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FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Jefferson at Skyline
What: Thomas Jefferson (5-4) at Skyline (8-1)
When: 7:30 p.m., Friday
Where: Skyline High School
What's at stake: A berth into the first round of the 16-team Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The winner of the TJ/Skyline game will host the winner of a game between Federal Way and Edmonds-Woodway on Nov. 15 or 16.
Why Skyline will win: The second-ranked Spartans definitely have a ton more football tradition than TJ. Since the 2000 season, Skyline has won a grand total of seven state championships and finished second two more times. In comparison, TJ has never advanced into the 16-team state tournament in the school's history.
The Spartans' only loss came against the 11th-ranked team in the nation, Bellevue, in the opening game of the season. Since then, Skyline has dominated all eight of their contests, outscoring its opponents, 282-102.
Skyline is led by quarterback Kilton Anderson, who leads the Spartans in rushing and passing. Anderson has 1,317 yards passing and eight touchdowns and 453 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
But the Spartans are a little different than in years' past. This year's edition is built on defense and not around quarterbacks like Jake Heaps and Max Browne.
Senior Josh Wright leads the group. The 205-pound senior has an eye-popping 18 sacks in Skyline's nine games. He also leads the team with 67 total tackles. Junior Cameron Saffle, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound lineman, has 10 sacks.
Why Jefferson will win: Despite making only two postseason appearances in the school's history, they have both come in the last three years. So, this edition of the Raiders shouldn't be overwhelmed by playing in a loser-out game. There were several who played on that 2011 TJ team.
But, they will have to go on the road and defeat Skyline, which has been the top 4A football program in the state for the last decade. This will be a tall order, especially for a team that lost four games during the regular season, including a 15-14 loss to Beamer in a non-league contest.
But, if they are to pull the upset, Jefferson will need a huge day from its defense, which has been a pretty solid group all season long. Jefferson gave up under 10 points in four of its nine games and pitched two shutouts.
Offensively, the Raiders count on senior quarterback Niko DelaCruz to provide a lot of the leadership. But DelaCruz has been hobbled by nagging injuries during the end of the season.
Junior Zach Grayson is TJ's leading rusher and has two separate games of over 200 yards and Tyrell Williams has been the Raiders' best play-maker.