If the Meadowdale Mavericks are going to return to the Class 3A state quarterfinals, they’ll have to get past the team that kept them out of last year’s semifinals — Eastside Catholic.
The Mavericks face the Crusaders at 7 p.m. Friday at Seattle Memorial Stadium, the same place the Crusaders beat Meadowdale 21-16 in the quarterfinals a year ago. The game is a first-round contest in the Class 3A state football playoffs.
“Last year, everybody said we had no chance and we went out there and had a chance to win the game at the end and threw an interception, but we feel like we can compete,” Meadowdale head coach Mike Don said.
The Mavericks have been eliminated in the playoffs by the Crusaders in each of the past two seasons, but both times Meadowdale kept the game close and low scoring. Don expects the same Friday.
“We want to run the ball, control the clock and play good defense,” he said. “You really don’t see us get into a lot of shootouts. That’s not really been our philosophy. The only shootout we’ve been in was that Marysville Pilchuck game and even that was a little bit different. I think it will be similar (to last year).”
In last season’s loss to Eastside Catholic, the Mavericks were able to establish their rushing attack, with running back Malik Braxton gaining 207 yards on 31 carries.
This year, Don has used Braxton primarily as a wide receiver — and so far it’s worked. Braxton has caught 34 passes for 704 yards and eight touchdowns, and has rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
Braxton’s yards have come in a different way, but he’s continued to be the explosive player he was last season.
“At this point in time, Malik is actually right on point with where he was last year yards-wise on a third of the touches,” Don said. “If we can get explosive plays with him, then we’re going to do that, but I’m sure he’ll get a few more touches (against Eastside Catholic). … How much? I’m not sure yet.”
Moving Braxton to receiver and giving senior Rory Spillum the bulk of the carries at running back has made the Mavericks more balanced on offense.
“It makes us more dynamic as an offense and more versatile,” Don said. “Last year, we struggled throwing the football a little bit, and this year we are almost exactly 50-50 as far as yards go. A big part of that is Malik. I think he opens up a lot of things because you can’t really stack the box when he’s out on the perimeter. You have to make sure you keep guys out there because he’s going to win one-on-one battles.”
Spillum has rushed for 1,061 yards this season. Combine those yards with Braxton’s 159 and the Mavericks’ two most explosive runners have rushed for 1,220 yards. Meadowdale quarterback Caleb Tingstad has thrown for 1,232 yards since taking over the starting role from JP Routen, who threw for 458 yards before an injury forced him to change positions.
Don said he and his team have talked about last year’s loss, but mainly to game plan for this week.
“We get an idea of what they do,” Don said. “They’re pretty similar both offensively and defensively to last year. We kind of use it as a point (of reference) to how they’re going to defend us, or how they’re going to attack us offensively.”
If Eastside Catholic follows the same offensive pattern it did a year ago, the Mavericks’ defense will need to slow down the Crusaders’ passing game. Junior quarterback Harley Kirsch completed 25 of 37 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns in Eastside Catholic’s win a year ago.
Here’s a look this weekend’s other playoff games involving local teams:
Newport at Lake Stevens
Where: Lake Stevens H.S.
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Key Players: Newport—Paul Wells, Sr., RB/DB; Thomas Day, Jr., RB/DB; Jordan Sanberg, Sr., QB/FS; Nick Keithley, Sr., FB/MLB. Lake Stevens—Tevin Gray, Sr., WR/S; Justin Brown, Sr., WR/DB; Riley Krenz, Jr., TE/S; Kolby Jones, Sr., OL/LB; Jacob Eason, Jr., QB; Andrew Cook, Sr., T/DE, Andrew Grimes, Jr., RB/LB; Hunter Eckstrom, So., WR/DB; Josh Rasmussen, Sr., WR/FS.
Records: Newport 8-2, Lake Stevens 9-1
What you need to know: Newport ended the Vikings’ season a year ago with a 62-35 win in the quad-district playoffs, but this is a Vikings team that has been on a roll since losing to Marysville Pilchuck in Week 2 of the regular season. Lake Stevens comes in with just one loss and one of the state’s premier passers in junior quarterback Jacob Eason. Eason is coming off a 23-for-28 performance last week against Timberline in which he threw for 441 yards and five touchdowns. Eason has thrown for 2,704 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.
