The Lake Stevens and Kamiakin football teams took contrasting paths to Saturday’s Class 4A state semifinal clash.
During last week’s state quarterfinal round, Lake Stevens cruised past 10th-seeded Kennedy Catholic in a 44-21 rout, scoring all of its points before halftime en route to its fourth semifinal appearance in the past five postseasons. In the opening round, the Vikings dominated No. 15 Woodinville in a 41-0 shutout.
It’s been quite the opposite experience for the Braves in their pod of the bracket.
Kamiakin, located in Kennewick, held off Emerald Ridge 36-35 in overtime in the opening round and followed by gutting out an 8-6 win over 14th-seeded Mount Si in the quarterfinals, earning its second trip to the semis in the last three seasons.
Despite an eight-point week in the quarterfinals, the Braves come in averaging 34.5 points per contest this season, with senior first-team all-league running back Camden Schmidt leading the way with over 1,100 rushing yards and at least 16 TDs.
“Mount Si had a tough defense … one of the toughest defenses we’ve seen all year,” Kamiakin head coach Scott Billgin said. “But we know we’re gonna have to get clicking on offense. We know we’ll have to score points in order to beat these guys, because we know they’ll score points. We’ll have to make plays, and some of our guys are gonna have to be special for us to win this game.”
The second-seeded Vikings (11-1) host the sixth-seeded Braves (10-2) at 1 p.m. at Lake Stevens High School for a bid into the state final at Husky Stadium next Saturday.
The Vikings, who are vying for back-to-back 4A state titles, have been firing on all cylinders as they’ve marched through the postseason, outscoring opponents 139-21 over three games since the winner-to-state Week 10 playoffs.
Lake Stevens has beaten teams by an average of 31.1 points this season, allowing 15.4 points per game.
“Our guys are confident,” Billgin said. “They’re not scared, they’re not backing down from what we have going on here. We’re excited about the challenge of going up against the state champs. We told them at the beginning of the year, when we got beat by (Lake Stevens) during spring ball … ‘This is the level of play we have to get to to compete for a state title.’ And those kids took that to heart. We get to see how much we’ve improved since then and see if we can match up to their level.”
The Vikings‘ loaded group of skill players have provided senior quarterback Kolton Matson with a wide array of options to fuel the offense.
Matson has completed 66% of his passes, totaling 2,858 yards and 41 touchdowns on the year. He turned loose in last week’s win for 285 yards and four TDs behind 15-for-18 passing before sitting after intermission in the blowout victory.
Seniors David Brown and Paul Varela each have 45 total receptions, while Brown has reeled in a team-high 17 touchdown catches. The Vikings one-two punch of Jayshon Limar (789 yards, 9 TDs) and Talha Rai (605 yards, 11 TDs) have co-managed the running back spot.
“Kamiakin’s a well-coached, very athletic team and their defense is fast and aggressive,” Lake Stevens head coach Tom Tri said. “There’s a reason why their in the semifinals.”
It will come down to continuing to craft together clean drives and playing turnover- and penalty-free football, Tri said.
“It’s the playoffs, and turnovers are huge in terms of momentum,” Tri said. “… (and) we can’t go out and eliminate our own drives with mistakes and penalties. That can happen at this time of year. … A penalty can kill a drive, and we don’t want that to happen.”
The Vikings sit one win away from an appearance at Husky Stadium for a chance at consecutive state championship trophies.
“We’ve talked a bit about … how we can’t look past this game just because we’re excited for a chance to go play at Husky Stadium,” Tri said. “There’s a lot of excitement in the possibility of going and playing at a venue like that. It’s a really cool deal, but we have to take care of business this week and focus on the task at hand. This week we’re playing the Kamiakin Braves, who are a very balanced team. We gotta find a way to slow them down, be balanced ourselves, and do what we’re capable of.”