In this edition, I’ll look at how the Harold Lee Show was almost cancelled at Auburn this season, the minor adjustments that went a long way in Jackson’s overtime win and a viewer’s guide for all the big games in each league the rest of the way.
Of course, as always, big performances and rankings are at the bottom.
But first, to lead us off, I talked with O’Dea’s Tatum Taylor and Seattle Prep’s Tere Calloway, best friends with plenty of Division I offers who hope to play together after high school.
A story worth watching
Every once in a while, a college recruiter will call Tere Calloway or Tatum Taylor and end up talking with both. Calloway, a running back and corner at Seattle Prep, and Taylor, a running back and corner at O’Dea, just put the phone on speaker and talk to the coach as a tandem.
In fact, as both continue piling Division I offers and inch closer to their decisions, that’s probably how they should be viewed: a package deal looking to play together at the next level.
“It’s to the point now where they don’t even mention Tatum’s name,” Calloway said. “They just say, ‘We want both of you guys down here,’ and I already know what they’re referring to.”
The two have been best friends since they started playing on the same youth football team. They continued playing basketball together and lived a few blocks from each other until only recently.
The duo can even recall their first youth football game together: Calloway, the quarterback for the C.D. Panthers, threw a quick slant pass to Taylor, his receiver, and, well, I’ll let Taylor tell the rest.
“It was my first ever football game, and he actually got me started playing football,” Taylor said. “Wide open, and it went right through my hands, and he’ll never let me forget that. That’s my life.”
The two split up as teammates in high school with Calloway heading to Prep and Taylor attending O’Dea, where his dad starred on the basketball team. But they still remained close friends; Calloway even texted Taylor before their game on Friday in an attempt to convince his friend to join him on his upcoming visit to Southern Miss.
Taylor scored two touchdowns in O’Dea’s 47-7 win against Prep on Friday. Calloway didn’t play because of an injury.
“We’re almost like the same person,” Calloway said. “We always joke around about that and call ourselves brothers because we do everything the same. When Tatum tore his meniscus sophomore year, three months later I tore my meniscus in the exact same knee. We always act like we’re the same person, except he’s a little bit faster and I’m a little stronger.”
And now they’re navigating the recruiting process together with “eight or nine common offers,” Calloway said. They started to realize they could play college ball together in the spring after Taylor received an offer from Purdue, which had offered Calloway earlier in the process.
Calloway said, right now, he sees the best chance for the pair at SMU, Southern Miss, Nevada or Colorado State. He also said he expects Taylor to add an offer from Colorado, which has already offered Calloway.
Rivals.com ranked Taylor as the fifth-best player in the state and Calloway seventh.
“I was talking to Colorado, and they started hitting me up before the season,” Taylor said. “And as soon as they called me, the first thing they said was, ‘We would like to get you and Tere down here because we know you guys are best friends.’ I hadn’t even talked to them yet.”
Taylor and Calloway bet on who could pull in the most offers. Both are similar in body size (shorter than six feet and somewhere in the 165- to 185-pound range) and both possess good speed. Both also have at least nine offers in their pockets.
“If we have three schools that are equal in our eyes and we can’t choose, and if one of us likes one more and can’t decide, we talked about this,” Calloway said. “If Tatum, for instance, said he really liked Nevada and I couldn’t decide, then that would be a situation where I’d say, ‘OK, let’s go to Nevada.'”
There is a chance they won’t play together in college, and both acknowledge that. But they’re also set on trying to make it work.
“There’s very few people who have the chance to do this with their best friend and somebody they’re so close with,” Calloway said.
Said Taylor, “We realize that if the best fit for both of us doesn’t work, at the end of the day we’re going to be happy for each other and support each other. Tere will always be my lifelong friend.”
The viewer’s guide of games to watch
In light of league play kicking off for most schools on Friday, I decided to do something a little different. I’ve gone through most of the leagues and, if you only had to care about one game in each league, I’ve hopefully given you a game to watch (Exception: WesCo 4A North. I have no idea what to make of that division right now).
As one coach recently told me, “This is the time where iron sharpens iron and we find out who is for real and who is not.”
One thing I noticed in putting this together: Oct. 12 and Oct. 19 are going to be monster days of football. On the 19th: Issaquah-Skyline, Glacier Peak-Meadowdale, Pilchuck-Oak Harbor, Fedearl Way-Auburn. And on the 12th: Bellevue-Mount Si, Eastside Catholic-O’Dea, Kentwood-Tahoma.
