Remember last week, when I wrote this?
High-school sports is the one of the few places that hasn’t been touched by our bracketology-obsessed world. These days, everything must be ranked.
Well, just because I don’t think we should be ranking teams for playoff seeding doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun getting ready for this weekend’s quarterfinals. And that’s all this is: fun. So don’t take this personally. It’s one man’s attempt to break down each team’s chances of winning. So I have ranked both Class 4A and 3A, from the team with the best chance of winning to the team with the toughest road ahead of them.
1. Edmonds-Woodway. So technically, they won’t play a home game during the entire state playoffs because it’s playing at Seattle Memorial Stadium. But unlike the area’s two other unranked teams, the Warriors, under no circumstances, will have to go east of the Cascades. So that, and last week’s convincing win against Snohomish, puts them in the top spot. And don’t worry about RB extraordinaire Tony Heard, who tweaked an ankle last week. He’s playing, and if I had to pick one team right now, Edmonds-Woodway would be it.
But I’d be nervous about it, mostly because of the next four teams:
2. Bothell. We’ll see how QB Johnny Hekker is. I say he plays, so the Cougars get the nod over Oak Harbor in the rematch of last year’s championship game. No one’s put more than 17 points on that defense all year, and I’m not sure another team has been more tested this season.
3. Ferris. You see it all the time in sports. A team rallies to a miracle finish in the first round and then goes on to win it all. Ferris has already completed the first part, coming back against Moses Lake in the first round. It needed to convert a third-and-30 and a fourth-and-12 just to score on the last drive! And if they can stop Graham-Kapowsin’s running game this weekend, they get either Bothell or Oak Harbor at home. That’s not too shabby.
4. Oak Harbor. What a great job this season by coach Dave Ward. The defending 4A champs came back undefeated. But now they have to go to Pop Keeney, and that’s why they’re fourth among undefeated teams. It’s a tough place to play against the state’s top-ranked team.
5. Eastlake. If they pull one out Saturday, watch out. This is a dangerous team. At Skyline last Saturday, I ran into coach Gene Dales, who said the Wolves’ 48-14 win against Cascade was their best win to date. The Wolves will be up to the challenge of playing Edmonds-Woodway on Saturday. With only a loss to Bothell in KingCo 4A, which has clearly proved to be the state’s top conference this postseason, the Wolves are no pushovers.
6. Lewis & Clark. It’s never fun to travel several hours for a game like Lewis & Clark will this weekend for Saturday’s game at Inglemoor. But take a look at its schedule this year, and you’ll see Inglemoor will have its hands full, even on the road. Lewis & Clark beat two playoff teams, Central Valley and Mead, and then has advanced this far after a win at Woodinville (which beat Inglemoor 31-6 this year). That’s battle-tested.
7. Inglemoor. I get the sense that the Vikings are getting a thrill out of this underdog role, so perhaps they won’t mind this spot. I think I’m like many who are surprised to see Inglemoor still going. And if you were at the aforementioned Woodinville game, you’d be too. But Frank Naish has this team believing. Now they get a home game. I do think they’ll have to score more than the 20 points they’ve combined for in the past two weeks to advance this weekend.
8. Graham-Kapowsin. This has been a feast or famine team all season. But, oh, what feasts they are. They will need a Thanksgiving dinner kind of day Saturday at Ferris to keep on going. But with the way G-K can run and control the clock, who knows?
1. Skyline. The road to the 3A championship goes through Sparta. After Saturday’s 39-20 win against Lakes — I mean, read that score one more time — the Spartans have established themselves as the top team in 3A, and I’d say even in the entire state. And I’m not sure I’ll ever pick against Steve Gervais again, seeing how my Lakes pick last weekend got so thoroughly schooled. But if there’s a team that can challenge them the most, I’d say it’s…
2. O’Dea. Frankly, you can only put one knock on O’Dea: its schedule. Skyline’s gone through Bellevue and Lakes. Bellevue was a touchdown away from beating Skyline, and it went through a tough KingCo 4A. O’Dea had few battles, aside from its 28-14 victory against Eastside Catholic on the way here. But oh, how impressive they’ve looked nevertheless. Someone’s going to have to stop the Irish running game to win the title.
3. Bellevue. Speaking of unstoppable running games, the Wolverines just keep on churning out the victories. They have to go on the road to Kennewick to play Southridge, but how do you pick against a team that has won 24 of its past 25 games? I won’t. At least not this week. And remember: Bellevue has its starting backfield back after Ladell Carroll and Eric Nelson missed most of the season.
4. Franklin Pierce. It won’t be an easy game against Ferndale — that’s a long road trip — but I like how the Cardinals have been playing so far this postseason. Erich Armstrong might remind the Ferndale faithful a little bit — just a little bit — of Jake Locker, with how well he runs and passes.
5. Ferndale. I look at Ferndale’s schedule and really question whether the Golden Eagles have seen a team like Franklin Pierce. Of all the 3A games this weekend, this is my favorite because both teams are undefeated and have been right next to each other in the rankings all season.
6. Southridge. Why put Southridge ahead of the other two teams? Four reasons: 1) They beat the state’s third-ranked team, Kamiakin. 2) They play at home. 3) They don’t play Skyline. 4) They don’t play O’Dea.
7. Meadowdale. Last week’s victory against Evergreen is the kind of game the Meadowdale seniors will be talking about for decades. But O’Dea has simply shown so few signs of slipping up this season, a victory against the Irish would be a game those Meadowdale seniors would never forget.
8. Kennewick. Good team. Good season. Horrible quarterfinal matchup. The Sammamish Plateau is the last place any team wants to be this weekend, but Kennewick must go there to play Skyline. That hasn’t gone well for anyone this season.
And remember what else I said last week:
I’ll let you in on a secret: the rankers aren’t all-knowing.