So I’m on my way to Portland — well still in Seattle technically, but on a train, and while I’m sure my travel plans are thrilling, I’ll move on — to see Bellevue and Skyline tonight, and I’m starting to think about this week’s games with this perspective: what makes a playoff team?
Because that’s what I’m looking for when I watch games this early in the season. Who’s ready? You can tell, watching a team, how they size up for the long run, how well-prepared they are and the way they play up front. (Just like every other level of football, the guys up front usually dictate the game.)
And in that respect, Issaquah looked playoff-ready on Thursday night. Bothell hadn’t been handled like that in the trenches in a long time, and the Eagles reacted so quickly to everything the Cougars could come up with. And even though beating Bothell in a nonleague game means nothing come November, it’s hard right now to imagine a November without them.
For three quarters, Redmond looked the part Friday night. QB David Gilbertson really impressed, sophomore RB Michael Conforto and senior WR/DB John Martino swooped through the Prosser D, and for three quarters, Redmond held that Prosser offense in check, or at least for the most part. QB Jordan Durbin threw for 60 touchdowns — 60! — last season, and through those three quarters, he had thrown only two (both to Kirby Moore).
But playoff teams make plays on special teams, and that separated the two last night. Redmond was 1 yard from running a lot of time off the clock leading 29-20, but instead, on fourth-and-1 in its own territory, it tried to punt. And a bad snap set up Prosser’s first score. And then after a false start set Redmond back, it went to punt again, and a Prosser player snuck through and blocked his second kick of the night. And then Prosser scored again, and you realized that this is how playoff teams (Prosser’s about as good as they get in 2A) win games.
Meadowdale sure sounds like a team ready for the playoffs this season after its win against Edmonds-Woodway last night. The emphasis today is on the field goal the Warriors didn’t kick, but how about that early lead the Mavericks took? Even if E-W gets that last play in and wins, we learned a lot about where Meadowdale stands this season by the way they played with the Warriors (who were in about every preseason top five I could find).
Edmonds-Woodway wasn’t the only team from our top-10 to get beat, as the annual week one tradition of blowing up the rankings continues. Oak Harbor dropped a 15-10 game to Cascade, and Evergreen of Vancouver got shut out against South Medford of Oregon. In 3A, Olympic, East Valley and Hanford all dropped their openers. And Bellevue, Kennedy and Skyline each face challenging opening games today.
So don’t be surprised to see the Spokane schools in next week’s rankings, with Lewis and Clark, Ferris and Gonzaga Prep each impressing this week. But we’ll learn much more about them next week, when Lewis and Clark plays Mead and Ferris faces Gonzaga Prep.
That’s all for now, but check in often tonight for updates on Bellevue and Skyline from PGE Park in Portland. I’ll be live-blogging (much like I did last postseason) with as many updates as I can get in.
1. Michael Schwartz, Lakeside, football. Ran for 299 yards on 30 carries, with three touchdowns in a 42-32 win against Lakewood.
2. Taylor Cox, Jackson, football. Had 17 carries for 204 yards, with home-run touchdowns of 42 and 68 yards.
3. Chandler Gayton ,O’Dea, football. His 71-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter allowed O’Dea to escape a first-week disappointment.
4. Tony Heard, Edmonds-Woodway, football. He ended up just a few yards away from a win, but don’t blame him: he had 28 carries for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
5. David Gilbertson, Redmond, football. His 313-yard, three touchdown performance against the Class 2A championship should not be ignored. With the way Issaquah played Thursday and his Mustangs did Friday — not to mention Eastlake’s 24-12 win against Mount Si — Skyline has a challenging road ahead of itself to get to the KingCo championship game.
Today’s top games
1. Kennedy vs. Kentwood, football, 5:30 p.m. at Qwest Field. Watch for QB/DB/KR Nolan Washington if you go. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s hard to track down.
2. Skyline vs. Sheldon (Ore.), football, 8 p.m. at PGE Park in Portland. Skyline’s offense will be fine. Has the defense reloaded for this season? We’ll see.
3. Bellevue vs. Central Catholic (Ore.), football, 6 p.m. at PGE Park in Portland. Wolverines might have set up the state’s toughest nonleague schedule (though Bothell — Issaquah, Bellevue, Redmond — can make a great case, too).