A look at four of the top games this weekend:
Federal Way at Skyline, 7 p.m. Friday.
Federal Way wins if…The Eagles can get Andre Barrington going against what might be the top defense in the state. That won’t happen unless Federal Way gets a push against the Spartans (mark down Bothell as the only team to do that with any consistency this season). On defense, the Eagles need to find a way to make Jake Heaps uncomfortable to give their secondary a shot at defending Skyline’s spread offense.
Skyline wins if…its offense has time. Give Heaps, along with receivers Gino Simone and Kasen Williams, time and Skyline will drive like it’s the Indy 500. Once again, that goes back to the Spartans’ line, which has been able to keep Heaps relatively comfortable all season. The Spartans defense has allowed more than 7 points only once this season, so if they can get to 21 points or more, that should be enough.
THE TIMES’ PICK: Skyline 28, Federal Way 14
Liberty at Kennedy, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Highline Stadium.
Liberty wins if…it can hold down the big play. And it will have to do that in every way, not just on defense. The Patriots will have to avoid letting Tre Watson or Nolan Washington break free on a run, kickoff return or an interception return. On defense, Liberty can help its cause to put some pressure on freshman QB Jason Thompson. On offense, the Patriots are at their best when the fly has some balance. Big game for sophomore QB Trey Wheeler.
Kennedy wins if…Watson and Washington run hog wild. That’s been the consistent theme this season for the Lancers, whose only loss came in week 1, when Kentwood stopped them cold in the second half. The Lancer defense and LB DeMario Carter probably don’t get enough credit, but that’s likely because Watson has scored 34 touchdowns this season, and Washington has added 12 more. Those are huge numbers.
THE TIMES’ PICK: Kennedy 35, Liberty 31
Woodinville at Auburn, 7 p.m. Friday.
Woodinville wins if…its defense can keep rolling. Shutting out Issaquah and Heritage in back to back weeks is not an easy thing to do. The Falcons are a defense-focused team (coach Wayne Maxwell was a college DB), but they’re about to get one of their greatest challenges of the season. Stopping Auburn’s run game won’t be easy. On offense, it will be interesting to see if the Falcons have their starting QB and RB. Both were hurt last week against Heritage.
Auburn wins if…it runs through Woodinville the way it did through the SPSL North. Jeff Gouveia is a monster at both FB and LB, but he’s far from the only guy that makes this an elite run game. One 4A coach said this week that Auburn was the biggest team he had seen all season. That’s a challenge for Woodinville, which can draw something from the way it played against Issaquah, another very large team.
THE TIMES’ PICK: Auburn 24, Woodinville 15.
Kentwood at Isssaquah, 7 p.m. Saturday.
Kentwood wins if…the Conks can get some kind of push on the Eagles. Kentwood should be able to run against Issaquah, just as Marysville-Pilchuck did last week, but for the Tomahawks, it didn’t matter because they lost up front on defense. If Kentwood allows Issaquah to have space and time on offense, the Conquerors could find themselves quickly out of the game. But if they can make some stops, Darrius Coleman and that offense can stick with Issaquah.
Issaquah wins if…it keeps Coleman from breaking free. The Eagles gave up more than 200 rushing yards last week, but they let a runner get all the way to the end zone only once. If the Eagles don’t let Coleman go crazy, they have an offense that can keep up. The Eagles also need to stay healthy. When it has its top 22 starters, Issaquah has a team that can play with anyone in the state. But when one part leaves, the whole tends to struggle. The team that beat Bothell, Eastlake and Marysville-Pilchuck was significantly different than the one that lost to Skyline and Woodinville by a combined score of 59-0. The Eagles will hope its trainer stays off the field.
THE TIMES’ PICK: Issaquah 28, Kentwood 21