I don’t know if I’m surprised or not that such a distinction between Greater Spokane League 4A and 3A football teams seemingly has emerged after two weeks.
A look at the standings shows 4A teams Ferris, Lewis and Clark, Central Valley and Gonzaga Prep atop at 2-0. Mead, another 4A team, is next at 1-1, tied with 3A North Central. Then there’s a 3A logjam at 0-2 between Shadle Park, University and Mt. Spokane.
I’ve seen University and Mt. Spokane. I haven’t watched Shadle yet. It’s difficult for me to guess which 3A team will get things going quicker and earn the 3A top playoff seed. Two teams advance to the playoffs.
I still see U-Hi and Mt. Spokane being the two 3A teams that qualify for the playoffs. But Ferris coach Jim Sharkey says nobody should overlook Shadle.
“I still think Shadle is very dangerous,” Sharkey said. “Shadle is probably the most improved team in the league.”
Sharkey isn’t putting much stock into the early separation between classes.
I haven’t seen anything to change my mind about defending State 4A champ Ferris. And it appeared after the first week that Mead was finally poised to play up to preseason hype. The Panthers have underwhelmed often in recent years.
This much is obvious: One, perhaps two, very good 4A teams will not make the playoffs. LC could be the odd team out in the 2-0 grouping. The Tigers opened with an easy win over Rogers and then rallied to knock off U-Hi last week.
Gonzaga Prep features a quarterback (Zach Bonneau) and running back (Griffin Hare) who are picking up yards in chunks in the Bullpups’ option attack.
Sharkey is pleased with the Saxons’ start.
“We’re doing some things well,” Sharkey said. “We’ve got to develop some depth. We’re playing a lot of kids both ways.”
The Saxons aren’t alone. CV and Mead are playing a number of kids both ways.
“I’ve noticed the last two years across the state that more teams are going back to playing kids both ways,” Sharkey said. “In a perfect world I’d play a few more guys. But for whatever reason we just don’t have quite as much depth. Skyline even played a lot of kids both ways (in the state title game) last year.”
Sharkey expects more competitive games as the season progresses.
“I think the league is eight (teams) deep,” Sharkey said.
• Perhaps the best team in the region is defending Idaho 5A champ Coeur d’Alene (3-0). I’ll get a chance to see the Vikings on Saturday when they play a talented Whitney (Calif.) team, 2-0, at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow at 8.
Billed the Idaho Classic, Lake City and Highland of Pocatello also play California schools. Lake City (2-1) takes on Rio Linda (1-1) at 5.
Whitney features two prized players in quarterback Jake Rodrigues (6-3, 209) and tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (6-5, 236). Rodrigues has given an oral commitment to Oregon and Cope-Fitzpatrick is headed to USC.
Whitney will have to defend a solid quarterback in CdA’s Chad Chalich, who is ahead of last year’s record-setting pace. He’s thrown for 901 yards, completing 63 of 82 passes (.768) and eight touchdowns. He has just one interception. He’s rushed for 203 yards on 37 attempts, scoring five times.
If CdA wins Saturday it will likely go undefeated in the regular season and be heavily favored to capture a second consecutive state title.
Greg Lee can be reached at (509) 927-2180 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.