Previewing the State Football Quarterfinals

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After a flurry of strong performances in the first week of the state playoffs last week, just one team from The Chronicle’s coverage area was eliminated — W.F. West in a near comeback victory against Prosser. 

Six teams are still alive, so read up on the matchups in the state quarterfinals below, with predictions, game times, storylines, and more from Sports Editor Eric Trent and reporter Alec Dietz. 

1B: No. 11 Winlock (9-1) vs. No. 3 Quilcene (8-1) — 3 p.m., Saturday, Sammamish High School

It’s been a revival year for the Winlock Cardinals football team. Playing in their first state tournament since 2002, the 11th-seeded Cardinals are coming off their first state playoff victory since 1999 after outdueling No. 6 DeSales, 64-60, on Saturday.

Now, Winlock will look to continue its impressive run when it faces No. 3 Quilcene in the state quarterfinals this Saturday.

The Rangers have lost just one game this year, a 28-22 loss to Lummi, but came back to beat Lummi in the district playoffs and also have a win over a Class 1A opponent in Bellevue Christian.

The Rangers are led by big, bruising running back Bishop Budnek, the reigning SeaTac League MVP who broke his wrist during the spring season earlier this year. He returned last month and has already piled up 739 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.

“He’s one of the bigger backs we’ve faced and likes to play between the tackles,” Winlock coach Ernie Samples said. “They like to play downhill. It’s a lot like playing ourselves. We just wanna slow them down.”

Luckily, the Cardinals have a big back of their own in senior Nolan Swofford, who was recently named the Pac-5 Conference’s Offensive MVP. Swofford has racked up an absurd 1,827 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns on 178 carries.

He’s not Winlock’s only threat. Quarterback Neal Patching 1,242 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns himself, including 819 passing yards and another 11 scores through the air. He threw for five touchdowns and nearly 400 yards against DeSales last week.

Winlock hopes it can cause fits for Quilcene’s offense and take advantage of the Rangers’ defense with a potent rushing and passing attack.

The two squads kickoff at 3 p.m., Saturday, at Sammamish High School. The winner advances to the semifinals to face the winner of No. 2 Odessa and No. 7 Liberty Bell.

Eric’s prediction: Winlock

Alec’s prediction: Quilcene

2B: No. 2 Napavine (10-0) vs. No. 10 Forks (8-1) — 1 p.m., Saturday, Centralia Tiger Stadium

Before No. 2 Napavine opens its state run against No. 10 Forks at home this weekend, Tigers coach Josh Fay made it very clear how he felt about their off-week bye. 

“I don’t like byes,” he said. “I’d much rather play, I hate missing that opportunity.”

Though the Tigers earned a high seeding, due to the now 12-team playoff in the Class 2B playoff imposed by the WIAA, they had last week off to rest up and bide their time before taking the field again. 

And now they’ll play a team they beat 60-0 four weeks ago. 

“It’s hard to beat a team the way we beat them,” Fay said. “That doesn’t happen twice in a season. Our kids are expecting to have their work cut out for them.”

While Forks got to get in a rhythm and build some momentum heading into a Central 2B League rematch in the state quarterfinals, Napavine took Saturday off. Fay knows that can be both an advantage, and a disadvantage with the Spartans getting live reps and game experience. 

“That’s always the thing that creeps into your mind,” he said. “Forks is coming off a good ball game with Goldendale, now they can see what they need to improve upon.”

But the Tigers will be ready. Fay didn’t change the weekly schedule if at all, and says that his team is in the right routine to compete even with the week off. 

Napavine has rolled this season, with just one game against Class 1A No. 10 Montesano being a game come the fourth quarter. The only 2B team to hang with the Tigers at all may have been No. 5 Onalaska, which the Tigers beat by two touchdowns in Week 2. 

Ashton Demarest has led the way as the signal caller, throwing for 1661 yards and 24 touchdowns with just four interceptions. The sophomore also has nearly 500 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground. 

