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FOOTBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Federal Way at Skyline
What: Federal Way (8-2) vs. Skyline (9-1)
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Skyline High School
What's at stake: A berth into the quarterfinals (Final 8) of the Class 4A State Football Playoffs. The winner of the Federal Way/Skyline game will host the winner of a game between Skyview and Richland on either Nov. 22 or 23.
Why Skyline will win: No offense to the Thomas Jefferson Raiders, but the Spartans were never tested in their opening round playoff game last Friday. Skyline jumped out to a 43-0 lead in the first half and cruised on their home field. Things shouldn't be so easy Friday night against the talented Eagles, who feature a pair of Division I recruits in quarterback/defensive back Keenan Curran and running back Chico McClatcher.
The Skyline program definitely has way more "tradition" than their counterparts from Federal Way. Since the 2000 season, Skyline has won a grand total of seven state championships and finished second two more times. In comparison, the Eagles haven't advanced into the semifinals of 16-team state tournament since 1976. The program has also never won a state title.
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, 325-115.
The Skyline offense is led by quarterback Kilton Anderson, who leads the Spartans in rushing and passing. Anderson has 1,800 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, including four during the win over TJ last week, and over 500 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns.
"Their quarterback is really good," said Federal Way head coach John Meagher. "He delivers the ball well and reminds me of the (Brendon) Illies kid from Puyallup."
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.
"They have been kind of undersold on the defensive side," Meagher said. "They play pretty good defense."
Why Federal Way will win: The Eagles played their most complete game of the season during their playoff-opening win over Edmonds-Woodway last week. During the Eagles' two losses during the SPSL South season to Graham-Kapowsin and Curtis, the team made several big-time mistakes in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams.
"It was night and day (against Edmonds-Woodway) from the games we lost," Meagher said. "We stayed patient and stayed with the things that make us a good team."
Obviously, the Eagles will be leaning heavily on Curran and McClatcher, who might be the most dynamic duo in the state this season. Both are approaching 2,000 of total offense apiece and both have rushed for over 1,100 yards in 10 games.
McClatcher, a junior, has rushed for 1,203 yards and has scored a grand total of 27 touchdowns this season. He also has 622 yards receiving and also has touchdowns on punt, kickoff and interception returns and also threw a touchdown pass.
McClatcher already has offers from college programs like Washington, Washington State, Utah, UCLA, Boise State and Arizona State.
Curran, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete, has rushed for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns from the quarterback position and also has 646 yards passing with six TDs. On the defensive side of the ball, Curran led the SPSL with five interceptions.
Curran already has scholarship offers from Air Force, Army, Idaho, San Jose State, Wyoming and Yale.
The Eagles will obviously need to score points to beat the powerhouse Spartans. In their eight wins, Federal Way has averaged 47 points a game. But, in their two losses to Graham-Kapowsin and Curtis, the Eagles have scored only 14 points a game.
The Eagles' defense was helped last week against Edmonds-Woodway by the return of talented linebacker Jared Pulu, who hadn't started a game since Federal Way's season opener.
"It's huge to have him back," Meagher said. "It gave us a big emotional lift."
Federal Way's 6-foot-3, 295-pound Jay-Tee Tiuli will also need to get pressure on Anderson, as well as clog up the middle of the line. Tiuli finished the SPSL regular season with four sacks.
CLASS 4A State Playoffs
Skyview @ Richland
Federal Way @ Skyline
Moses Lake @ Chiawana
Gig Harbor @ Wenatchee
Bothell @ Graham-Kapowsin
Bellarmine Prep @ Newport
Cascade @ Camas
Union @ Eastlake