Last season’s Kamiak vs. Edmonds-Woodway game decided a playoff berth.
This year’s game comes much too early in the season to be decisive, but anyone who follows Western Conference football knows these two teams are once again playoff contenders.
“Whoever wins will set a good tone for the season,” E-W coach John Gradwohl said. “But, like I told my kids, if you lose, your season’s not over and if you win, your season’s not over.”
He couldn’t be more right. The winner may have the inside track to the South Division title, but he’ll still have seven opponents poised and ready to knock him off his perch. The loser will have seven weeks to recover from the defeat.
What makes this game so intriguing is not so much what was at stake last year as how the issue was decided and the fact that both teams appear to be evenly matched again.
“There are some similarities,” Kamiak coach Dan Mack said. “Both teams can run and throw the football.”
Last year’s game went into overtime and went Kamiak’s way when Knights holder Ryan Clay scored a touchdown on a botched field goal attempt and teammate Mike Boyle intercepted a tipped pass on E-W’s ensuing possession.
Neither coach thinks last year’s events will have much bearing on this year’s game, however.
“It’s a big game for both teams,” Gradwohl said. “I expect it will be well-played with enthusiasm on both our parts.”
Of course, both teams had graduation losses, but both also showed last week that they have quality clubs again.
Kamiak shut out district rival Mariner 35-0.
“They’re a really strong team,” Gradwohl said. “We have to play at a high level to compete and stay with them.”
Edmonds-Woodway ran over Everett 41-13.
“Edmonds-Woodway is a fine team,” Mack said. “Gradwohl has done a terrific job. They’re in the hunt for one of the three playoff spots and we are as well.”
Here’s a look at the pivotal South Division clash as well as some other key contests:
Kickoff: 5 p.m. tonight at Edmonds District Stadium.
Records: Both teams won their openers last week and are 1-0 in the Wesco South.
Last year: Kamiak won 14-7 in overtime in a game that decided the third and final Wesco 4A state playoff berth. Kamiak went on to reach the state semifinals before losing to Bethel.
Players to watch: Kamiak running back Justin Washington had 123 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries last week in the Knights’ 35-0 victory over Mariner.
E-W back Kyle Trew rushed for two TDs and returned a kickoff 84 yards for another last week in the Warriors’ 41-13 victory over Everett.
Breaking down the game: Edmonds-Woodway overwhelmed Everett with five straight first-half scores to take a 27-0 lead. Kamiak blew Mariner away with four second-quarter touchdowns for a 28-0 halftime advantage. So both teams started quickly, were explosive on offense and stopped their opponent cold on defense. Looks like they’re evenly matched again.
Little-known fact: Last year’s loss kept E-W from securing its first postseason playoff game since the two schools merged.
Pick: Kamiak 35-21
Kickoff: 7:30 tonight at Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Records: Lake Stevens is 1-0 in the Wesco North and overall. Snohomish is 0-0, 0-1.
Last year: Did not play. Snohomish won the Wesco 4A championship. Lake Stevens won the Wesco 3A title. Snohomish lost to Kentwood in the first round of the 4A state playoffs. Lake Stevens lost to O’Dea in the 3A quarterfinals.
Players to watch: Lake Stevens running back Justin Balunsat had 190 yards rushing last week in the Vikings’ 33-14 victory over Cascade.
Snohomish defensive back Ross Fay recovered a fumble to set up a Panther field goal and returned a pass interception 20 yards for a touchdown in an 18-17 loss to South Kitsap.
Breaking down the game: Lake Stevens was able to run effectively against Cascade last week while Snohomish had its hands full trying to defend against South Kitsap’s all-state running back Ryan Cole, who gained more than 200 yards and scored twice against the Panthers. Snohomish must do a better job defending against the run if it wants to avoid starting the season 0-2.
Little-known fact: This is an unofficial overall Wesco title game, pitting last season’s two league champions.
Pick: Snohomish 24-21.
Kickoff: 7:30 tonight at Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville.
Records: Monroe is 0-1 in the Wesco North. M-P is 1-0.
Last year: Did not meet. Monroe was 2-5 in the Wesco 3A, 2-7 overall. M-P was 4-4 in the Wesco 4A, 4-5 overall.
Players to watch: Monroe back Jared Wood ran 60 yards for his team’s only touchdown last week in a 51-6 loss to Mount Vernon.
M-P’s Ken Kam scored the game-winning touchdown last week as the Tomahawks outlasted Stanwood 45-42.
Breaking down the game: Monroe couldn’t stop Mount Vernon. M-P couldn’t be stopped. It could be another long game for the Bearcats.
Little-known fact: Linebacker Kody Wilkins is the only returning starter for Monroe behind the defensive line.
Pick: M-P 42-14
Kickoff: 7:30 tonight at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Records: Arlington is 1-0 in the Wesco North. Cascade is 0-1.
Last year: Did not meet. Arlington was 6-1 in the Wesco 3A, 8-2 overall. Cascade was 3-5 in the Wesco 4A, 4-5 overall. Arlington lost a district playoff game to Mount Vernon.
Players to watch: Cascade quarterback Paul Curtiss threw two touchdown passes last week in the Bruins’ 33-14 loss to Lake Stevens.
Arlington running back Joseph Boitano carried 22 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns last week in the Eagles’ 20-14 win over Oak Harbor.
Breaking down the game: Cascade got out to a 14-0 lead over Lake Stevens, then gave up 33 unanswered points. Obviously, the Bruins have to make some adjustments on defense, especially against the run.
Arlington, on the other hand, got ahead of Oak Harbor and then needed a last-minute pass interception to preserve its lead. Expected to be an explosive offensive team, the Eagles were held scoreless in the first half. They may have had trouble dealing with Oak Harbor’s speed and will see more of the same from Cascade.
Little-known fact: Arlington played in three of four AA state title games between 1979 and 1982, winning in ‘79 and ‘82 and losing in ‘81.
Pick: Arlington 27-21.
Wesco North: Stanwood at Oak Harbor, 7:30 p.m.
Wesco South: Lynnwood vs. Shorecrest at Shoreline Stadium, Mountlake Terrace vs. Mariner at Goddard Stadium, 7:30 p.m.; Everett vs. Meadowdale at Edmonds Stadium, 8 p.m.
North Cascades: Nooksack Valley at Granite Falls, Meridian at South Whidbey, Lynden Christian at Sultan, Lakewood at Blaine, 7:30 p.m.
Non-conference: Orcas Island at Darrington, 5:30 p.m.; Life Christian at LaConner, 7 p.m.; Mount Vernon at Burlington-Edison, Mount Baker vs. Bellingham at Bellingham Civic Stadium, King’s at Concrete, 7:30 p.m.
Kingco 4A: Redmond vs. Bothell at Pop Keeney Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Non-conference: Coupeville at Tacoma Baptist, 1 p.m.; Liberty Bell at Friday Harbor, 2 p.m.; Archbishop Murphy at Charles Wright, 7 p.m.