Union, Skyview, Mountain View, and Hockinson ready to play
It is Week 11.
Or better known as the first round of the state football playoffs.
No matter what it is called, if a team is still playing in Week 11 of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association football season, that team is among the 16 finalists in its classification.
There are four teams from Clark County that are still in season. Two are ranked No. 1. One has earned a No. 3 seed. And another has a shot to stun the rest of the state as a 15-seed.
Here are what the coaches are saying heading into their match-ups.
No. 1 Union (10-0) vs. No. 16 Skyline (6-4)
6 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium
Congratulations to the Union Titans for being the first No. 1 seed in Class 4A history. Yes, the first year of a seeding system gives the nod to Union.
Oh they get to take on a 16-seed that just happens to be the most dominant 4A program in the since the turn of the century.
Skyline has a total of seven state titles since 2000, including six as a 4A program. In one of those seasons, the Spartans lost three regular-season games.
All of that is a great thing for Union coach Rory Rosenbach. No way his team is looking past that program, with that coaching staff.
“Regular-season success for them doesn’t matter. They know how to turn it on come postseason, come bracket time,” Rosenbach said.
“The legend or history or mystique of Skyline, it is easy to get the kids focused. It grabs your attention pretty quick,” Rosenbach said. “They still got some guys. Are they as talented as they’ve been? No. But they probably have the best coaching staff in the state of Washington.”
Skyline has the history. Union has the present, at least when considering record, ranking, and seeding. The Titans got to state at 10-0 and ranked No. 1 by The Associated Press. Then the seeding committee, in its first year, gave the Titans the top seed. That means Union will be the home team through the semifinals, should the Titans keep winning.
“It’s a pretty cool deal. We’re honored they thought we were the No. 1,” Rosenbach said. “But we’ve seen film on all of the top five or six teams, and there are some pretty good teams. The fact that they thought we were No. 1 is good, but now we have to go out and prove it.
“The seeding committee never won any games. We have to go out and prove it. Excited to go out and do that.”
No. 15 Skyview (6-4) vs. No. 2 Woodinville (9-1)
4 p.m. Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell
“We’re back where we’re supposed to be,” Skyview coach Steve Kizer said of his Storm.
“When we didn’t get to play in November last year, it was rough. Great to be back.”
This year, not only did the Storm get to the playoffs, they won the Week 10 matchup to earn another trip to state. This will be the 10th appearance in the round of 16.
As a 15-seed going up against No. 2, not many expect Skyview to reach the elite eight.
“There’s like 70 people who think we have a chance,” Kizer said. “The guys in the locker room.”
Players, coaches, and managers. Those are the ones who matter.
Woodinville, Kizer said, is one of the best teams he has seen on video this season. He is particularly impressed with Woodinville’s offensive line.
Kizer acknowledged he did not know if this team could get here, after the way the season started.
“We just continued to get better every week,” Kizer said, giving a shout-out to the assistant coaches working with a lot of new faces in starting roles this season.
“We are so young and inexperienced, to go to the Sweet 16 is pretty good,” Kizer said. “Hopefully we can keep on going, but we’re way ahead of schedule.”
Regardless of the outcome Saturday, by making it this far the Storm got at least two more weeks together.
“That’s like spring ball. That’s a big deal,” he said, referring to extra practice. “I think we’re a good stock to buy right now. We’re cheap, but we’re going to be rising the next couple of years.”
No. 3 Mountain View (9-1) vs. No. 14 Squalicum (8-2)
6 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium
Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson does not see the 14 near Squalicum’s name. He just sees a good football team with a good record, a team that his squad must be prepared to face.
Still, he is confident because this team of his in particular is so good at preparing.
“It is a big thing for the school and the community,” Mathieson said, referring to his team earning a No. 3 seed from the committee. “But what I love about this team, the coach-speak is real: They are very much, let’s go back to work. They are enjoying practice. They enjoy film study. They come to us. All you want as a coach is to go into a game and feel like you’re prepared. What I like about this team, and I felt strongly all year, this team has gone into every game well prepared.”
Going 9-1, with the only loss coming against the top-ranked 4A team and by only three points, and being seeded No. 3, those are big deals to the Thunder. But they are not talked about … at least not now.
“Those are the things that banquets are for,” Mathieson said.
No one wants to schedule that banquet any time soon. The Thunder want a long playoff run.
That would be new, too. Mountain View has lost in the opening round at state the past two seasons.
That could feel like some pressure, but really, there is not too much pressure for this team.
“You get to this point in a season, physically there is not a lot that separates teams. What it comes down to is that feeling that we’re extra prepared for this, and that’s all it takes sometimes,” Mathieson said. “How does it feel to be in this week? It feels like last week. We just keep doing our stuff.”
First round. Quarterfinals. Semifinals. Maybe the finals. All of that would be wonderful for the Thunder. But it is more than just wins and trophies.
“You’re guaranteed nine,” Mathieson said, referring to the number of games in a season.
Teams that make the playoffs get more.
“Everything we do now is the goal of can we extend ourselves one week just so we can be around each other some more,” the coach said. “Just enjoy it. Enjoy being together. Enjoy team dinners. Enjoy practice.”
The Thunder would love a few more weeks of preparation together.
No. 1 Hockinson (9-0) vs. No. 16 Washington (6-4)
7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium
The Hawks picked up right where they left off after last season’s state championship run and have reeled off nine wins in a row this season. That makes 23 in a row total.
They looked unstoppable last year. They look unstoppable this year, too.
A year ago through Week 10, the Hawks averaged 45.8 points per game and won by an average of 36 points. This season, through Week 10, the team is averaging 50 points per game with the same 36-point margin of victory.
Yep. The Hawks are still good.
Last week, though, they got a wake-up call of sorts. W.F. West led 14-0 in the first quarter. No problem. The Hawks scored the next 52 points.
“For whatever reason, this football team starts slow,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “For a coach, it drives me nuts.”
But then the Hawks figure it out and do what they do.
“When our kids play, it’s look out,” Steele said.
So that is the emphasis this week for the Hawks. It is state playoff time. Which means no time to just feel things out in the first quarter. It’s go time.
“When I see Washington on film, they’re scary,” Steele said. “These guys have some dudes. They are huge up front.”
Washington has had trouble all season sustaining drives. A mistake here or there can take away any momentum.
“Just hope they can’t put it together for one night,” Steele said. “Hoping we don’t start slow and let them get a touchdown or two and give them life.”
The next four weeks will determine the 2018 state champion. No matter what happens, the Hawks (like Union in Class 4A) get to say they were the first No. 1 seed under this format.
“It’s where we wanted to be, it’s where we worked hard to be, and we played to get it,” Steele said. “If we’re the No. 1 seed, we’re sitting pretty good. Players are excited about it, the community is excited about it, and the coaches are excited about it. Now we have to take advantage of that No. 1 ranking.”