Sports

Handicapping the 4A football field

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The Class 4A State Football Playoffs kicked off last night with three preliminary round matchups. The first round of games will conclude Tuesday and will leave 16 teams. The Gridiron Classic will be played Dec. 6 at the Tacoma Dome.

The Favorites

Bethel (9-0) — The Braves rolled through the rugged SPSL South unbeaten and without ever being tested. Bethel plays defense and runs the ball behind monster left tackle Aaron Klovas, one of the highest-recruited lineman on the West Coast.

Kamiakin (8-1) — The Kennewick school has the best defense in the state and their only loss came to the defending Idaho state champs on their home field.

Bothell (9-0) — Ranked No. 1 in some polls. The Cougars won the KingCo League with a perfect record. But they could face Bethel next week if both teams win openers.

A Tier Below

Kentlake (8-1) — The Falcons unseated two-time defending champ Kentwood to win the SPSL North title.

Kentwood (8-1) — To be the best, you have to beat the best and Kentwood has been the best for the last two years. But they don’t have the talent this season.

Evergreen (9-0) — Powerful offense will get big test tonight against a much-better foe than the Greater St. Helen’s League can produce.

Olympia (9-0) — Best team from the South Sound has three shutouts in nine games.

Pasco (8-1) — The Big Nine Conference might be the second-best football league in the state — behind the SPSL. Bulldogs were unbeaten until a loss to Kamaikin in final week of regular season.

Mariner (9-0) — The Mariner defense has allowed only 54 points in nine games and have thrown four shutouts.

Upset Minded

Jackson (8-1) — Have the most productive running back in the state in Johnie Kirton. The senior has 2,180 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns.

Ballard (7-2) — The Beavers might have the best individual talent in the state. Three players are Division-I recruits, including safety/receiver Keauntea Bankhead (undecided), running back J.T. Diederichs (Washington State) and quarterback Cole Morgan (Montana).

Inglemoor (6-3) — KingCo third-placers are led by Washington-signee lineman Jordan White-Frisbee (6-5, 290, Sr.).

Decatur (7-2) — This isn’t just a hometown pick. The Gators have the horses to make some noise, including a solid defense and a ball-control offense. All-everything Darin Harris is back to 100 percent after struggling with an Achilles injury for much of the season and playing with the normal reckless abandon Decatur fans saw last year.

Shadle Park (8-0) — The Highlanders are unbeaten, but play in one of the weakest leagues in Class 4A football — the Greater Spokane League.

The also-rans

Rogers (6-3) — Second-place team from the SPSL South. Blew out Decatur.

Lincoln (7-2) — Second place in the Narrows Bay Division behind Olympia.

Oak Harbor (8-1) — Won WesCo North Division. Only loss came to Lake Stevens.

Capital (7-2) — Third in Narrows Bay behind Olympia and Lincoln.

Fort Vancouver (3-6) — Only losing team in the final 32. Fourth in weak Greater St. Helens.

Shelton (6-3) — Third place in the Narrows Bridge Division behind Gig Harbor and South Kitsap.

Mountain View (6-3) — Second in Greater St. Helen’s behind Evergreen.

Battle Ground (6-3) — Third in Greater St. Helen’s.

Lake Washington (5-4) — Won three-team mini-playoff to get KingCo’s fourth seed into playoffs.

Snohomish (7-2) — Second in WesCo North behind Oak Harbor.

Richland (6-2) — Tied for third in Big Nine with Southridge.

Southridge (7-2) — Tied for third with Richland in rugged Big Nine behind Kamiakin and Pasco.

Mead (6-3) — Won Greater Spokane American Division.

Gonzaga Prep (5-4) — Second in Greater Spokane American behind Mead.

Lewis and Clark (7-1) — Second in GSL National behind Shadle Park.

Auburn (5-4) — Third in SPSL North behind Kentlake and Kentwood.

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