By David Krueger Herald Writer
Cascade football head coach Joe Cronin has been here before.
That is beneficial to the Bruins, because they have not.
Cronin has his Cascade squad — which just two seasons ago didn’t win a game — bracing for tonight’s showdown with Kamiak for the Wesco 4A South’s No. 2 seed. Having coached at Lake Stevens where he had a front-row seat to how important seeding is in the playoffs, Cronin is driving home the point of how important is a victory over the Knights.
“I’ve had a little bit of experience with this at Lake Stevens before and the second seed is a big deal, in that when you cross over with the (Wesco 4A) North (No. 2 seed) you’re essentially playing for the third seed out of Wesco,” Cronin said. “Which, at times, can be a very favorable opponent.”
Cronin also knows what can happen with the fifth — and final seed — out of Wesco, which the Wesco 4A North and South No. 3 seeds play for: a showdown with the Kingco, Narrows or South Puget Sound League No. 1 seed.
“At Lake Stevens we’ve been (the No. 5 seed) a couple times,” Cronin said. “We played Curtis and Rogers. Really tough teams.”
This year the Wesco No. 5 seed plays the Narrows No. 1, while the No. 3 seed takes on the SPSL North’s No. 2 team.
Cascade (3-1 league, 6-1 overall) knows it’s not going to be easy to take that Wesco 4A South No. 2 seed from Kamiak (3-1, 5-2). Last year the Knights ran all over the Bruins and forced eight Cascade turnovers as Kamiak cruised to a 49-13 win.
“First of all, they’re a good team,” Cronin said. “They’ve got a big offensive line. (Joseph Binda Jr.), the running back, is great. Obviously, Austin Hall’s a great player. They definitely have some good players. I think the key for us to be able to stop the run game, if we can contain them, we have a good shot.”
It looks like the Knights might again be without their star running back Hall. According to Kamiak head coach Dan Mack, Hall — who has struggled to stay healthy in the latter part of the season — wasn’t feeling good during last Friday’s game against Mariner. Mack took Hall out of the game and has held him out of practice all week.
However, even without Hall, Kamiak has a rising star in Binda Jr. The sophomore carried the ball 20 times for 217 yards and four touchdowns without even recording a carry in the first quarter of the Knights’ 48-13 win over Mariner.
“He’s had a good week of practice. He’s a capable back there’s no doubt about it,” Mack said.
Mack also knows the importance of seeding in the postseason, and how big a win would be for Kamiak.
“Obviously, you’d much rather have a two seed than a three seed,” Mack said. “And it’s a conference game, so it’s definitely a huge game.”
The Kamiak coach said the key to a Knights’ victory is to contain the Cascade offensive playmakers, including star quarterback Josh Smith.
“He’s like Colin Kaepernick to us,” Mack said. “He can run. He’s accurate. Their quarterback is a special kid. ? They’ve got some good players. We really have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and their program and we’ll have to be at our best.”
Cascade, meanwhile, is coming off of a big 37-0 win over rival Jackson on the Bruins homecoming night. The win was so impressive, Cronin was honored as the Seattle Seahawks 3A/4A Coach of the Week.
Cronin is eager to see how his team responds to the victory, and is hoping the Bruins can follow one big win with another. He knows last year’s tough loss to Kamiak is on the mind of his players, who also hope to keep their winning streak alive on Senior Night.
“That was one game last year where they really took it to us,” Cronin said. “I know our seniors and juniors from last year have that in mind.”
David Krueger covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter @krueger_david or email him at email@example.com.
Kamiak vs. Cascade
Where: Everett Memorial Stadium
When: 5 p.m.
Key players: Kamiak—Tyler Becker, QB; Joseph Binda Jr., RB; Henderson Belk, TE/DL; Riley Briggs-Thomas, OL/DL; Tyler Webley, WR/DB; Thomas Batie, WR/DB. Cascade—Josh Smith, QB; Kaleb Dobson, WR/DB; KJ Brady, WR/DB; Kejuan Coleman, RB; Randin Crecelius, OL/DL.
Scoreczar says: Cascade over Kamiak sounds crazy, but when Cascade put up 14 against Edmonds-Woodway the computer really reacted to that. Plus, a brief glance at common opponents is a little revealing, with the Jackson comparison being the most glaring. (Eds. note: Scoreczar puts together computer rankings of every football team in the state of Washington. The rankings are based on the formula Points Against/Points For multiplied by Strength of Schedule. For more information, visit the site at scoreczar.org.)
Scoreczar pick: Cascade
Herald pick: Cascade
Oak Harbor vs. Marysville Pilchuck
Where: Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville
When: 7 p.m.
What’s at stake: Wesco 3A North title
Scoreczar says: This will be a good game. Oak Harbor stays with MP the whole way. The computer actually has OH rated higher than MP, but the Tomahawks have one of the best offenses in the state and eventually overwhelms OH’s defense.
Scoreczar pick: Marysville Pilchuck
Herald pick: Marysville Pilchuck
For a full preview of the Marysville Pilchuck/Oak Harbor game, click here.
Meadowdale vs. Glacier Peak
Where: Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium
When: 7 p.m.
What’s at stake: Wesco 3A South title
Scoreczar says: Meadowdale, with a slightly harder schedule, has scored 203 points and allowed just 98. Glacier Peak: Scored 223 but allowed 148. Meadowdale gets near its average amount of points scored (29) because the Mavs are playing a rather average defense. Mavericks defense holds a rather good GP offense in check.
Scoreczar pick: Meadowdale
Herald pick: Glacier Peak
Monroe vs. Mount Vernon
Where: Bulldogs Stadium
When: 7 p.m.
What’s at stake: Wesco 4A North title (If Mount Vernon and Lake Stevens or Snohomish win, Bulldogs are champs; If Monroe and Lake Stevens wins, Vikings are champs; If Monroe and Snohomish win, Bearcats are champs)
Radio: KAPS, 660 AM
Scoreczar says: The most interesting thing about Monroe is that each year they manage to pull off an upset. Last week they did it again beating Arlington for the second year in a row. Mount Vernon, on the other hand was a computer favorite early on but has slipped down the rankings. Computer sees Monroe on an ascending trend and Mount Vernon descending. The problem for Monroe is that they have allowed double digit points in each game this year. Mount Vernon, on the other hand has scored more points than they have allowed 140/103 on the season and that makes this hill too steep for Monroe to climb.
Scoreczar pick: Mount Vernon
Herald pick: Mount Vernon
Shorewood vs. Mountlake Terrace
Where: Edmonds Stadium
When: 8 p.m.
What’s at stake: Wesco 3A South No. 3 seed (Winner gets shot at final 3A district playoff seed)
Scoreczar says: Mountlake Terrace and Shorewood is a fun matchup between the computer’s 44th and 48th teams in 3A. Shorewood has shown some life with a respectable showing in Week 1 against Cascade and last week when it managed to slow down Glacier Peak’s offense. The Hawks have their own set of issues, but, despite being shutout twice against elite Wesco teams, do have the capability to score. The computer favors Terrace’s offense over Shorewood’s defense.
Scoreczar pick: Mountlake Terrace
Herald pick: Shorewood