They’ll play for more than pride now

The preliminaries are over. It’s time for the first act of a four-act play that culminates in the Tacoma Dome Dec. 1-2.

If those prelims were any indication, we are in for more excitement than a body ought to have to stand.

Kamiak gets in on a partially blocked field goal that hits the crossbar and then bounces over in the Knights’ favor.

Sultan scores 19 fourth-quarter points and two touchdowns in the last minute to pull away from a tie with Port Townsend.

And Arlington sees its season end as Mount Vernon comes from behind to score two fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 14-7 decision.

Lake Stevens and Snohomish were spared the jeopardy of having to play a loser-out prelim by virtue of their respective league championships. But they are right there now with Tuesday’s survivors facing win-or-else contests against teams their equal or better.

Here’s a look at the matchups for today’s game and Saturday’s contests:

  • Kickoff: 7:30 tonight at Edmonds Stadium.

  • Records: Both teams are 8-1 overall.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • 2000 recap: Mercer Island’s only loss was to eventual Kingco 3A champion Skyline 38-35 in Week 6. The only blemish on Lake Stevens’ record was a 34-30 non-league loss to Sedro-Woolley in Week 2. The Islanders outscored opponents 307-140, averaging 34 points per game while allowing an average of 15.5. Lake Stevens outscored opponents 299-96, averaging 33 points a game while allowing an average of 11.

  • Players to watch: Mercer Island back David Kirtman, who is bound for USC, set school records with 1,252 yards rushing and 23 touchdowns this season.

    Lake Sevens back Matt Williams had 182 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 44-7 victory over Monroe.

  • Breaking down the game: Both offenses have proven they can score. But Lake Stevens’ defense has been slightly more stingy. If the Vikings can maintain that edge, they’ll advance.

  • Little-known fact: During their 1994 march to the Class AA final, the Vikings beat Aberdeen 21-14 in a quarterfinal game at Edmonds Stadium.

  • Pick: Lake Stevens 35-21.

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday at Snohomish Veterans Memorial Stadium.

  • Records: Kentwood is 8-2 after forfeiting two victories for using an ineligible player. Snohomish is 9-0.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • 2000 recap: Kentwood has actually won all 10 of its games and comes in ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll. The Conquerers, who beat Kamiak in a quarterfinal game last year, have outscored opponents 438-79, averaging 44 points a game while allowing an average of eight. Their only close call was a 15-13 victory over Tahoma, which is also in the state playoffs. Fifth-ranked Snohomish has outscored opponents 319-82, averaging 35 points a game while yielding an average of 9. Its closest game was a 26-13 win at Oak Harbor.

  • Players to watch: Kentwood back John Gardenhire rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries while playing just the first half in Tuesday’s 61-14 playoff victory over Puyallup.

    Snohomish receiver Eddie Zimmerman caught three touchdown passes and returned an interception for a TD in last week’s 41-10 victory over Sehome.

  • Breaking down the game: Wow! What a matchup. This could be a title game, but the winner still has a brutal road to travel. Whoever wins must play on the road, probably against a third-ranked and undefeated Bellarmine Prep. If they pass that test, they’ll have to travel to Eastern Washington to play the semifinalist there, and the eastern semifinalist has won each of the last two state titles.

    Kentwood is a juggernaut, loaded with size and speed. It will take Snohomish’s best effort of the season to keep the game close and the Panthers are going to need a break or two to win.

  • Little-known fact: Kentwood scored on each of its six first-half possessions Tuesday.

  • Pick: Kentwood 35-21.

  • Kickoff: 7 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln Bowl, Tacoma.

  • Records: Kamiak is 9-1. South Kitsap is 8-1.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • 2000 recap: Kamiak’s only slip was a 37-14 loss to Snohomish in Week 6. South Kitsap has won eight straight since losing its season opener to Rogers.

  • Players to watch: Kamiak back Reid Wilson carried for 109 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 24-14 victory over Oak Harbor.

    South Kitsap back Ryan Cole went over 2,000 yards rushing for the season with 344 on 32 carries in last week’s 47-32 victory over Port Orchard.

  • Breaking down the game: Kamiak is in the playoffs for the second straight year, but no team in the state has more playoff experience than South Kitsap. The Wolves’ problem has always been that they come out of a soft league (Narrows) and don’t face any really tough opponents until they reach the playoffs. In the past they’ve been shocked in early rounds. Kamiak is still trying to get over the playoff hump. Reaching the quarterfinals last year is the Knights’ high-water mark. They have to learn how to win the big games to advance. Kamiak is coming off a sloppy (five turnovers) game it managed to win against Lake Washington. But it’ll have to do better to move on.

  • Little-known fact: Kamiak averages 30 points per game while yielding an average of 11.

  • Pick: South Kitsap 28-21.

  • Kickoff: 2 p.m. Saturday at Othello High School.

  • Records: Sultan is 6-4. Othello is 8-1.

  • Last year: Did not meet.

  • 2000 recap: Sultan has won five straight games after losing four of its first five. Its 20-8 upset victory over Mount Baker in Week 3 led to the Turks’ first postseason appearance since 1986. Othello’s only loss was a 12-7 defeat by Prosser, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A, in Week 6. Othello is ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.

  • Players to watch: Sultan back Erik Solberg had 18 carries for 135 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 42-8 victory over South Whidbey.

    Othello fullback Dan McCourtie, who will play for the University of Washington next year, has rushed for 1,084 yards and scored 23 touchdowns this season.

  • Breaking down the game: Sultan is a lamb being led to the slaughter. But maybe the Turks don’t know they are supposed to lose. If they can avoid being shocked and intimidated early in the game, they might pull off the biggest upset of the season.

  • Little-known fact: Othello won the 1998 state championship.

  • Pick: Othello 35-21.

  • Class A: King’s (7-2) at Kalama (9-0), 7:30 p.m.

  • Class 4A: Bothell (8-2) vs. Tahoma (9-1), 7 p.m.; Bethel (8-2) vs. Inglemoor (9-0) at Pop Keeney Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

  • Class 3A: Evergreen-Seattle (8-2) at Ferndale (9-0), 7 p.m.; Mount Vernon (9-1) vs. Columbia River (9-1).

  • Class 2A: Lynden Christian (8-1) vs. Montesano (8-1) at Hoquiam, 2 p.m.; Elma (8-2) vs. Meridian (9-0) at Bellingham Civic Stadium, 7 p.m.

  • Class A: Orcas Island (8-1) at Raymond (8-1), 1 p.m.; Onalaska (5-4) at LaConner (8-1), 6 p.m.
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