Class 4A | Issaquah vs. Skyline | Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Why Issaquah can win: The Eagles surely have motivation, after losing 38-0 to Skyline earlier this season. Issaquah is playing much stronger now than it was in that loss, the beginning of a stretch where the Eagles lost two of three. The line is back to playing strong, and so much of what Issaquah does relies on that. When QB Joey Bradley has time, he makes plays. When RB Grant Gellatly (when healthy) has space, he’s very difficult to tackle. The Eagles must go score for score in this one, so they will need that line to be near perfect tomorrow night. Ferris had success spreading Skyline out; we’ll see if Issaquah can do the same.
Why Skyline can win: In the teams’ first meeting, Skyline didn’t just win; it dominated. It allowed just 59 yards, and not once do I remember thinking Skyline didn’t own the line of scrimmage on a particular play. What strikes coaches who play Skyline is just how good the line is. “Their guys are very active up front,” Federal Way coach John Meagher told me this week. “We did not face a team that played harder than Skyline did.” Skyline can win because Jake Heaps had perhaps his best night of the season against Issaquah, throwing for 322 yards and four touchdowns — to four different receivers. If he’s anywhere close to that, it won’t be a great night for Issaquah at the dome.
PREDICTION: Skyline 31, Issaquah 16. This is a 23-point swing from their last meeting, and I think Issaquah will put together a much better showing. Skyline has too much talent, is too well-coached, and has so much motivation that I don’t imagine they won’t win.
Class 3A | Bellevue vs. Union (Vancouver) | Saturday, 4 p.m.
Why Bellevue can win: For starters, because no one is seriously hurt after that team bus turned over. Truly amazing. Now to football, where I’m going to repeat a stat I’ve used often: since 2003, teams facing Bellevue’s wing-T for the first time are 1-23 (fixed). Union saw Ferndale’s wing-T, but no one runs it like Bellevue. No one. Running back Peter Nguyen has gone crazy the past three weeks, rushing for 514 yards. And there isn’t a more disciplined, fast defense in the area from Class 3A than Bellevue.
Why Union can win: Because to get this far at 13-0, the Titans must be good. They have a proven coach and great athletes who can throw and run. Butch Goncharoff said today that Union is probably the best team the Wolverines have played so far — and that’s from a list that includes Bothell, Liberty and playoff teams in California and Oregon. And Union did hold down a fast running team in Ferndale, so it is possible. Few teams have tried to throw on Bellevue, but it has been done (look at the second half of the first Liberty game), and Union definitely can throw.
PREDICTION: Bellevue 24, Union 14. It’s just so hard to keep Bellevue from breaking a few big ones that I think Union comes up just a couple of plays short. Those couple of plays, though, will be huge runs — or maybe even a play action pass — and Bellevue wins its sixth title this decade.
The other games don’t involve teams from the Seattle area, but here are my picks for those games I turned in this week:
2A: Lynden 35, Prosser 34
1A: Cascade Christian 27, Cashmere 21
2B: Asotin 24, Napavine 19
1B: LaCrosse-Washtucna-Kahlotus 40, Wishkah Valley 36