The weekend’s over, and only two teams remain in each classification with the Gridiron Classic next weekend at the Tacoma Dome. Only three area teams are left playing: Bothell, O’Dea and Skyline.
O’Dea and Skyline will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 3A championship game, and Bothell will play Lewis & Clark of Spokane at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Class 4A championship.
But before we move on to next weekend, these are the aspects of each 3A and 4A game I think I’ll remember most:
Skyline’s dominating defense. For most of the first half Saturday, Erich Armstrong and Franklin Pierce looked capable of the upset. Franklin Pierce led 14-6 at one point and trailed only 20-14 at the half. Then Skyline pushed the Cardinals back 19 yards on their first drive. Skyline scores on the following possession. And then Skyline’s Tyler Washburn strips Armstrong and takes it for a touchdown. 34-14, and the game was over that quickly.
Skyline had three defensive touchdowns on the day, as Sandy wrote today, and O’Dea will definitely have its hands full preparing for the Spartans. But O’Dea RB/DB Johri Fogerson sounded up to the challenge on Friday, when he said he wanted the Spartans.
“They’re on top right now,” Fogerson said. “There’s nothing better than beating the top man.”
Bothell’s escape. This has to be one of the most unbelievable endings I have ever seen in person. The only person who saw that Ferris fumble coming, it seems, was Bothell’s defensive coordinator, Marty Hoyle.
With 3:35 left, Ferris needed to go 77 yards for the tying score. The Saxons got 76. With everybody getting ready for overtime, Ferris fumbled the snap on first-and-goal inside the 1-yard line. Bothell’s Rami Salha jumped on it.
The wind chill was in the low 20s on Saturday — I lost feeling in my fingers in just about 20 minutes outside — and both teams had a little trouble holding onto the ball. Both teams lost two fumbles, but Bothell almost lost another that could have changed the game.
With 5:28 left, Ferris punted from its own 7, and Bothell’s Nate Proulx called for a fair catch at the Ferris 40. But the ball went through Proulx’s hands and for a moment, the ball — possibly the game — squirted on the turf before a pile of guys jumped on it. Bothell’s guy got there first. I didn’t catch who came out with it, but if the Cougars go on to beat Lewis & Clark, someone should really thank that guy.
James Palmer’s revenge. Bellevue ran at O’Dea lineman James Palmer early and often in Friday morning’s semifinal (which seems like weeks ago). And Palmer said the Wolverines probably had the right idea.
“I’m playing next to 300-pounders, 240-pounders,” Palmer said. “I’m 190 soaking wet, you know what I mean? They’re going to come at me every play.”
On the game’s second play, the Wolverines ran at him and Peter Nguyen cruised in for a 23-yard score. Then they kept going at him. But with only 15 seconds left in the first half, Palmer got his revenge.
As I detailed in my game story Saturday, Palmer came up with a fumble recovery as Bellevue tried one last play, and he brought it back 50 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown. Instead of 10-7 Bellevue at the half, it was 14-10 O’Dea.
Edmonds-Woodway’s comeback. I wasn’t there, but I didn’t have to be there to tell you Edmonds-Woodway wouldn’t go down without a fight. Lewis & Clark took a 28-7 lead late in the first half, and then kept that lead even into the fourth. But then the Warriors rallied. First Kyle McCartney hits Antoine Wafer for a 14-yard touchdown 28-14. Then a Wafer interception, leading to a 3-yard Tony Heard TD run. Kick hits the upright, so it’s 28-20. Then a McCartney interception, leading to another Heard TD run with 44 seconds left. But the conversion failed, and the rally ended there.
I hate cliches, but it really was a game of inches this weekend. Think about it: If an Edmonds-Woodway PAT goes one foot the other way, the Warriors could have gone to overtime against Lewis & Clark. And if Ferris had gained only two more feet, the Saxons could have forced overtime against Bothell. It easily could have been Edmonds-Woodway against Ferris next Saturday. But instead, we’ll have Bothell and Lewis & Clark
Semifinal stars *
1. Gino Simone, Skyline. Returned an interception for Skyline’s first score, then scored on a catch-and-run for the Spartans’ second touchdown. There’s a reason he was the KingCo 3A offensive player of the year as a junior.
2. Alex Shaw, Lewis & Clark. I don’t quite understand him reportedly saying “Ferris who?” Saturday night — Ferris did, after all, beat L&C this season — but he’s been the star of these playoffs so far. In the past two games, he’s rushed for 420 yards.
3. Donny Lisowski, O’Dea. Left the game in the fourth with a leg injury, but before that, he scored on touchdown runs of 53 and 5 yards in O’Dea’s 27-17 victory. A lot of defensive attention goes to Fogerson, but Lisowski definitely has a pair of wheels on him.
4. Antoinne Wafer, Edmonds-Woodway. Gutsy performance from who I’ve heard might perhaps the area’s gutsiest player. Had 86 yards receiving, two touchdowns and two interceptions. One of the guys I’ll regret I never got to see.
5. Jake Heaps, Skyline. Took him a little bit to settle down — he’s a sophomore, so it’s hard to blame him — but he came back with two passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns in the Spartans’ 48-14 win.
*Only from games featuring area teams.