I drove from Everett to the Tri-Cities today. I’m out here to cover the 2009 State Cross Country Championships, which start Saturday morning at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
It should be a special day for lots of l
It’s too bad I won’t get to cover any football games this weekend. We have a bunch of interesting playoff matchups, including unbeaten Marysvi
lle-Pilchuck playing host to Graham-Kapowsin (6-3). That Class 4A quad-district game kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium.
I wrote a football notebook that was published in today’s Herald. I led the notebook with a look at M-P’s talented offensive line.
On Tuesday, I went to the Tomahawks’ practice and spoke to senior lineman Brett Parsons and M-P head coach Brandon Carson. I couldn’t fit all of their notable comments into my notebook, so here are some extended excerpts from those interviews.
Brandon Carson, Marysville-Pilchuck head football coach
*On playing Graham-Kapowsin
“They’re about 50-50 (passing versus running). They have good team speed and a couple of good, good receivers — maybe two of the best we’ve seen all year. And they have a pretty quick tailback. Their quarterback’s young but he’s going to be a tough player in years to come. He has a real good arm.”
“They’re a real good football team. Their three losses were by (about) a touchdown or less (against) a couple really good teams.” Graham-Kapowsin’s losses were 34-28 versus Curtis (9-0), 24-15 versus Bethel (8-1) and 21-14 versus Rogers (6-3).
*On defending G-P receivers Greg Logan (44 catches, 702 yards, three TDs) and Jamaal Jones (33-499-9)
“With the way our (Wesco North) league is, a lot of teams are throwing it quite a bit. Some of the (defensive pass coverage for this week) isn’t new; some of it is. We’ve just got to do a good job of reading our keys and covering their guys.”
*On playing a ‘home’ playoff game at Snohomish High
“We like that venue a little bit better than Everett Memorial. We just haven’t had very good luck at Everett Memorial the last few years. (A year ago M-P lost a playoff game against Issaquah at Everett Memorial.) Our captains chose to play (at Snohomish High). I let them decide and that’s where they wanted to play.” M-P wasn’t allowed to host Saturday’s game at Quil Ceda Stadium in Marysville because it doesn’t have artificial turf.
*What did M-P learn from its 2008 playoff loss against Issaquah?
“We just ran into a team that might have been a little bit better than us. Our kids competed hard in that game. The nice thing about it is some of the (M-P) kids who are still around, they still have that taste in their mouth of playoff football and they didn’t want their season to end that way.”
*On M-P’s dominant offensive line
“(Assistant coach Scott Stokes) does a great job with those guys, getting them ready for all kinds of different stunts and fronts and blitzes. They’re a real heady group. They’re pretty smart kids and they pick things up real fast, which is helpful. They play hard and they like being around each other. They’re a pretty tight-knit group.”
“I think they like seeing anybody — whether it’s Austin (Denton) or AJ (Kvangnes) or Zack (Hanson) — they like seeing people run for big amounts of yardage.”
*On star RB Austin Denton’s health
After dealing with a sore neck recently, Denton is “100 percent now. He’s good to go. He might be as healthy as he’s been all year.”
*On coach Carson’s decision to play Denton only on offense most of the season
“With him being our (key) guy, we don’t want to risk injury on defense. We want to make sure we keep him healthy.”
*On M-P’s strong linebacker group, led by twin brothers Suli and Siti Tamaivena (pronounced Tom-uh-vain-uh
“They’re pretty special players. When you go back and watch film if they’re both not making the play, one of them (is) around the ball. They’re always around the ball. They have pretty good instincts, that’s for sure.”
Last year, as sophomores, the Tamaivena brothers played on M-P’s sophomore team. This year, they skipped JV and jumped right to the varsity starting lineup.
“They’ve really stepped it up this year. They’ve gotten bigger (and) stronger and they just play hard and they play fast. They’ve had a great year. They’ve gotten better every week.”
Brett Parsons, M-P senior co-captain, right offensive tackle
*Why is M-P’s offensive line playing so well?
“I give credit to (assistant coach Scott) Stokes. He knows his stuff. Every single week it’s something new, and running our offense — you never know what the defense is going to throw at us.”
“He just teaches us well. He makes sure we stick to our rules … and if you do something wrong he makes sure to tell you about it.”
*On taking a bigger leadership role leading up to this season
“Definitely early on, honestly, I didn’t know who was going to play where. So I made sure that (all) of our guys went to the weight room, made sure they (got) their running in so they’re in shape. I kind of had to take a leadership role and make sure that everybody was doing the right thing and doing what it takes to be a good football player.”
*On how the O-line feels when M-P backs break a big run or have a great game
“As a lineman, I think I speak for all of us — we may not show it but we really take pride in knowing that our running backs are (able) to do that behind us. Give credit to the running backs. They run hard.”
*Why is RB Austin Denton (1,919 yards and 24 touchdowns in eight games played this season) is so good?
“A regular running back, maybe not as good as Austin, will maybe get 5 yards (on a particular play). But (Denton) just keeps his feet moving and he’s able to pick up (more yards).”
“At a high school level, I haven’t (seen a running back like Denton), not with my own eyes anyway. I don’t know what it is about him. It just seems like he’s slippery and hard to bring down. And he’s big (but) he’s able to out-run people. I don’t know how he does it.”