Herald Pick: Lake Stevens
Mountlake Terrace at Marysville Pilchuck
Where: Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Key Players: Mountlake Terrace—Malcolm Johnson, Sr., RB/LB; Austin Bates, Sr., TE/LB; Ryan Lacasse, Sr., RB/DB; Mikey Jenson, Jr., RB/LB/K; Billy Parkins, Sr., OL/DL; Gabe Brady, Sr., WR/LB. Marysville Pilchuck—Austin Joyner, Sr., RB/DB; Nic Alonso, Sr., DB; Drew Hatch, Sr., LB; Killian Page, Sr., RB/LB; Corbin Ferry, Jr., OL; Bryce Vitcovich, Sr., DL; Hunter Trueax, Sr., RB; JJ Valencia, Sr., RB.
Records: Mountlake Terrace 8-2, Marysville Pilchuck 8-1
Radio: KRKO 1380 AM
What you need to know: The two Wesco 3A teams meet in the first round of the state playoffs with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. The Tomahawks are the favorites, having lost just one game all season and boasting one of the most potent rushing attacks in the state. Mountlake Terrace plays the role of underdog after recording the first playoff victory in school history, a 14-7 win over Capital last Saturday.
Herald Pick: Marysville Pilchuck
Meadowdale at Eastside Catholic
Where: Seattle Memorial Stadium
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Key Players: Meadowdale—Malik Braxton, Sr., RB/WR/DB; Charlie White, Sr., TE/LB; Nick Neely, Sr., LB; Tim Smith, Sr., OL/DL; Brett Schafer, Sr., K; Garrett Walsh, Sr., FB/DE; Rory Spillum, Sr., RB/DB; Jimmy Bruders, Sr., LB. Eastside Catholic—Harley Kirsch, Jr., QB; Addison Hull, Sr., RB/WR/DB; Dominique Fetui, Sr., RB; Matt Laris, Jr., WR; Devon Arbis-Jackson Jr., WR/DB; Hunter Bryant, So., TE/OLB.
Records: Meadowdale 8-2, Eastside Catholic 9-1
What you need to know: Eastside Catholic has ended Meadowdale’s season in each of the past two seasons, but both games were close and Meadowdale coach Mike Don said his team is confident going into Friday’s first-round state game.
Herald Pick: Eastside Catholic
Oak Harbor at Peninsula
Where: Roy Anderson Field, Gig Harbor
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Key Players: Oak Harbor—Dejon Devroe, Sr., RB/DB; Jackson Constant, Sr., OL/DL; Tyler Adamson, Sr., OL/DL; Dillon Harris, Jr., WR/DB; Mark Johnston, Sr., OL/LB/K; Clay Doughty, Sr., QB; Princeton Lollar Jr., So., RB/MLB. Peninsula—Robert Kvinsland, Sr., QB; Major Ali, Sr., RB/DL; Jared Boerner, Sr., RB/DL; Kyle Olson-Urbon, Jr., WR/DB; Matt Shirley, Sr., WR/DB.
Records: Oak Harbor 7-1, Peninsula 9-1
What you need to know: Oak Harbor and Peninsula’s seasons have followed similar patterns. Both teams lost close Week 1 matchups, Oak Harbor falling 30-28 to Monroe, and Peninsula losing 30-29 to Gig Harbor — and neither team has lost since. The winner of Friday’s game likely will see No. 1-ranked Bellevue in the quarterfinals.
Herald Pick: Oak Harbor
King’s at La Center
Where: Ridgefield H.S.
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Key Players: King’s—Ryan Fransen, Sr., WR/DB; Koa Wilkins, Jr., QB; Calvin Kispert, Sr., OL/DL; Carl Sather, Sr., RB/LB; Jackson Hand, Sr., WR/DB; Laka Wilkins, Sr., RB/DE; Nick Severson, Sr., WR/SS. La Center—Wyatt Aguirre, Sr., QB/DB; Max Hiller Sr., RB/TE/DE; Cole Judd Jr., RB/MLB.
Records: King’s 8-2, La Center 6-3
What you need to know: The King’s Knights have reached the Class 1A state quarterfinals in each of the past six seasons, but failed to advance to the semifinals each time. A victory over La Center on Saturday would give King’s a seventh straight appearance in the round of eight and yet another chance to buck the trend.
Herald Pick: King’s