Tailback Gavin Parker has been a workhorse on the ground, rushing for 1,202 yards on 90 carries with 17 touchdowns, thanks in part to C2BL North Offensive MVP Keith Olson paving the way up front. 

Also leading the way for the Tigers offense were outside playmakers Lucas Dahl and Peyton League, who have 736 and 450 yards receiving on the season, respectively. 

Despite the strong regular season, and an already dominant win over the Spartans not even a month ago, the Tigers are not overlooking a team they are very familiar with. Come Saturday, Fay’s squad will be ready to play and hope to advance to the state semifinals yet again next week.

Eric’s prediction: Napavine

Alec’s prediction: Napavine

2B: No. 5 Onalaska (6-5) vs. No. 4 Lind-Ritzville/Sprague/Washtucna (9-0) — 1 p.m., Saturday, Gonzaga Prep High School

After hammering No. 12 River View, 62-8, in its state opener Saturday. No. 5 Onalaska hopes to continue its success against Eastern Washington teams this Saturday when the Loggers take on No. 4 Lind-Ritzville/Sprague/Washtucna in the state quarterfinals.

The Broncos use primarily a spread offense but will also run right at opponents when they need to. They’re led by quarterback Chase Galbreath and running back duo Brock Kinch and Brody Boness. They also get back key wideout Hunter Dinkins.

“(Broncos coach) Greg Whitmore has done a heck of a job with them,” Onalaska coach Mazen Saade said. “They’re big, they’re fast and they’re well-coached. They have really good linemen.”

Whitmore last led the Broncos to state title wins in 2012 and 2013, both over Morton-White Pass. They’ve also brought back Mike Lynch as an assistant, who played football for Washington State University.

“They have a real veteran staff and they’re good,” Saade said. “There’s a reason they’re undefeated. It’s not easy going undefeated.”

The Loggers will look to counter the Broncos with a punishing run game, led by workhorse and first-team, all-league selection Marshall Haight, who’s racked up 1,513 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns on 188 carries.

Onalaska also gets ample production from seniors Gunnar Talley (41 carries, 430 yards, 11 TDs) and Kolby Mozingo (41 carries, 545 yards, 13 TDs).

Defensively, the Loggers hope to use their physicality to punish opposing ball carriers and control the line of scrimmage. Mozingo was recently named the SWW 2B South Division’s Defensive MVP. DB Juan Ibarra has also been breaking out recently, notching two interceptions the last three games and adding four TDs the past three games.

Onalaska and Lind-Ritzville face off at 1 p.m., Saturday, at Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane. The winner advances to the semifinals to face the winner of Toledo and Kalama.

Eric’s prediction: Onalaska

Alec’s prediction: Onalaska

2B: No. 9 Toledo (10-2) vs. No. 1 Kalama (9-0) — 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Kalama High School

The bruised and battered Riverhawks, who have gritted their way through three do-or-die games in a two week span, will have their work cut out for them this week. 

Not even a month ago, No. 9 Toledo lost to the No. 1 Chinooks, 36-7, in Kalama. This Saturday, the Riverhawks will be headed there again hoping to spring an upset and make it to the state semis. 

“It’s a daunting task, for sure,” Toledo coach Mike Christensen said. “We can’t start slow and we can’t turn it over like we did Saturday.” 

The Riverhawks struggled through the first half of their opening game against No. 8 Davenport in Moses Lake, but eventually pulled away in a 44-35 win. Their reward for winning their 10th game this season is a date with a Chinooks squad they’ve already played this season that won their league. 

That first game’s score was deceiving, in a way. Toledo went 0 for 4 in the red zone against the Chinooks, with a couple of turnovers and costly mistakes keeping them from making it a game. 

Kalama, meanwhile, has looked close to unbeatable in recent weeks, led by Central 2B Offensive MVP and first-team defensive back Jackson Esary. The Chinooks offense will go as far as the gunslinger takes them, but he also has a host of weapons like first-team receivers Jack Doerty and Max Cox.  

