By AARON COE
Oh, those pesky Knights.
How dare they?
Don’t they understand that there is a certain order to Western Conference 4A football – an order that has Cascade at the top and everyone else somewhere between runner-up and Miss Congeniality?
All of that changed in 1999 when Kamiak’s 21-7 victory over the Bruins made the Knights the first school not named Cascade since 1988 to win the league title. And it left the 8-1 Bruins at home while the undefeated Knights went to the state playoffs, along with Sehome, which was lucky enough to not play Cascade or Kamiak last season, nor will it this year.
The Bruins have certainly not forgotten last year’s game, and will seek revenge 7:30 tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“We’re gonna want to stick it to Kamiak this year,” senior fullback-safety Joel Crawford said. “We’ve worked our butts off trying to prepare for them. This is my senior year, and I really want to get some payback against Kamiak.”
The Mukilteo school is only in its eighth year of existence, but that’s been plenty of time to become a thorn in Bruins’ hides. The two teams began playing one another in 1995, and Cascade holds only a 3-2 edge over the Knights.
“They’ve got a good program, like we do,” Cascade coach Rollie Wilson said. “They draw from a good area and they’ve got good kids and good coaches.”
Though Kamiak has beaten Cascade only twice, each victory has been significant and painful for the Bruins.
The 1999 win kept Cascade – which reached the state semifinals in 1998 and had most of its talent back – out of the playoffs for the first time since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
In 1996, the Knights ended Cascade’s 50-game conference winning streak with a 35-34 triple -overtime thriller.
“Those were big wins, but we’re not dwelling on the past,” Kamiak coach Dan Mack said. “We’re really excited about this game. We want to defend our conference championship.”
Since the beginning of the 1996 season, Cascade is 2-2 against Kamiak and 26-0 against the rest of the league.
A couple of years ago, Cascade going .500 against anyone in the league seemed as likely as the Mariners having a formidable bullpen led by a 32-year-old rookie. Geez, what’s next, Patrick Ewing in a Sonics’ uniform?
Justin Washington, who set a new Kamiak rushing record two weeks ago against Mariner with 206 yards, says, sure, why not?
“We are the king of the hill now, the way I see it.” said Washington, a junior who is already being courted by most of the Pac-10. “We are the defending conference champions. We have to beat Cascade to stay there.”
So, as bizarre as it may sound, it will be Cascade trying to knock the Knights off their perch. Victory is no longer a formality on the way to the playoffs.
No one knows that better than Wilson.
“This is a big game,” said Wilson, who said before the season started that it would be “football as usual” at Cascade. “It’s a good rivalry. You’d rather not be at home for the playoffs.
“We’d like to be at the top.”