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PLAYOFF FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Jefferson vs. Eastlake
What: 2011 Class 4A State Preliminary Round Football Playoffs, Jefferson @ Eastlake
When: 7 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 Jefferson/Eastlake game will play the winner of a game between Federal Way and Snohomish. The Federal Way-Snohomish winner will host the first-round game on Nov. 11 or 12.
How they got here: Jefferson finished up in fourth place in the SPSL North Division to earn the program’s first-ever berth into the postseason with a 5-4 record. The Raiders’ SPSL North losses came to Tahoma, Kentlake and Kentridge. They were also beaten by Federal Way in a non-league contest Friday.
Eastlake (8-1) was the top-ranked team in the state before losing to Woodinville, 17-14, in the KingCo Conference championship game Thursday. Eastlake has played in the Class 4A tournament four times since 2001, including an opening-round loss to Curtis last season.
Why Eastlake will win: The Wolves spent much of the season as the top-ranked team in the state and have played numerous big games this season. Eastlake vaulted to No. 1 after beating perennial power Skyline, 28-21, on Oct. 21. The Wolves also have blowout wins over Snohomish and Issaquah.
Eastlake’s offense is led by senior quarterback Keegan Kemp and senior running back Ryan Lewis. Kemp threw for over 1,000 yards with eight touchdown passes. But most of Kemp’s damage was done on the ground. He finished the season with 480 yards rushing and 10 touchdown runs.
Lewis finished the regular season with 1,299 yards on only 120 carries for an average of nearly 11 yards a touch. The 6-foot, 185-pound Lewis also tallied 20 touchdowns.
The Wolves also have a tendency for the big play. In seven of their nine games, Eastlake had at least one touchdown of over 60 yards.
The Eastlake defense has also been a very good group this season. The Wolves have allowed just 73 points during the first three quarters and have been extremely tough against opposing teams’ run games. Eastlake is allowing less than 100 yards on the ground.
Why Jefferson will win: The Raiders definitely don’t know what to expect against Eastlake. This is the first time the program has ever played in a postseason game. But that fact might actually help the Raiders. The senior-laden roster can play loose because the expectations for TJ are a lot less than the expectations at Eastlake.
The Raiders’ offense goes as senior quarterback K.W. Williams goes. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder had a monster season for Jefferson, becoming just the third player in the history of the SPSL to throw and rush for over 1,000 yards.
Williams finished the regular season with 26 total touchdowns, including 15 on the ground and 11 through the air. Williams finished with 1,244 yards rushing and nearly 1,200 yards through the air.
The Raiders’ offense does have other dangerous weapons besides Williams. Senior receivers Rithvik Lagisetti and Gunner Sonnenfeld both caught multiple touchdowns during the season. Sonnenfeld finished with over 400 yards receiving and three touchdowns and speedster Lagisetti led the Raiders with five TD catches, averaging over 20 yards a catch.
It was the Jefferson defense that was the problem during the team’s four losses this season. The Raiders’ gave up 38 points to Tahoma, 49 to Kentlake, 18 to Kentridge and 34 to Federal Way and also had the tendency for giving up the big play.
During TJ’s five victories, the Raiders gave up an average of 12 points a game, which included 30 against Kent-Meridian.
The Jefferson defense is led by linebackers Sonnenfeld, Luafatasaga, Williams and Shane Seauame, along with 310-pound tackle Jefferson Aumua.