Rivalry game key to playoff picture

It’s homecoming for the Cascade Bruins football team tonight.

But the Bruins don’t need any extra motivation in a crosstown rivalry game against Jackson that could go a long way in determining who gets the third and final playoff seed out of the tough Wesco 4A South.

Cascade knows the Timberwolves would love nothing more than to ruin their homecoming.

“Homecoming’s a whole different deal,” said Cascade head coach Joe Cronin. “You get alumni there, the whole homecoming court and halftime show. There’s a lot of Cascade Bruin pride going on Friday night and I know as an opposing team, nothing’s greater than going into a team’s homecoming game and winning.

“So I’m sure Jackson’s excited. But we’ve got a lot of pride going in and we’re hoping to put on a good show for the Cascade fans and alumni in the stands on Friday.”

The Timberwolves have dominated the rivalry of late, but an up-and-coming Cascade team hopes to have a different ending tonight. Cascade (2-1 league, 5-1 overall) is ahead of Jackson (1-2, 3-3) in the standings, but knows how dangerous the Timberwolves can be and are not taking them lightly.

“Every week we go in expecting to win the football game,” Cronin said. “We respect each team. And especially Jackson. Jackson is probably the best 3-3 team in the state of Washington. Their record does not indicate how great they are.”

At 1-2 in league play, Jackson is fighting for its playoff life. The top two teams in the conference — currently Edmonds-Woodway and Kamiak and Cascade which are tied at 2-1 — clinch quad-district berths while the No. 3 seed goes to a play-in game for a quad-district berth.

The Timberwolves are currently tied with Mariner at fourth in the standings, just outside of the playoff picture. They know tonight’s game is as close to “must-win” as it gets.

“We definitely feel that way,” said Jackson head coach Joel Vincent. “There was definitely a bounce in our kids’ step in practice the last couple of days. They can see the handwriting on the wall. They can see what’s on the line. They know how important it is. They know we’ve got to win this game to stay alive in the playoff race.”

Both teams have one game remaining after today’s contest — Cascade faces Kamiak while Jackson will take on Lynnwood next week — and both teams know they need wins to solidify their position in a tough Wesco 4A South league.

“It’s just a tough league,” Cronin said. “Kamiak’s a good football team. Edmonds-Woodway is a darn good football team. Same with Jackson. ? Our motto this year is: ‘Respect all. Fear none.’ We respect Jackson but we are going to come out ready to play.”

Cronin said it’s important for Cascade’s offense to stay consistent, to keep Jackson’s potent offense on the sidelines.

“Our ability to keep getting first downs on offense and keep the chains moving and controlling the ball is key,” Cronin said. “And containing things on defense and special teams. Because Jackson’s great at both. They’re able to score on one play, so we need to prevent that on defense and protect the ball on offense.”

Jackson, meanwhile, will be keeping an eye on Cascade star quarterback Josh Smith.

“We’ve got to play great defensively,” Vincent said. “For Cascade, it all begins and seems to end with their QB. He pulls the trigger and throws the ball great. He’s a heck of an athlete and can run the ball very well. Defensively we’ve got to mind our p’s and q’s and be fundamentally sound in what we’re doing and do our best to corral that kid.”

Cascade knows that Jackson has the advantage in the rivalry, but the Bruins also see their crosstown rivals as a blueprint of the kind of sustained success they want to have.

“Jackson’s a good football team,” Cronin said. “In the past, they’ve definitely had the upper hand in the rivalry. Our kids are working hard to become a program like Jackson, where year in and year out they have success.”

Jackson vs. Cascade

Where: Everett Memorial Stadium

When: 7 p.m.

Key players: Jackson—Alex Cheesman, QB; Nick White, RB/DB; Travante Robinson, WR/DB; Keynan Foster, WR/DB; Jake Miles, OL/LB; Alek Baumgartner, WR; Michael Zeng, K. Cascade—Josh Smith, QB; Kejuan Coleman, RB/LB; Kaleb Dobson, WR/DB; Casey Smith, TE/DL; Randin Crecelius, OL/DL; KJ Brady, WR/DB; Nate Elliot, RB/LB.

Twitter: @krueger_david

Monroe vs. Arlington

Where: John C. Larson Stadium, Arlington

When: 7 p.m.

Breakdown: The Ashley Bowl has a lot more on the line than just family pride. Yes it’s father-in-law (Monroe coach Dick Abrams) against son-in-law (Arlington coach Greg Dailer), but this game has implications on the playoff picture (see story at right). If Arlington wins it locks up at least a share of the Wesco 4A North title while a win for Monroe keeps the Bearcats title hopes alive. Last year Monroe defeated Arlington 29-22 on its way to a 4A North title. The Eagles hope they can return the favor.

Radio: KRKO, 1380 AM

Twitter: @aaronlommers

Mariner vs. Kamiak

Where: Goddard Stadium, Everett

When: 7 p.m.

Breakdown: The Knights have some work to do before they can claim a playoff spot. In the competitive 4A South, Kamiak must at least win one of its final two games to have a shot at a playoff spot and even then nothing is guaranteed. With a showdown with 5-1 Cascade next week it would seem that tonight’s matchup against 1-5 Mariner would be the better chance for Kamiak to get that win. But it’s not that easy. This is a rivalry game and the Marauders have beaten Kamiak three straight years, including a lopsided 50-22 win last season. At least Kamiak will have star running back Austin Hall back for this one after missing last week’s loss to Edmonds-Woodway with a concussion.

Twitter: @jonsap

Sultan vs. Arch. Murphy

Where: Terry Ennis Stadium, Everett

When: 7 p.m.

Breakdown: This has been one strange, tough season for Archbishop Murphy. Used to running roughshod over the Cascade Conference, the Wildcats instead are having trouble getting its first conference win in 2013. After blowout losses to King’s and Lakewood, last week was Murphy’s first real chance. But after building a 21-7 lead, the Wildcats allowed South Whidbey back in the game and the Falcons eventually won the game 22-21 in the final seconds. Tonight the Wildcats host the upstart Turks on homecoming and the hope is a big, energetic crowd can propel them to their first league win and keep their playoff hopes alive. Of course Sultan is no slouch and nothing would make the Turks feel better than to get their first-ever win over Archbishop Murphy on its homecoming night.

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