First round, Washington
4A: Union Titans (7-3)
at Gonzaga Prep Bullpups (9-1)
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
How they got here: Union defeated Graham-Kapowsin 39-22 and G-Prep defeated Chiawana 55-28 last week.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Bothell/Bellarmine Prep winner.
At a glance: The Bullpups are picking up yards in chunks. They’ve rushed for 4,267 yards, averaging 426 per game. The Titans finished third in the Greater St. Helens League, which historically has been a weak league. The Titans see themselves as underdogs and are hopeful they can be the surprise team in the state field. To do that, they must find a way to slow down the Bullpups.
4A: Newport Knights (7-3)
vs. Mead Panthers (9-1)
When: Saturday, 1, Joe Albi Stadium
How they got here: Newport defeated Skyview 56-35, Mead shut out Richland 17-0.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Auburn/Eastmont winner.
At a glance: The Knights of Bellevue, using the wishbone, rushed for 566 yards in their win over Skyview. They’re not to be mistaken for the 3A powerhouse Bellevue Wolverines, though. The Panthers will have to be disciplined on defense, making good reads against the option offense. Mead made strides in the penalty and turnover areas last week but continues to need improvement if it wants to make a deep playoff run.
3A: O’Dea Irish (8-2)
at University Titans (6-4)
When: Saturday, 3
How they got here: O’Dea defeated Lakes 28-25 and University defeated Kamiakin 27-22.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Kennewick/North Thurston winner.
At a glance: U-Hi coach Rob Bartlett got a chance to see O’Dea in person last Saturday and he came away impressed. “They’re very big, athletic and physical,” Bartlett said. The Titans may have to play their best defensive game of the season. The Irish are an option team. The Titans hung tough with the lone option team they played, falling 14-10 to G-Prep.
2A: Cheney Blackhawks (6-4)
at Othello Huskies (10-0)
When: Saturday, 1
How they got here: Cheney earned the second of two GNL seeds by virtue of tiebreaking formula with three other teams and Othello finished first in the Central Washington Athletic Conference.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Prosser/Pullman winner.
At a glance: Cheney is playing its best after a 1-3 start. The Blackhawks have won five of their last six including wins over East Valley and West Valley. It may not be enough against the state’s top-ranked 2A team.
2A: Prosser Mustangs (9-1)
at Pullman Greyhounds (6-3)
When: Friday, 7
How they got here: Pullman earned top GNL seed by virtue of tiebreaking with three other teams and Prosser finished second in the CWAC.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Othello/Cheney winner.
At a glance: Pullman was undoubtedly the surprise team of the Great Northern League, being picked to finish seventh in the seven-team league. But the Greyhounds stubbed their toe last week in a road loss at previously winless Colville. The loss cost the Greyhounds the outright league title. They face the difficult task of playing perennial playoff qualifier Prosser. Perhaps the Greyhounds will continue surprising everybody but themselves.
1A: River View Panthers (9-1) at Chewelah Cougars (9-1)
When: Saturday, 1
How they got here: River View defeated Naches Valley 68-20 and Chewelah defeated Okanogan 26-20.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Quincy/Zillah winner.
At a glance: The Cougars are the last Northeast League team standing after the league suffered some difficult defeats to Caribou Trail League teams last week. Now they take on a team from another perennially tough league. Chewelah must play solid defense or it could be a brief postseason.
2B: Reardan Indians (7-2) at Kittitas Coyotes (6-2)
When: Friday, 6
How they got here: Reardan defeated Tri-Cities Prep 28-0 and Kittitas won the Central Washington League title.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal matchup against the Oroville/Waitsburg- Prescott winner.
At a glance: This is a rematch of an earlier game that saw the Indians rally from a 24-14 deficit to win 28-24. The second matchup should be just as competitive.
2B: Tekoa-Oakesdale/ Rosalia Nighthawks (8-1) at Lind-Ritzville/ Sprague Broncos (9-0)
When: Friday, 7
How they got here: The Broncos defeated Asotin 40-7 and the Nighthawks defeated Colfax 36-14 last week.
What’s at stake: A quarterfinal date against the White Swan/DeSales winner.
At a glance: The Broncos believe this is their year to make a run in the playoffs. The body of work so far backs that up. The teams share three common opponents. The Broncos defeated Asotin 40-7, Colfax 33-14 and Reardan 34-0. The Nighthawks defeated Colfax 36-14, Asotin 22-6 and Reardan 22-0.
5A: Coeur d’Alene Vikings (8-2) vs. Highland Rams (8-2)
When: Friday, Pocatello, 4:30
How they got here: Coeur d’Alene shut out Rocky Mountain 45-0 and Highland defeated Borah 41-34.
What’s at stake: A championship date against the Lake City/Madison winner.
At a glance: Highland and Coeur d’Alene met Sept. 21 at CdA with the Rams winning 45-26. CdA coach Shawn Amos deplored the effort and execution of the Vikings in the game – from the coaches to the players. He expects a much, much more inspired effort Friday as the two-time defending state champs are in the semifinals for a fourth straight year.
5A; Lake City Timberwolves (6-3-1) vs. Madison Bobcats (10-0)
When: Friday, Pocatello, 7:15
How they got here: Lake City defeated Eagle 24-10 and Madison defeated Capital 28-14.
What’s at stake: A championship date against the Coeur d’Alene/Highland winner.
At a glance: From the start to now, the Timberwolves have been a work in progress. And since mid-September, coach Van Troxel has been impressed with the progress. LC played its most complete game to date last week and it will take a similar effort against the top-ranked Bobcats.
3A: Fruitland Grizzlies (10-0) at Timberlake Tigers (6-4)
When: Saturday, noon
How they got here: Timberlake defeated Weiser 15-13 and Fruitland defeated Payette 35-18.
What’s at stake: A championship date against the Gooding/Shelley winner.
At a glance: The Tigers have their hands full – to say the least. Defending state champ Fruitland has punished opponents. The Grizzlies scored more than 58 points four times and more than 60 three times. It will take Timberlake’s best defensive effort to have a chance. And it will take nothing less on offense.