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PLAYOFF FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Federal Way vs. Snohomish
What: 2011 Class 4A State Preliminary Round Football Playoffs, Snohomish @ Federal Way
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
What’s at stake: A berth into the first round of the 16-team Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The winner of the Snohomish/Federal Way game will play the winner of a game between Eastlake and Thomas Jefferson. The Federal Way-Snohomish winner will host the first-round game on Nov. 11 or 12.
How they got here: Federal Way rolled through the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record, thanks to a blowout win over TJ Friday night. It was the first time the Eagle program has finished a regular season unbeaten since losing to Snohomish in the 1976 state championship game. Federal Way won the SPSL South Division title for the first time in history and are making their fifth appearance in the preliminary round in the last six years.
Snohomish (4-5) earned the berth after finishing fifth in the Wesco League. The Panthers beat Jackson Friday night, 56-7, to earn the automatic playoff berth. Snohomish started the season 0-5, but have since won four-straight games in impressive fashion. The Panthers have an impressive football history, including 19 state tournament appearances. But the program has only played once at state in the past 10 seasons in 2007. The team won state titles in 1976 over Federal Way and also in 1978.
Why Snohomish will win: The Panthers have been one of the hottest teams in the state after starting 0-5 and they have been doing it the old-fashioned way — playing solid defense and running the ball on offense.
Offensively, Snohomish features a diverse attack. They have five players who have rushed for over 100 yards this season and five different players have scored rushing touchdowns. Junior Peter St. Marie leads the Panthers with nearly 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. St. Marie has been over 100 yards four times with his best game coming during a win over Stanwood on Oct. 14 when he ran the ball 15 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Conner McDonald has over 600 yards rushing and five touchdowns.
The Snohomish offense is led by quarterback Mitchell Stewart, who was 6-for-6 for 143 yards and two touchdowns during Friday’s win over Jackson.
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Panther defense. During their five-game losing streak to start the year, Snohomish gave up nearly 30 points a game. Since, the Panthers are giving up just 14 points a game. Linebacker Tanner Perry leads the Panthers in tackles from his linebacker position.
Why Federal Way will win: The Eagles just need to keep doing what they have been doing all season long — running the ball effectively and playing smash-mouth defense.
The Eagles’ offense is clicking on all cylinders after getting the services of star tailback/defensive back D.J. May back. The senior sat out two games after an injury. But he has proven himself healthy the last two weeks after running for 137 yards on just six carries during a win over Spanaway Lake and 224 yards on 19 carries in a win over TJ Friday night. On the season, May has 1,068 yards on just 103 carries and 15 touchdowns in just seven games. He also has a pair of interceptions for touchdowns on defense.
Head coach John Meagher features a two-headed quarterback in D’Londo Tucker and Evan Elliot. The pair have combined to throw seven touchdown passes on the year. Junior Mike Tate is the Eagles’ leading pass catcher with three touchdowns and nearly 500 yards.
The Eagles have dominated on the defensive side of the ball during the SPSL season. Federal Way has given up a grand total of 105 points on the season and has pitched two shutouts on the way to the SPSL South title. The Eagles had far and away the best defense in the league in terms of yardage and scoring. Federal Way’s front seven features a pair of college commits in Jordan Pulu and Uso Olive. Pulu, a middle linebacker, has verbally committed to Washington State, and Olive, a 6-foot, 320-pound defensive tackle, will play at Portland State. Linebackers Albert Havili and Rod Jones are also big-hitting, impact players on the defensive side of the ball.