By AARON COE
LAKE STEVENS – The Lake Stevens football team will try to do what no other team has been able to do this season against O’Dea.
The Vikings hope to move the ball against the Irish tonight, which is something no other team has done with enough regularity to win.
If Lake Stevens can find a way to score some points, it’ll make its first trip to the state semifinals since 1995 – the same year the Vikings lost to O’Dea in the state championship game.
“We’ve got to be able to run the ball,” Lake Stevens coach Ken Collins said. “Nobody’s been able to do it all year.”
The 10-0 Irish have shut out seven of their 10 opponents while outscoring them a combined 312-22.
Critics have said the domination is due to the fact the O’Dea plays in the meek Metro League. Those critics were silenced when the Irish pummeled No. 3 Tumwater 51-6 in Saturday’s first-round game.
“They have a nice offense,” Collins said. “But most of it comes from their defense. They get the ball back and give their offense a short field to work with.”
The O’Dea defense begins with a pair of 240-pound linemen. Jason Benn and Garth Enger have neutralized offensive linemen, which gives linebacker Nick Williams (not to be confused with Lake Stevens’ Nik Williams) a chance to feast on rival running backs.
The Irish offense is led by a trio of running backs who average eight yards per rush. Husky recruit Ty Eriks, a 6-foot-2, 220-pound fullback, rushed for 1,154 yards during the regular season and scored 20 touchdowns. James Beck and Dominic Dixon add speed and quickness to the Irish attack. The two running backs combined for nearly 1,000 yards and scored 14 times.
“We just have to play the game of our lives,” said Matt Williams, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards for the Vikings this year. “It’s just going to come down to whoever wants it more, and who’s going to work harder to get it.”
The Vikings’ defense has been solid this year as well. Not including a 34-30 non-league loss to Sedro-Woolley early in the year, Lake Stevens has allowed only 79 points while the offense has scored 290 points in nine victories.
Lake Stevens will likely have to throw the ball to win tonight, which is what they did to beat Mercer Island in the first round on Nov. 10. Quarterback Nolan Perkl passed for a season-high 252 yards in that game. The Irish have not faced a quarterback with Perkl’s ability this year, and Nik Williams, who caught seven passes for 99 yards last week despite coverage from an NCAA Division I recruit, can give anybody fits.
“Obviously Tumwater fumbled and stumbled and they got their heads down,” Perkl said. “We just need to eliminate the turnovers. If we do that, we’ll win the game.”
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