The past three 1A state quarterfinals have not been kind to the King’s football team.
For three straight years the Knights have made it to the quarterfinals and for three straight years that’s as far as they have gotten. This season, King’s hopes to finally get that quarterfinal win and advance in the state tournament.
“Sure the coaching staff and the team definitely want to get over that hump,” said King’s coach Jim Shapiro. “In all reality, our theme this season has been get to 1-0 every week. Take it one week at a time. This is another chance to compete and the kids know the objective is to go out and go 1-0 this week.”
Once again, the Knights will face a familiar opponent for the second straight week. In 2011, King’s defeated Hoquiam in the first round of the state tournament. Last week, the Knights defeated the Grizzlies 28-13 in a rematch to set up a showdown with Montesano, the same team that knocked King’s out of the playoffs last season with a 35-13 win.
“I think both games last year and the year before were real competitive,” Shapiro said. “We had some turnovers last year that cost us. It’s kind of a crapshoot. I think it’ll be a pretty even match on Saturday.”
King’s has been matched up against Montesano for three consecutive postseasons. The Knights defeated the Bulldogs 35-20 in the first round of the 2010 state tournament, before losing to Montesano last season.
Shapiro says seeing Montesano so often, makes the two teams quite familiar with each other.
“Their system is pretty much the same from the last couple years and so is ours,” he said. “Their personnel has changed, and some of the names, but so have ours.”
Despite the rivalry with the Bulldogs, Shapiro was quick to point out that there is no “bad blood” between the two teams. He said they both respect each other, and are looking forward to playing a good, clean game and shaking hands at the end.
“There are teams where there is some bad blood, or bad attitudes,” Shapiro said. “But Montesano, every time we play them has been great games. They’re real clean. Always shake our hands and meet with us at the end.”
King’s will once again look to quarterback Billy Green. The leading passer in the Cascade Conference showed his mobility in last week’s come-from-behind win over Hoquiam, rushing for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
The Brigham Young University commit also completed 20-of-30 pass attempts for 232 yards and two more touchdowns.
“We’re very excited,” Green said after last Saturday’s game. “They got us last year, so we want to come back strong. It’ll be a good matchup of two very strong teams.”
The game, being played at Stewart Field in Aberdeen, is a home game for Montesano. That, coupled with wind and rain in the forecast, may alarm some coaches who run a spread offense with lots of passing.
But not Shapiro.
“Most people look at a spread team and say, ‘Man they’re in trouble when it’s windy out,’” he said. “But our team uses more short yard passes. I’d love for it to be dry…but the reality of it is both teams have to play in it. Both teams have to hold on to the ball.”
In their matchup last year, the Knights had two critical turnovers in the red zone that cost them.
Shapiro says his King’s team isn’t nervous for the game, or worried about past quarterfinals. He’s excited for another classic King’s-Montesano showdown.
“As a coach, every game’s different,” Shapiro said. “I think I’m more excited for this game than anything else. The kids are excited. I don’t think there’s a nervousness about them.
“It’s Montesano. It’s King’s. It’s the quarterfinals. It should be a track race.”