Look for Wesco to flex its postseason muscles

The playoffs provide a measure of the relative strengths of various conferences around the state.

The Western Conference has been the state’s top 4A football conference in recent years. It advanced three teams to the quarterfinals in 2005 and two to the semifinals last year, with Oak Harbor claiming the state championship.

The Wesco has 13 4A schools, about 18 percent of the state’s total of 72, so its representation in the later rounds of the state playoffs has been disproportionate to its size.

Expect more of the same this year.

It’s conceivable that all six Wesco 4A playoff teams could win their quad-district games this weekend. I think five will, with Cascade narrowly falling to Federal Way.

Respect for the conference is reflected in the state rankings. Edmonds-Woodway (No. 3), Oak Harbor (No. 5) and Snohomish (No. 7) are all ranked in the WashingtonPreps.com poll and Mariner is among those just missing the top 10.

An all-Wesco state 4A final is not out of the question.

Here’s a look at the playoff matchups and the rest of the weekend schedule:

Kentridge at Mariner

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Goddard Stadium

Radio: KRKO (1380 AM)

Records: Kentridge 6-3. Mariner 7-2.

Last year: This is a rematch of last year’s quad-district game won by Mariner 42-6.

Last week: Mariner had four sacks and five interceptions in a 28-17 victory over Kamiak. Kentridge quarterback Brandon Turner ran for two touchdowns and threw for one in a 28-0 win over Kent-Meridian.

Players to watch: Turner has rushed for 650 yards and thrown for 744. Mariner Running back Matt Jones has returned from an injury and is up to 537 yards rushing.

Breaking down the game: The point spread won’t be as big as last year but the outcome will be the same.

John McDonald’s pick: Mariner 28-14.

Mike Cane’s pick: Mariner 20-14.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Mariner 35-27

Snohomish at Kentwood

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: French Field, Kent

Records: Snohomish 8-1. Kentwood 6-3.

Last year: Snohomish did not qualify for the quad-district playoffs. Kentwood lost to Oak Harbor 55-7.

Last week: RBs Derek Jones (168 yards) and Miles Semanskee (130) combined for 298 of Snohomish’s 349 rushing yards in a 37-26 win over Monroe. Kentwood RB Demetrius Bronson, who was coming off an ankle injury, ran for 114 of his 127 yards in the second half of a 35-19 win over Kentlake.

Players to watch: Bronson has 1,219 yards rushing. Jones has 1,576.

Breaking down the game: In a rushers’ showdown, the edge goes to Snohomish.

John McDonald’s pick: Snohomish 21-10.

Mike Cane’s pick: Snohomish 24-20.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Snohomish 21-20.

Ballard at Edmonds-Woodway

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Edmonds Stadium

Records: Ballard 5-4. E-W 9-0.

Last year: Ballard did not qualify. E-W blasted Mount Tahoma 49-0.

Last week: Ballard fell 35-0 to Bellevue. QB Kyle McCartney threw for 175 yards and RB Tony Heard ran for 143 as E-W beat Jackson 56-21.

Players to watch: Ballard QB Joey Bolinger has passed for 916 yards and run for 449. Heard leads the Wesco in rushing with 1,650 yards.

Breaking down the game: With all due respect to the Kingco, Ballard hasn’t played a team like E-W.

John McDonald’s pick: E-W 42-7.

Mike Cane’s pick: E-W 42-10.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: E-W 55-7.

Arlington at Auburn

When: 7:30 p.m. today

Where: Auburn Memorial Stadium

Records: Arlington 4-5. Auburn 7-2.

Last year: Arlington did not qualify for the 3A quad-district playoffs. Auburn blasted Nathan Hale 61-0.

Last week: Sophomore QB Jake Pardun replaced injured Brandon Gunter and completed 10 of 16 passes for 127 yards and a TD in a 21-20 win over Marysville-Pilchuck. Auburn held Auburn-Riverside to 24 rushing yards in a 37-6 win.

Players to watch: Auburn RB Jeff Gouveia has 953 yards and 15 rushing TDs.

