Previewing The Opening Round of the Football State Playoffs

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The state football tournament is finally upon us. After weeks of schedule changes, cancelations, big victories and shocking defeats, it’s do-or-die time for every football team in the state. Records have been thrown out the window and it’s time for playoff football. 

The Chronicle’s coverage area had seven teams make the state tournament, with 2B No. 2 Napavine the only team off this week with a first-round bye. Read up on the six matchups this week and a prediction for each game from sports editor Eric Trent and reporter Alec Dietz below.  

2A: No. 10 W.F. West (8-2) at No. 7 Prosser (7-1) — 2 p.m., Saturday, at Prosser High School

The Skinny: 

The Bearcats are in the tournament for the first time in four years, and after finishing second in the 2A Evergreen Conference, will play Central Washington Athletic Conference (CWAC) champion Prosser this Saturday. 

The kardiac Mustangs ran through their league unbeaten, with several nail-biting victories throughout the season to earn the seventh-seed and hosting privileges this season. Just last week, the Mustangs rallied from a 19-point deficit to defeat Selah in double overtime.

The Bearcats have had a much different path. Aside from losses to 2A No. 1 Tumwater and 3A No. 14 Kelso, W.F. West has rolled and is now on a six-game win streak. Even without starting quarterback Gavin Fugate, who was lost for the season to a collarbone injury, the Bearcats compiled 315 rushing yards and a 21-7 victory over Mark Morris to make it to state last Friday. 

The Mustangs, who have won seven-straight games, are led by a potent offense and a proficient defense, led by quarterback Kaiden Rivera and a host of weapons like Erik Delgado and Max Flores. Rivera has 23 touchdown passes in just seven games for the Mustangs. 

The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the state quarterfinals to take on the winner of No. 15 Fife and No. 2 Lynden. 

Eric’s prediction: W.F. West

Alec’s prediction: Prosser

2A: No. 16 East Valley (Spokane) (4-3) at No. 1 Tumwater (7-2) —  7 p.m., Friday, at Tumwater High School

The Skinny:

The No. 1 Thunderbirds might have two losses on their schedule, but that’s hardly an indictment on the quality of football they’re playing up in Tumwater. 

The T-Birds smoked through the EvCo, beating W.F. West, Shelton, Black Hills, and Centralia by an average of 34 points per game. Their two losses, to 6A Oregon powerhouse Central Catholic in overtime, and 4A No. 5 Camas by two points, are the only blemishes on an otherwise impressive resume. 

Tumwater is led by its towering Division I tight ends, Ryan Otton and Austin Terry, who are also forces on the defensive side of the ball. Quarterback Alex Overbay has taken over the reins of the offense and has produced since the T-Birds defeat to Camas a few weeks ago. Look for the Thunderbirds to make another deep state run this year. 

The Knights, meanwhile, snuck in as the final seed after a dramatic Kansas tiebreaker, and have a tall task ahead of them. With losses to Shadle Park, Clarkston, and Lynden Christian already, it’ll be an uphill climb for the Eastern Washington squad. 

The winner of Friday night’s game will take on the winner of No. 8 Hockinson and No. 9 Enumclaw in the state quarterfinals. 

Eric’s prediction: Tumwater 

Alec’s prediction: Tumwater

1A: No. 11 Freeman (7-2) at No. 6 Tenino (9-1) — 7 p.m., Friday, at Tenino High School

The Skinny:

The Beavers are in the state tournament for the first time since 2013, and they’ll look to win their first game in the state playoffs since 1986 in the opening round against the Scotties. 

The only blemish on Tenino’s record was a 24-22 loss to No. 2 and undefeated Eatonville, which was the Cruisers’ only real test of the season. The Beavers are averaging 46.6 points per game and allowing just 14.3 to opponents.

The Beavers have rushed past the likes of No. 10 Montesano, 2B No. 5 Onalaska and the like thanks to the rushing prowess of Oregon State University-commit Takari Hickle, Dylan Spicer, Gavin Watson and crew. Hickle and Spicer have each eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards this season.

The Scotties have just one win over a state tournament qualifier this season, 2B No. 11 Brewster. Their two losses are to No. 4 Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) and Riverside (Chattaroy). Freeman is led by its quarterback, Boen Phelps, and versatile playmaker Ryan Russell. 

