The Class 4A championship will be decided by a pair of schools just a few miles from another, schools so close that their players attended the same freshman campus together. And there’s no doubt that the Class 4A champion will come from the KingCo 4A conference.
Skyline held on for a 24-21 win against a Ferris team that was extremely impressive in person. Issaquah beat Central Kitsap 31-13 at the Dome just a few hours later. And now it will be Skyline and Issaquah in the 4A championship next Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
These teams have met before, at Issaquah on Oct. 18, and Skyline won rather easily, 38-0. Issaquah, playing without a few starters, gained just 59 yards, including 0 net yards in the second half. Skyline QB Jake Heaps threw for 322 yards and four touchdown passes to four different receivers. Issaquah coach Chris Bennett called it “an old-fashioned butt-kicking.”
Issaquah’s offense has scored 31 or more in all four of its postseason games, and the Eagles should be much more in sync than they were the last time they played Skyline. But they won’t catch Skyline off guard in a close game. The Spartans have now won both close games they have played this season — in the KingCo 4A championship against Bothell and in the semifinals against Ferris. Skyline broke more on defense than it had in any game this season today, but it didn’t break in the final two drives, as Ferris sought the winning score.
Other important plays in Skyline’s win:
-Jake Heaps’ 15-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Heaps took a big hit at about the 10, but he kept driving his legs and stayed upright as he ran into the end zone.
-Ferris’ Aaron Roberts 68-yard catch in the second quarter. Why is this important? Roberts broke into the Skyline secondary and got past the Spartans, the first time anyone’s done so this season. Then Connor Halliday delivered a perfect pass. So attention Joey Bradley and the Issaquah receivers: it can be done.
-Heaps’ 13-yard pass to Kasen Williams with 34 seconds left in the second quarter. Huge play. Skyline had 3rd-and-goal at the 13, and Williams broke toward the front right corner of the end zone. Heaps threw it only where Williams could get it: a couple feet right of the sideline. And Williams kept his toes in as he caught the pass. That’s the difference between Skyline leading 17-14 at the half and trailing 14-13 or 14-10.
-Heaps’ 31-yard pass to Jake Knecht in the third quarter. Ferris had just gone 80 yards in 19 plays and 8:25 to take a 21-17 lead. But Skyline scored in five plays, the big one this pass over the middle to Knecht.
-Grant Engel’s sack in the fourth quarter. With about four minutes left, Ferris had third-and-9 from the Skyline 46. Ferris had already converted third-and-8 and third-and-13 on the drive (the second on a pass interference call). But on this third down, Engel slipped through the line and sacked Halliday for an 8-yard loss. The fourth-and-long pass was broken up by William Chandler. But it’s important to note that this was really the first time Skyline got great pressure on Halliday, as Ferris’ line was extremely tough. Issaquah needs to be that tough if the Eagles have a shot at disrupting Skyline’s second straight title celebration.