Breaking down the game: Without Gunter — and top receiver Jared Barber — Arlington can’t keep pace with Auburn.

John McDonald’s pick: Auburn 22-21.

Mike Cane’s pick: Auburn 33-14.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Auburn 28-7.

Granite Falls at Burlington-Edison

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Burlington-Edison H.S.

Records: Granite Falls 5-4. B-E 8-1.

Last year: Granite Falls lost 20-14 to Anacortes. B-E beat Cedarcrest 33-3.

Last week: Granite Falls RB Jullian Gamache ran for 224 yards and two TDs in a 28-15 win over King’s. Burlington-Edison RB Jeff Adams ran for 154 yards and three TDs in a 42-7 win over Sehome.

Players to watch: Gamache has 1,427 yards rushing.

Breaking down the game: Granite Falls is good but not on par with B-E.

John McDonald’s pick: B-E 35-14.

Mike Cane’s pick: B-E 35-14.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: B-E 24-17.

Blaine at Cedarcrest

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Cedarcrest H.S.

Records: Blaine 6-3. Cedarcrest 8-1.

Last year: Blaine lost 37-17 to Archbishop Murphy. Cedarcrest lost 33-3 to B-E.

Last week: Cedarcrest scored 16 fourth-quarter points in a 16-7 win over Coupeville. Blaine QB Daniel Gorze was 17-for-34 for 254 yards and two TDs in a 20-18 win over Lynden Christian.

Players to watch: Cedarcrest’s Brady Paxman leads the Cascade Conference in rushing.

Breaking down the game: Used to be Whatcom County teams dominated the crossovers. The Cascade Conference will hold its own this year with wins by Archbishop Murphy and Cedarcrest.

John McDonald’s pick: Cedarcrest 24-7.

Mike Cane’s pick: Cedarcrest 21-12.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Cedarcrest 23-22.

South Whidbey at Lynden

When: 7 p.m. today

Where: Lynden H.S.

Records: South Whidbey 7-2. Lynden 7-2.

Last year: South Whidbey did not qualify. Lynden beat Sultan 34-12.

Last week: South Whidbey had seven turnovers in a 28-7 loss to Archbishop Murphy. Lynden QB Tate Dallas was 18-for-29 for 329 yards and wide receiver Ryan Gaylord had 12 catches for 265 yards and three TDs in a 35-6 win over Mount Baker.

Players to watch: RB Levi Sawyers leads South Whidbey with 528 yards rushing.

Breaking down the game: After facing two top rushing teams (Cedarcrest and Murphy) in a row, the Falcons take on a passing machine.

John McDonald’s pick: Lynden 28-21.

Mike Cane’s pick: Lynden 27-13.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Lynden 35-21.

Bellarmine Prep at Oak Harbor

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Oak Harbor H.S.

Records: Bellarmine Prep 6-3. Oak Harbor 9-0.

Last year: Bellarmine Prep did not qualify. Oak Harbor beat Kentwood 55-7.

Last week: Oak Harbor QB Johnny Encinas was 6-for-13 for 108 yards and a TD in a 21-7 win over Cascade. Bellarmine QB Lucas Schindele was 6-for-10 for 167 yards in a 20-14 win over Lincoln.

Players to watch: Encinas has 1,730 passing yards and 25 TD passes.

Breaking down the game: Bellarmine is making its first playoff appearance since 2002. Oak Harbor is taking its first step toward a repeat state championship.

John McDonald’s pick: Oak Harbor 35-14.

Mike Cane’s pick: Oak Harbor 31-7.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Oak Harbor 42-17.

Kamiak at South Kitsap

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Peninsula H.S., Gig Harbor

Records: Kamiak 7-2. South Kitsap 6-3.

Last year: Kamiak lost 13-7 to Woodinville. South Kitsap lost 21-15 to Skyview.

Last week: Kamiak WR Skylar Stormo had four catches for 65 yards and a TD, and WR Tommy Benz had six receptions for 63 yards and a TD in a 28-17 loss to Mariner. South Kitsap fell 33-14 to Olympia in the Narrows League title game.

