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Receiver Jason Bates gives Ferris early lead, but Saxons couldn’t keep up with talented Skyline in 4A title game.Special to (Patrick Hagerty Special to)

Second OK, too

Area coaches praise first-rate experience

The Spokane area’s three state football finalists had to take solace drinking in the Tacoma Dome experience. Ferris in Class 4A, West Valley in 2A and Colfax in 2B were forced to accept second places Saturday in Gridiron Classic.

The pill may have been bitter, but it didn’t diminish a season of accomplishment, coaches of all three schools said.

Saxons coach Jim Sharkey isn’t one for comparisons, but he said that Skyline, victors over Ferris 45-21, and semifinalist Bothell were two of the best teams he’s seen in state for a while.

“Skyline was a complete team,” he said. “They were so good in their lines, and their team speed on defense was the best we’ve faced in four years.”

Ferris couldn’t run the ball and was forced to do things offensively it didn’t want to, yet Sharkey still felt Connor Halliday passed well and until a turnover with eight minutes remaining the Saxons were still in it.

“Skyline was a better team and I can live with that,” he said of the Saxons’ runner-up status. “The entire experience was incredible. The atmosphere was like a bowl game. It was a lot of fun for everybody. We got a taste of it and want to get back.”

2A: Two dive plays that went nowhere helped undo West Valley in its 16-6 loss to Lynden. One resulted in a safety, the other blunted a drive not long afterward. But for a team that hadn’t been to the state playoffs in 22 years, coach Craig Whitney was not dissatisfied.

“We left the defense on the field way too much in the second half and offensively didn’t sustain our drives like we wanted to,” he said. “But we were one of the few undefeated teams coming in and finished 13-1 overall, which is something to be proud of.

“What an awesome place to play football. I’m glad the kids all fought hard this year and got to this point.”

2B: Alex Teade was knocked down and out on the Tacoma Dome turf, KO’d while making a defensive hit. With it, Colfax’s title hopes took a 10-count when he couldn’t quarterback the final three minutes of the 34-26 loss to Adna.

“He’s doing well,” said coach Mike Morgan on Monday. “I guess it was a minor concussion. He’s fuzzy about the game and still has a headache. Had we not lost Alex, I thought we had a good shot.”

Morgan said you never fully recover from the disappointment, but you don’t always get what you want in life.

“I’m proud of the 12-1 finish,” Morgan said. “The seniors lost only two games the last two years, in the semis and finals. We’ll take that.”

Record performers

Skyline’s Jake Heaps tied a Gridiron Classic 4A record with four touchdown passes, but more important is his legacy as a winner. “He’s 40-2 as a starter with three state championships,” coach Mat Taylor told the Tacoma News-Tribune. “That’s enough said right there.” … Saxons QB Connor Halliday set records for most completions (26), attempts (44) and tied for interceptions (3). … Prolific Tri-Cities Prep QB Will Hoppes set 1B (8-man) record for completions (27), yards (552) and touchdowns (10). His state records include career passing yards (10, 537), completions (593), total yards (13,238) and passing touchdowns (142). Jaguars receiver Troy Redmann had a record six touchdown receptions and 239 yards and tied for catches with nine. They beat Lummi 80-40, setting a record for most winning points.

Second by six points

Ferris finished second at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, just missing another title for a Spokane cross country club.

“Six points, six points,” said Saxons high school coach Mike Hadway. “On the drive home the number six kept going through my head. It was the closest race in meet history. We thought we had it won.”

Second in regionals to North Central, the Ferris crew grouped together in the fog and 38-degree temperatures in Portland, and even though not hitting totally on all cylinders, according to Hadway, barely lost to Boerne XC Club from Texas.

“Honestly, they ran awesome,” said Hadway of Ferris. “All seven of the guys put it on the line.”

Defending national champion NC wound up seventh, 38 points behind Ferris’ 201 team score. Six locals placed among the top 80, with NC’s Ben Johnston eighth, Ferris’ Adam Thorne 10th and NC’s Casey Adams 34th to lead the way.

“Second in the nation is kind of bittersweet, it was so close,” said Hadway. “Still it’s cool.”

Gutsy Gomez

Coeur d’Alene state girls champion Kinzey Gomez was knocked down, but not out, rallying to miss by one spot a trip to the Foot Locker Nationals cross country meet.

Runners Soul proprietor Curt Kinghorn, who coordinated her trip, said Gomez went down 150 to 200 meters into the West Regional race in California, got up and raced from near the end of the pack to 11th in the seeded race, just ahead of Mead’s Baylee Mires. The top 10 qualify for nationals.

Afterward, he said, “they bandaged her knees, there was a spot on her hip and the skin was peeled back from the palm of her hand to her wrist.”

Later it was discovered that Gomez had fractured her wrist, Kinghorn said, and possibly dislocated her elbow. “She’s a tough, tough little girl.”

Lake City’s C. J. Helbling finished third in the seeded race to qualify for his second straight nationals and topped three-time Idaho State 5A champion Eric Fitzpatrick at Foot Locker for the second time as well.

Area runners did well in general and Shadle Park’s Kendra Weitz and Mt. Spokane’s Hunter Johnson won the Freshman-Sophomore All West races.

Win streak over

Four-time State 2B basketball champion Northwest Christian boys’ win streak was ended by Chewelah at 57 games, 37-36, in their season opener.