The winner of Friday night’s matchup will take on the winner of No. 3 Lynden Christian and No. 14 Granite Falls. 

Eric’s prediction: Tenino

Alec’s prediction: Tenino

2B: No. 12 River View (8-2) at No. 5 Onalaska (5-5) —  4 p.m., Saturday, at Tiger Stadium in Centralia

The Skinny:

An up-and-down season for the Loggers ended pretty much exactly as everyone expected, with the gritty Loggers in the state playoffs for the third consecutive season. 

The defending state champions from 2019 played undoubtedly the toughest schedule in all of 2B football, losing to 1A No. 3 Lynden Christian, No. 1 Kalama, No. 2 Napavine, 1A No. 6 Tenino, and Oregon 3A No. 1 Rainier. 

But you can be assured seniors tailbacks and defenders Marshall Haight, Kolby Mozingo, and Gunnar Talley will have a chip on their shoulder and will look to get back into the state quarterfinals. 

The Panthers have more wins, with losses to just 2B No. 6 Columbia (Burbank) and Kiona-Benton, which didn’t qualify for the state tournament. River View has a potent offense, with quarterback Ajani Fornos being a solid dual-threat and playmaker Miguel Farias leading a strong rushing attack. 

The winner of Saturday’s game in Onalaska will play No. 4 Lind-Ritzville/Sprague on the east side next week, which will be coming off a bye. 

Eric’s prediction: Onalaska

Alec’s prediction: Onalaska

2B: No. 9 Toledo (9-2) at No. 8 Davenport (9-1) —  Noon, Saturday, at Moses Lake High School

The Skinny:

After winning three games in 10 days to qualify for state, the Riverhawks earned the No. 9 seed and will take on a one-loss Gorillas squad on the road on Saturday. 

Toledo has one of the strongest rushing attacks in the region, with four playmakers on offense that could bust a big play at any moment. Led by quarterback Wyatt Nef, Toledo can also beat you with any one of its top tailbacks: Geoffrey Glass, Justin Filla or Zane Ranney. The Riverhawks have losses to just No. 1 Kalama and No. 5 Onalaska this season. 

Toledo has the third-ranked offense in the Southwest Washington 2B Football League, averaging 36.9 points per game while allowing 22.4 points per game to opponents.

The Gorillas have just one loss this season, an early season one-point defeat at the hands of No. 4 Lind-Ritzville/Sprague in Week 2. Despite close calls against Northwest Christian (Colbert), Liberty (Spangle) and Lake Roosevelt, none of which made state, the Gorillas are state-bound and earned hosting privileges after finishing second in their league. 

Like Toledo, Davenport keeps it on the ground and runs a wingback offense behind senior RB Marcus Delafield, junior wingback Brenick Soliday, FB Sam Schneider and QB Evan Gunning. They eat up clock, pass a few times per game and were rarely stopped in league play unless it was a self-inflicted mistake.

The winner of Saturday’s matchup will take on No. 1 Kalama, which is coming off a bye. 

Eric’s prediction: Toledo

Alec’s prediction: Toledo

1B: No. 11 Winlock (8-1) at No. 6 DeSales (7-2) —  1 p.m., Saturday, at DeSales High School

The Skinny:

The Cardinals will be looking for their first state tournament victory since 1977 after making the state playoff for the first time since 2002 with a win over Evergreen Lutheran last week. Winlock’s lone defeat this season was to No. 5 Naselle, but the Cardinals have otherwise proved to be a stout contender this season. 

Nolan Swofford, Neal Patching and company have helped lead an explosive offense and a pretty stout defense for the 8-man game this season as the Cards look to upset DeSales on its turf. 

The Irish have enjoyed similar success on the other side of the Cascades, with losses to just No. 2 Odessa and No. 4 Pomeroy this season. In wins, the Irish average 62.8 points and give up just 14.8, but against better competition, the Irish have struggled. 

The winner of Saturday’s matchup will take on No. 3 Quilcene, which is coming off a bye. 

Eric’s prediction: Winlock

Alec’s prediction: Winlock