Eric’s prediction: Kalama

Alec: prediction: Kalama

1A: No. 6 Tenino (10-1) vs. No. 3 Lynden Christian (6-2) — Noon, Saturday, Civic Stadium in Bellingham

Following a historic, 80-55 win over No. 11 Freeman in the opening round of the state playoffs last Friday, the Tenino Beavers will be hoping to find their stride defensively against another explosive offense this weekend. 

Their opponent, No. 3 Lynden Christian, is coming off a 50-0 smacking of No. 14 Granite Falls last week, moving the ball at will and stymying the Tigers in a dominant display. The score was 48-0 at the half.  

“They’re probably more explosive than Freeman is,” Beavers coach Cary Nagel said. “It’s going to be a very tough opponent, we’re going to have a quick turnaround. The boys are going to have to be dialed and locked in.”

But if Tenino’s offense operates anything like it did last Friday, it should make for a good game come Saturday. 

A 406 yard, five touchdown performance improved Takari Hickle’s season statline to an absurd 1,819 yards and 23 touchdowns on the season. The game also improved the Beavers total rushing yards per game to an outstanding 466, which ranks nationally as the of the country’s best. 

But that offense, while prolific, will now go up against one of the most physically-imposing teams in Class 1A football. 

“We know they’re coming to play,” Beavers tailback Gavin Watson said. “They know what they’re doing, we need to study up on them and see what we can do.”

The Lyncs are led by quarterback Will Colwell, who manages a balanced offensive attack that features a strong passing game with numerous weapons on the outside and a thundering rushing attack led by Kade Eldridge. 

The Beavers and Lyncs share one common opponent this season: Class 2B No. 5 Onalaska, which both schools beat. Lynden Christian beat the Loggers 38-20 at home, while the Beavers squeaked out a win on the black turf, 20-14, earlier in the season. 

Eric’s prediction: Tenino

Alec’s prediction: Lynden Christian

2A: No. 1 Tumwater (8-2) vs. No. 9 Enumclaw (9-2) — 7 p.m., Friday, Tumwater District Stadium

Top-ranked and top-seeded Tumwater is sitting right where everyone thought it would be at this point of the season: in the state quarterfinals.

The Thunderbirds ripped their way to the 2A Evergreen Conference title, with their only regular-season blemishes coming in losses to Oregon’s Class 6A Central Catholic and Washington’s defending 4A state champion Camas.

Now, after shellacking No. 16 East Valley (Spokane) 56-7 in their state opener on Nov. 12, the T-Birds (8-2) now get a rematch with No. 9 Enumclaw (9-2) in the quarterfinals.

Tumwater has already beaten Enumclaw once this season, a 56-6 thumping in the season opener. But T-Birds coach Bill Beattie said his squad will be facing a much different Hornets team than they did in Week 1.

“It’s gonna be a great matchup and they’ve improved,” Beattie said. “It’ll be a fun one to play.”

The Hornets are in their first trip to state since 1995 and won their first state game since 1985 last week with a 38-28 win over Hockinson.

The Hornets are led by quarterback Malcom Harper, running backs Emmit Otero and Dawson Harding and receivers Clive Pond and Dylan Watterson.

“They’re physical and like to run the football,” Beattie said. “Their quarterback is having a good year and has a triangle of guys he can get the ball to. It will make a good battle for us.”

Tumwater will counter with a vicious run game that it used to to average 46.7 points per game. Running back Payton Hoyt has racked up 972 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 103 carries. Carlos Matheney is the bruiser, adding 826 yards and 13 scores on 106 carries.

“Our running game has to do a good job using angles and pushing upfield,” Beattie said. “It’s going to come down to our offensive line. They’ve done an incredible job upfront.”

Tumwater and Enumclaw will square off at 7 p.m., Friday, at Tumwater District Stadium. The winner advances to the state semifinals against the winner of No. 4 Squalicum and No. 5 Ridgefield.

Eric’s prediction: Tumwater

Alec’s prediction: Tumwater