Pregame controversy adds to King’s-Hoquiam showdown

King’s and Hoquiam have already begun battling even before their first-round state playoff game.

Hoquiam, as the top seed in the playoff game between the two teams on Saturday, gets to host the contest between the Knights and Grizzlies. However, the surface at their home field is grass, and King’s coach Jim Shapiro thinks that playoff games should be played on a turf surface.

“We put a request in to be on field turf,” Shapiro said. “I feel like if field turf is available in the region, every team at state should have the ability to play on turf.”

As a result, the WIAA sent somebody out to inspect the field Friday afternoon. If the surface was deemed not fit for play, the game was to be moved to Stewart Field in nearby Aberdeen.

Shapiro said King’s would see what happens, but expected Olympic Stadium in Hoquiam was “going to be fine.” He understands that Hoquiam, as the higher seed, wants to play at its home stadium.

Last year, the Knights defeated Hoquiam 42-28 in a first-round game at Woolsey Stadium in Seattle.

“I think any team would love to play at their home facility. Really the reason we only raised the question was that if there were any viable turf fields in the reason, I think any coach would want to use it,” Shapiro said. “That’s their home field. I totally get it. I understand they want their advantage.”

As for the game, it pits the No. 1-ranked King’s team against the fourth-ranked Hoquiam, it what many thought could have been the 1A state championship. Instead, the two will play Saturday in a battle to advance to the quarterfinals.

The King’s coach said he’s not trying to start a pregame controversy. He just wants the best playing surface possible for the state playoff game.

“From the outside looking in, people think it’s this huge controversy, but it’s really just a determination of dates,” Shapiro said. “… We just want to make double sure that we had a good grass field to play on. My guess is it’s going to be fine.”

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