Now it really gets tough

Kamiak and Lake Stevens get A’s.

Only eight high school football teams in each classification are still playing this week. That’s about 10 percent of the total population, putting any team that’s left in the 90th percentile statewide. That’s an A in this grader’s book.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to reach the championship game and win – A plus.

We all know how hard those A plusses are to come by. To get one, Kamiak and Lake Stevens are both going to have to perform flawlessly this week and the next and the next.

And they will have to produce those flawless performances against foes of equal or greater ability, teams that have also earned a grade of A and want that A plus as much as the Knights and Vikings.

Here’s a look at this week’s test for each team:

  • Kickoff: 7 tonight at French Field, Kent (KRKO radio, 1380 AM).

  • Records: Both teams are 10-1 overall.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • Players to watch: Kamiak backs Justin Washington and Reid Wilson each ran 19 times and gained 109 yards in last week’s 42-20 playoff win over South Kitsap.

    Tahoma backs Casey Robbins (23 carries, 152 yards), Matt Gerken and wide receiver Calvin McHenry accounted for 296 of Tahoma’s 312 yards total offense in last week’s 24-7 playoff victory over Bothell.

  • Breaking down the game: Tahoma is a grind-it-out club that relies on its offensive line to control the line of scrimmage. It hasn’t run up big scores. In fact, four of its victories were by a touchdown or less. But it has played tough against some very good opposition. Tahoma lost by a point to No. 1-ranked Kentwood in a game that was later forfeited by Kentwood. And it beat Kentlake, another elite-eight team, 3-0.

    Kamiak’s greatest asset is its balanced offense, which spreads defenses. The Knights field two accomplished ball carriers in Wilson and Washington, and quarterback Ryan Jones can move the ball through the air or on the ground. Kamiak is capable of mounting sustained drives, too. If the Knights can get an edge in time of possession through a turnover or two or by forcing some punts, they could move on to the semifinals.

  • Little-known fact: Tahoma placekicker Derek Prenner booted a 33-yard field goal against Bothell and made his four kickoffs unreturnable by putting them into the end zone.

  • Pick: Kamiak 21-17.

  • Kickoff: 7 tonight at Seattle Memorial Stadium.

  • Records: Lake Stevens is 9-1. O’Dea is 10-0.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • Players to watch: Lake Stevens quarterback Nolan Perkl completed 17 of 24 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 21-17 playoff victory over Mercer Island.

    O’Dea back James Beck carried 11 times for 161 yards and teammate Ty Eriks carried 17 times for 96 yards and scored three touchdowns in last week’s 51-6 playoff victory over Tumwater.

  • Breaking down the game: O’Dea is impressive. It started the season with victories over two 4A teams (20-0 over Gig Harbor, 30-8 over Puyallup), then swept through its division of the Metro League, posting five shutouts in six games before blanking Rainier Beach 28-0 in the league championship game. And last week it crushed a previously unbeaten Tumwater team 51-6. The Irish have outscored opponents 363-20. They’re explosive on offense – they blew open last week’s game with 23 third-quarter points – and they’re stingy on defense – they forced six Tumwater turnovers while holding the Thunderbirds to 69 yards rushing.

    Lake Stevens has weapons on offense. Matt Williams is an effective rusher. His twin brother Nik, a receiver, caught seven passes for 99 yards against Mercer Island. And quarterback Nolan Perkl is coming off a 252-yard passing performance. But the Vikings must keep in mind that O’Dea intercepted Tumwater three times. To win, Lake Stevens has to have some success moving the ball against that tough O’Dea defense. And the Vikings’ defense must keep those O’Dea backs from averaging 9 yards a carry.

  • Little-known facts: These two teams met in the 1994 championship game. O’Dea won 7-6. O’Dea is making its first quarterfinal appearance since 1995, when it won its second straight state title. Lake Stevens is in the state playoffs for the first time since 1995, when it lost in the first round to Gig Harbor.

  • Pick: O’Dea 28-14.

  • Class 3A: North Thrust (10-1) vs. Ferndale (10-0) at Bellingham Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.

  • Class 2A: Lynden Christian (9-1) vs. Castle Rock (8-2) at Keels, Forks (9-2) vs. Meridian (10-0) at Bellingham Civic Stadium, 2 p.m.

  • Class A: lacunae (9-1) vs. Qualm (10-0) at Longview, 6 p.m.

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