playoff berths for this group.

The big matchup this week is Shadle (6-1, 3-1) at Clarkston (5-2, 4-1) on Friday. It’s Clarkston’s final league game and a win will clinch one of the two playoff spots and a Week 10 bye. The Highlanders wouldn’t clinch, but a win would go a long way in their playoff pursuit.

Meanwhile, West Valley (6-1, 4-0) – with wins over Shadle and Clarkston – controls its destiny, with games remaining at Rogers and Pullman to end the season.

True gritAfter its 4-0 start, Rogers ran into a reality check with back-to-back losses to Shadle Park and Clarkston. Every team plays through pain this time of year, but as the classifications get smaller, the injury factor gets bigger. The Pirates were hit harder than most, and where it counts the most – quarterback/safety Aaron Kinsey dealt first with a nagging leg injury, then a right hand/wrist injury that forced him to miss the Clarkston game.

Kinsey came back against East Valley, but not at QB. Wearing a heavy wrap on his right hand, he totaled 12 tackles – three for loss – a sack and blocked a field goal on defense. As an added bonus, he returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown to open up a three-score lead en route to a 27-7 win for Rogers (5-2, 2-2), clinching its fourth winning season since 1970.

Close quarters

Five teams have two or fewer losses in the competitive Northeast A, led by undefeated and third-ranked Lakeside (6-0, 4-0) and one-loss Freeman (5-2, 3-1). The Scotties are at Newport (3-3, 2-2) this week, then host winless Medical Lake to close the season.