KingCo 4A Crest:
Woodinville @ Bothell, Oct. 19: Bothell just picked up its first win of the season, while Woodinville bounced back from its first loss with a win. I still think this one will decide the Crest Division.
KingCo 4A Crown:
Issaquah @ Skyline, Oct. 19: Not sure anyone is in the same class as Skyline this year, but this should be the Spartans toughest test the rest of the way.
Bellevue @ Mount Si, Oct. 12: Unless something unexpected happens before then, this should be 3A’s best team against 3A’s second-best team. Mount Si has given up 14 points this year, all in the fourth quarter. Bellevue has given up seven points in the last three weeks.
Metro League Sound:
West Seattle @ Nathan Hale, Oct. 18: Both teams sit at 3-1 this season, and this one will almost certainly decide the division winner.
Metro League Mountain:
Eastside Catholic @ O’Dea, Oct 12: Both teams are ranked. O’Dea is usually the class of the league, but Eastside Catholic hasn’t lost yet this year and could really push the Irish.
Wesco 4A North:
No teams in this division are above .500. At this point, it’s a total crapshoot to even make sense of it.
WesCo 4A South:
Jackson @ Kamiak, Sept. 28: Both schools enter 3-1 and 1-0 in league play. Winner here as inside track to 4A South title.
WesCo 3A North:
Marysville-Pilchuck @ Oak Harbor, Oct. 19. Winner here comes out on top in this division.
WesCo 3A South:
Glacier Peak @ Meadowdale, Oct. 19: Two teams that will likely be undefeated and highly ranked will end the season with an appetizing showdown.
Lakewood @ King’s, Oct. 26: Lakewood just dismantled Archbishop Murphy, and King’s appears to be the class of 1A.
SPSL 4A North:
Kentwood @ Tahoma, Oct. 12: Kentwood appears to be the favorite right now, but Tahoma actually registered more first-place votes in the preseason coaches’ poll.
SPSL 4A South:
Federal Way @ Curtis, Oct. 26: This likely could be the last hurdle between Federal Way and a perfect regular season.
Bonney Lake @ Lakes, Oct. 19: Lakes played a brutal early schedule and should be well-tested for this one.
Washington @ Orting, Oct. 19: Orting is 4-0 while Washington was one of the preseason favorites.
Lindbergh @ Kennedy Catholic, Oct. 25. Both teams have one loss, and that’s the way it could be when this one caps the regular season.
The Harold Lee show
Every year, Auburn’s Harold Lee decides whether to stop playing football in order to focus on basketball. That decision took place once again before this season with one added factor: Lee missed nearly all of last season after breaking his leg in the second game.
But Lee, a hybrid running back/cornerback and a bullet of a return man, eventually decided in the spring to play football his senior season. And the Auburn Trojans are glad he did.
Get this: In Lee’s last two games, both Auburn wins, he has scored on a 78-yard punt return, a 45-yard run, a 72-yard interception, a 45-yard interception, an 85-yard kickoff and a 28-yard pass.
The run, the two interceptions returns, the kickoff return and the receiving touchdown all came in last week’s 42-7 win against Tahoma. The win pushed Auburn to 3-1.
“It was just kind of the Harold Lee show,” Auburn coach Gordon Elliot said. “It was amazing to just sit back and watch the things he was doing. He just took the game over.”
Elliot knew that Lee, the starting point guard on the basketball team, was a good athlete. But no one really knew what to expect from Lee because he missed so much of last year.
“When he was a sophomore, he was just kind of a typical JV sophomore type kid,” Elliot said. “Really, this is his breakout year. This is really his first big chance to play.”
Auburn could have used him last year. The Trojans went 4-6 but didn’t lose a game by more than 13 points. They missed the playoffs for the first time in about a decade, Elliot said.
“We were just kind of one play away, and Harold obviously could have made a difference in that last year,” Elliot said. “There’s a chance if he wouldn’t have got hurt, he could have made a big play in a couple of those games and turned it over for us.”
Lee’s done that this year, but he’s also received plenty of help. Demontra McNealy and Brier Atkinson have both been big-time contributors on offense. So has tight end and defensive end Kevin Shelton.
Elliot said his team starts only three juniors on both sides of the ball, adding that “our biggest strength right now is we have a lot of guys who have been around for a while.”
Yet the last two weeks, and especially last week, it was the Harold Lee show.
