The 4A and 2A State semifinal football games scheduled for Albi Stadium on Saturday have been postponed and will be played Monday at the Tacoma Dome, the WIAA announced late Friday afternoon.
Greater Spokane League secretary Randy Ryan said efforts to remove snow Friday from the Albi turf became futile as the temperature rose. And with more snow forecasted through the evening and Saturday, Ryan said it became apparent the field could not be made playable.
The 3A game between East Valley (7-5) and Tumwater (10-1) will be played Monday at 2 p.m., followed at 5 by the 4A game between Ferris (12-0) and Bellarmine Prep (11-1).
It means a turnaround for Bellarmine Prep and Tumwater. Both teams traveled to Spokane on Friday in preparation for the anticipated games at Albi Stadium.
The 2B semifinal featuring Colfax (11-0) and Waitsburg-Prescott (12-0), scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Martin Stadium in Pullman, and the 1B matchup between Almira-Coulee/Hartline (11-0) and Cusick (11-1), at Roos Field in Cheney at 3, will be played as scheduled.
When Ferris coach Jim Sharkey was contacted about 5:30 p.m. on Friday about the postponement, he thought the caller was joking.
“I’m shell-shocked,” Sharkey said. “I don’t know how they can do this but they are. It’s out of our control.”
Sharkey met with his assistant coaches in the evening to plan on how and when Ferris would travel to Tacoma.
“It’s just crazy right now with the phone calls that are coming in and everything else,” Sharkey said. “We’re going to meet and figure out what we’re going to do. We’ve got to figure out the best way to handle it and go.”
Sharkey wondered that if the Saxons win if the WIAA would reschedule the championship game, which is scheduled for Dec. 4 at the Tacoma Dome.
Ryan said that city workers had no difficulty removing snow on Wednesday. But as the temperature rose on Friday, equipment bogged down as the snow compacted and became icy.
The Spokane School District brought in four-wheel-drive tractors. The blade had to be held an inch above the turf, Ryan said, to keep from damaging the surface. The tractors also couldn’t clear the surface, Ryan said.
“We made a decision at about 4:30 that the field was unplayable,” Ryan said.
A secondary issue was pipes in stadium restrooms and a pipe in one of the locker rooms burst, Ryan said.
“The city workers did everything they could,” Ryan said. “They were able to remove the snow Wednesday because it was dry. It became compact and icy (Friday) because of the wet nature of the snow.”
Attempts were made to reach EV coach Adam Fisher, but he, too, was scrambling to contact players and plan the trip to Tacoma.
Here’s a look at each game:
Ferris vs. Bellarmine Prep: The No. 3-ranked Saxons have made playing in the semifinals a habit lately. This is the fourth straight year and fifth time overall. They’re hoping to return to the title game for a second consecutive season.
To do that, Ferris will have to get past a team that showed fortitude when it trailed fifth-ranked Bothell 21-0. The Lions of Tacoma rallied, winning 28-21 with the winning score coming with 20.6 seconds remaining.
“What we really have to guard against is the big play,” Ferris coach Sharkey said. “That’s what they’ve been doing in the playoffs. They’re definitely a big-play team.”
Bellarmine Prep, the Narrows League champion, is in the semifinals for the first time since 1982.
East Valley vs. Tumwater: The Knights face a program familiar with the playoffs, particularly the semifinals.
Tumwater is in the semifinals for the first time since 2006, but the 10th time under Hall-of-Fame coach Sid Otton.
Defense has carried the Thunderbirds this season. But what concerns Fisher is Tumwater’s offensive style – the Wing T.
“We don’t face that over here,” Fisher said. “It’s a lot of misdirection, linemen pulling, running backs going different ways. We’ll have to focus on reading our keys and tackling well.”
It’s the second time EV has been to the semifinals. The previous time was in 1981 when the Knights won a state title.
Colfax vs. Waitsburg-Prescott: This is a rematch of last year’s first round playoff opener, won by the Bulldogs 39-0.
Colfax, which has been ranked No. 1 all year, is seeking to return to the state final for a second straight year.
Defense has been a strength for both teams.
“Defense has always carried us,” Colfax coach Mike Morgan said. “It’s what Colfax is noted for.”
ACH vs. Cusick: The teams met in a crossover playoff-seeding game that the Warriors won convincingly, 54-6.
It’s the fourth time for both in the semifinals.
Cusick will have to find a way to contain ACH’s high-octane offense powered by Derek Isaak and Colin Deyarmin.