Playoff football preview: Beamer will have to stop Skyview offense in first-ever postseason appearance

Todd Beamer senior quarterback T.J. Esekielu leads the Titans into their first-ever postseason appearance on Saturday against the Skyview Storm at 4 p.m. at the Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver. Beamer finished 4-5 during the regular season. - Casey Olson/The Mirror
Todd Beamer senior quarterback T.J. Esekielu leads the Titans into their first-ever postseason appearance on Saturday against the Skyview Storm at 4 p.m. at the Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver. Beamer finished 4-5 during the regular season.
— image credit: Casey Olson/The Mirror

What: 2010 Class 4A State Preliminary Round Football Playoffs, Todd Beamer @ Skyview.

When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6

Where: Kiggins Bowl, Vancouver.

What’s at stake: A berth into the first round of the 16-team Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The winner of the Beamer-Skyview game will play the winner of a game between Edmonds-Woodway and Auburn. Edmonds-Woodway (6-3) finished second in the Wesco Conference South Division, and Auburn (7-2) finished second in the South Puget Sound League North Division behind Kentwood. The Beamer-Skyview winner will host the first-round game on Nov. 12 or 13.

How they got here: Beamer (4-5 overall) will be making its first-ever appearance in the postseason after finishing in fourth place in the SPSL South Division with a 4-4 record in league play. Their four losses in the division came to Curtis, Bethel, Rogers and Federal Way, while they had wins over Graham-Kapowsin, Emerald Ridge, Puyallup and Spanaway Lake.

Skyview (7-2) earned the Greater St. Helen’s League championship with a perfect 4-0 record. Skyview’s two losses came to Sherwood, Ore. in their first game of the season, 42-28. Their only in-state loss came to Class 3A Camas, 28-12, on Sept. 24. Skyview has played in the Class 4A tournament three times in the past four years. The Storm advanced to the semifinals last year before losing to Ferris, 46-41.

Why Skyview will win: The Storm’s offense can put up points in bunches. Skyview is averaging 37 points a game and have been scoring at a 46 point-a-game clip during their five-game winning streak after losing to Camas.

The high-powered Storm offense is led by quarterback Kieran McDonagh. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder is in his first season at the helm and completed 17 of 22 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns during the Storm’s victory over Union in the GSHL title game last week.

McDonagh’s main target is wide receiver Ellis Henderson, who has offers from schools like Hawaii, Idaho, Air Force and Washington State. Henderson had six catches for 70 yards and a touchdown during the win over Union.

But the Storm can also run the ball, thanks to Parker Henry. Henry finished with over 1,000 yards on the ground during the regular season.

The Skyview defense is a bend-but-don’t-break bunch. The Storm defense has given up an average of 22 points a game, including over 21 points six times and over 30 three times.

This is the second year in a row that Skyview has played a Federal Way school in the preliminary round. Skyview thumped Federal Way, 56-14, last season in Vancouver.

Why Beamer will win:

It will be a tall task to ask the Titans’ defense to hold down the talented and explosive Skyview offense. But the Beamer defense, led by middle linebacker Nicky Fuallaau, will need to play better than it did last week when the Titans’ gave up 70 points to Curtis and 40 or more points six times in their nine games.

But Beamer, like Skyview, does have an offense that can also put points on the scoreboard. The Titans are led by senior quarterback T.J. Esekielu, who became the first player in the 36-year history of the SPSL to pass for over 1,000 yards and run for over 1,000 in a season. He finished the regular season with 1,386 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and 1,271 yards and 12 TD’s through the air. Esekielu’s 2,657 yards of total offense rank him third all-time in SPSL history behind Lake’s Drew Miller, who had 3,366 in 1995, and Bethel’s current quarterback Justin Hordyk.

Fuallaau, Nick Bod and Dominique Maxie were Esekielu’s favorite targets during the regular season. The threesome combined to catch 10 touchdown passes and Maxie finished with 163 yards and two touchdowns last week.

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