Jackson makes all the right adjustments at halftime to pull off comeback
At halftime against Edmonds-Woodway, Jackson coach Joel Vincent left his team with a basic message. The Timberwolves only scored six points in the first half, and for an offense that hadn’t scored less than 35 points in a game this season, that wasn’t right.
So Vincent told his team what he saw.
“I thought all through the pregame we were a little flat,” Vincent said. “And then we came out and were actually flat in our execution. We weren’t firing on all cylinders. We weren’t our typical selves. I just had to remind them that we were a lot better than we were showing.”
Jackson came out in the second half and erased that 21-6 halftime deficit, then completed a dramatic comeback with a 36-34 win in overtime.
Running back Larry Baker-Bruce scored on a 5-yard TD run in overtime and Vincent elected to go for two. Baker-Bruce converted with a run and Jackson took a 36-28 lead, the Timberwolves first lead of the game.
Jackson then defended Edmonds-Woodway’s two-point conversion pass to win the game. Jackson is 3-1 overall and 1-0 in league play.
“I’ll be honest when our schedule came out, I wasn’t thrilled to see Edmonds-Woodway was our first league game,” Vincent said. “I think it’s a good yardstick to measure where we’re at.”
So what changed after halftime? According to Vincent, a few small, but important, adjustments.
After listening to his linemen in the locker room at halftime, Jackson started running the ball more, turning to Baker-Bruce and Trey Robinson out of the Wildcat formation. Robinson accounted for three touchdowns, while Baker-Bruce had two.
“Robinson had a monster year last year as a sophomore,” Vincent said. “And he’s a step faster and a step better this year.”
Of Baker-Bruce, who transferred to Jackson this year from Cascade and who missed last season with a knee injury, Vincent said, “He was a bit of an enigma. We didn’t really know what to expect to tell you the truth. But he’s been a great leader for us.”
Defensively, Vincent said his team also mixed up what the Timberwolves did with their 3-4 scheme in the second half.
“Based on feel and my call sheet by down and distance, I was bringing either one linebacker or sometimes two from different places,” Vincent said. “We essentially were doing the same thing, but we weren’t pre-aligned to it so they wouldn’t know where we were at.”
And because of those minor tweaks, Jackson opened league play with a big win.
Source: Some stats from Everett Herald and Tacoma News Tribune
– Bothell’s Danny Wilson rushed for 247 yards on 17 carries and had three touchdowns. He also had an interception.
– King’s Billy Green went 19 for 25 passing for 256 yards and five touchdowns.
– King’s receiver Caleb Taylor had seven catches for 150 yards and three touchdowns.
– Oak Harbor’s Isaiah Trower ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
– Mariner’s Dan Nadat had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown.
– Curtis’ EJ Deveaux had 186 yards rushing and two interceptions.
– Auburn’s Harold Lee had 333 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns.
– Marysville-Pilchuck’s Austin Joyner ran for 218 yards and three touchdowns and intercepted two passes.
– Rainier Beach’s Keiwuan Miller scored a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and return a kickoff for a touchdown.
– Bellevue’s Michael Carlson scored two defensive touchdowns, one on a fumble return and one on an interception return.
1. Skyline (Sammamish) (4-0)
2. Mead (Spokane) (4-0)
3. Federal Way (4-0)
4. Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma) (3-1)
5. Skyview (Vancouver) (3-1)
6. Camas (4-0)
7. Kentwood (4-0)
8. Gonzaga Prep (4-0)
9. Ferris (3-1)
10. Newport (2-2)
Out: Issaquah (2-2), Edmonds-Woodway (2-2)
1. Bellevue (4-0)
2. Mount Si (Snoqualmie) (4-0)
3. O’Dea (Seattle) (3-1)
4. Eastside Catholic (Sammamish) (4-0)
5. Glacier Peak (Snohomish) (4-0)
6. Meadowdale (4-0)
7. Kamiakin (3-1)
8. Mercer Island (3-1)
9. Kennedy Catholic (2-1)
10. Timberline (3-1)
Out: Lakes (Lakewood) (1-3)
1. Othello (3-0)
2. Capital (Olympia) (3-1)
3. Lynden (3-1)
4. Prosser (3-1)
5. Lakewood (4-0)
6. Tumwater (3-1)
7. Ellensburg (4-0)
8. East Valley (Spokane) (4-0)
9. Archbishop Murphy (Everett) (2-2)
10. Mark Morris (3-1)
Out: Burlington-Edison (3-1)
The 2A rankings have since been updated.