Football state first round previews, predictions

You should feel good about an 8-1 week. But, oh, that Skyview game. That was a big whiff.

Even so, it put my season mark at 96-28 (77 percent).

It leaves you a little gun-shy about this week’s picks.

There are five local teams still alive.

Here are the State first-round previews:



Woodland (8-2) vs. Mount Baker (8-1)

When, where: 7 p.m., Civic Stadium, Bellingham.

Last week: Woodland beat Tenino 28-3; Mount Baker was idle.

Game notes: The Mountaineers from Deming come into this game well rested. After finishing with the best record among 1A teams in the 3A/2A/1A Northwest League, Mount Baker got a free pass into the state tournament and did not play last week. … Mount Baker’s lone loss was a 55-14 setback to Lynden, a highly ranked team in Class 2A. … Mount Baker likes to run the ball about 80 percent of the time, but receiver Zan Roman is a capable passing target. … Roman also have seven interceptions this season. … Mount Baker has not won a state playoff game since 1999. … Woodland returned to Class 1A after several seasons as a 2A school. … The Beavers last trip to state came in 2005 (at 2A). They have not won a state playoff game since 1984. … Eli and Cy Whitmire are a 1-2 punching in Woodland’s running attack, rushing for 765 and 708 yards this season. … QB Hunter Huddleston has passed for 987 yards and 11 TDs.

Columbian’s take: Even though Mount Baker hasn’t won at state in several years, District 1 has fared well at state in recent years. And it’s a long trip from Woodland to Bellingham. Prediction: Mount Baker 33-20



Meridian (6-4) vs. La Center (10-0)

When, where: 1 p.m., District Stadium, Battle Ground.

Last week: Meridian beat Eatonville 26-15; La Center beat Elma 48-14.

Game notes: Meridian of Bellingham lost two of its last three regular-season games (to Blaine and Mount Baker) and had to play a three-team tiebreaker on Oct. 30, beating Blaine and Coupeville to reach a tri-district playoff against Eatonville. …. The Trojans survived to beat Eatonville despite committing four turnovers … Meridian lost to Trico League champion Toledo 24-21 in last year’s state playoffs. … Like La Center, Meridian likes to spread the ball around in its running game. Junior Castro led the Trojans with 619 yards and two TDs. … Last week, three Meridian players rushed for 81 yards or more (Castro 81, Latrez Jones 81 and Max McGuinn 86). … QB McGuinn passed for 94 yards. … La Center is led by Connor Fulton’s 800 rushing yards as 12 TDs, followed closely by Jared Huddleston’s 797 yards and 12 TDs. Wyatt Aguirre has 660 yards and 6 TDs … Aguirre rushed for 143 in the win over Elma.

Columbian’s take: Two teams with similar M.O.’s: they like to run the ball first, but can pass it when they need to. And they both play tough defense. Prediction: La Center 27-20


Union (7-3) vs. Gonzaga Prep (9-1)

When, where: 1 p.m., Gonzaga Prep, Spokane.


Last week: Union beat Graham-Kapowsin 39-22; Gonzaga Prep beat Chiawana 55-28.

Game notes: Gonzaga Prep is a dangerous running team. The Bullpups from Spokane have piled up rushed for more than 600 yards in each of their past two games. … QB Zach Bonneau rushed for 309 yards on 19 carries last week. RB Griffin Hare added 252 yards on 20 carries. … Union’s defense was ground up by Jesuit’s running attack in Week 2. The Titans will have to apply lessons learned in that loss. … The Spokane Spokesman-Review called the 4A Greater St. Helens League a “historically … weak league.” If advancing a team to the state semifinals two of the last three years qualifies as “historically weak” then guilty as charged. … In fairness, the 4A GSHL has been top-heavy in recent years, so the No. 3 team from the GSHL usually entered the postseason with a losing record. But the addition of Camas, a 3A semifinalist last season, has strengthened the league. … The Titans win and lose with defense, and they’ll be tested by a team that averages 426 yards rushing a game.

Columbian’s take: Playing a team from the east side of the state is a bit of an unknown quantity, as those teams generally just play other teams from the east side of the state. But the inability of GSHL rival Skyview to stop Newport’s ground attack last week does not bode well for Union. Prediction: Gonzaga Prep 35-24

Arlington (5-5) vs. Camas (10-0)

When, where: 6 p.m., Doc Harris Stadium, Camas.

Last week: Camas beat South Kitsap 43-12; Arlington beat Kentwood 21-14.

Game notes: Arlington scored the upset of 4A state preliminary round by knocking off No. 4 Kentwood on the road. … The Eagles entered the postseason having lost three of its previous four games. … Arlington QB Skylor Elgarico was the star of the game, passing for 177 yards on 15-of-31 passing and three TDs and rushing for 101 yards. … Arlington passed in the first half, ran in the second half vs. Kentwood. John Decker led the team with 114 yards rushing, 98 after halftime. … On defense, the Eagles halted the run-first Conquerors on the ground, forcing them to pass the ball more than usual. … Camas brings a more balanced attack on offense. QB Reilly Hennessey has passed for 2,212 yards and 22 TDS. RB Nate Beasley has rushed for 935 yards and 17 TDs. … Camas also has a tough defense, holding South Kitsap to -1 rushing. South Kitsap’s Adam Gascoyne was a 1,000-yard rusher this season. Against Camas, he had 10 yards.

Columbian’s take: The win over Kentwood was impressive. But it’s also possible that the South Puget Sound League’s North Division wasn’t all that strong. Prediction: Camas 38-17


Kennedy (8-1) vs. Columbia River (7-3)

When, where: 4 p.m., Kiggins Bowl.

Live chat:

Last week: Columbia River beat Bainbridge 27-9; Kennedy beat Mountlake Terrace 35-29.

Game notes: Before last week’s playoff win, Kennedy had won its previous six games by an average score of 45-6. … All those lopsided wins probably contributed to Kennedy’s struggles to put away Mountlake Terrace last week after building a 28-9 lead in the third quarter. … River’s problems have been getting off to a good start. The Chieftains have depended on their defense to post wins the last couple of weeks. … QB Clayton Frank could be the key to a fast start. Frank has passed for 1,199 yards and 9 TDs. He has also rushed for 589 yards and eight TDs. … Drew Thompson scored three TDs for Kennedy last week.

Columbian’s take: One thing River does not want to do is fall into a hole early. If the Chieftains can hang around, their big-play ability could be the key. Prediction: Kennedy 27-21

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