Players to watch: Stormo and Benz have combined for 726 receiving yards.

Breaking down the game: South Kitsap came apart in the second half against Olympia. The disintegration will continue against Kamiak.

John McDonald’s pick: Kamiak 17-14.

Mike Cane’s pick: Kamiak 24-21.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: South Kitsap 24-21.

Cascade at Federal Way

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Federal Way Stadium

Records: Cascade 6-3. Federal Way 8-1.

Last year: Cascade lost 15-13 to Puyallup. Federal Way lost 35-16 to Gig Harbor.

Last week: Cascade lost 21-7 to Oak Harbor. Federal Way QB Justin Southern threw three TD passes and ran for two TDs in a 42-22 win over Thomas Jefferson.

Players to watch: Southern has 1,753 passing yards. Federal Way RB Andre Barrington has 917 rushing yards.

Breaking down the game: Both teams can run the football. Federal Way has a passing game to complement its running game. Cascade doesn’t.

John McDonald’s pick: Federal Way 21-14.

Mike Cane’s pick: Federal Way 22-21.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Federal Way 14-7.

Auburn Riverside at Meadowdale

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Edmonds Stadium

Records: Auburn-Riverside 5-4 overall. Meadowdale 5-4.

Last year: Auburn-Riverside lost 12-6 to Lakes. Meadowdale lost 42-35 to Eastside Catholic.

Last week: RB Naji Moore carried 14 times for 157 yards and three TDs to lead Meadowdale past Shorewood 28-7. Auburn-Riverside fell 37-6 to Auburn.

Players to watch: Meadowdale RB Nick Montanari, who has been out since early in the season, had one carry last week. Moore has been sensational as an injury replacement. Auburn-Riverside QB Tyson Sykes has 1,048 yards passing. His favorite receiver is Thomas Dalton (632 yards receiving).

Breaking down the game: Meadowdale has been flexing its muscle against some tough 4A teams. All four of its losses were to 4A playoff squads (Oak Harbor, E-W, Mariner and Kamiak). It should be able to take Auburn-Riverside’s measure.

John McDonald’s pick: Meadowdale 28-27.

Mike Cane’s pick: Meadowdale 27-20

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Auburn Riverside 7-0 OT.

Bellingham at Archbishop Murphy

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Everett Memorial Stadium

Records: Bellingham 5-4 overall. Archbishop Murphy 9-0.

Last year: Bellingham did not qualify. Murphy beat Blaine 35-17.

Last week: Bellingham RB Jeremy Rick surpassed 100 yards in a game for the fifth time with 117 in an 18-8 win over Anacortes. Murphy RB Christian Milburn picked up for injured RB Henry Woods and ran for 90 yards and a TD in a 28-7 win over South Whidbey.

Players to watch: In addition to Woods, Murphy RBs Russel Stiegler (652 yards) and Tyler Allen (475) are among the Cascade Conference’s top 10 backs.

Breaking down the game: Bellingham’s first foray into the playoffs in 20 years will be a short one.

John McDonald’s pick: Murphy 35-0.

Mike Cane’s pick: Murphy 28-12.

Tom Lafferty’s pick: Murphy 45-20.

Other games tonight

Non-conference: Lake Stevens (5-4) vs. Shorecrest (3-6) at Shoreline Stadium, Squalicum (3-6) vs. Lynnwood (2-7) at Edmonds Stadium, 5 p.m.; Marysville-Pilchuck (4-5) vs, Jackson (4-5) at Everett Memorial Stadium, Everett (4-5) at Sedro-Woolley (1-8), Mount Baker (4-5) at Sultan (3-6), Lakewood (2-7) at Sehome (1-8), Darrington (9-0) vs. Seattle Lutheran (7-2) at West Seattle Stadium, 7 p.m.; Monroe (0-9) vs. Shorewood (0-9) at Shoreline Stadium, 8 p.m.

All three prognosticators were 2-2 last week. Prep Writer Mike Cane is 26-9 on the season. Prep Editor John McDonald is 25-10. KRKO broadcaster Tom Lafferty is 24-11.

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