The News Tribune picks three South Sound football games every week to preview:
* CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND
Rogers (6-4) at No. 2 Federal Way (10-0)
7 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, Federal Way
About the Rams: Big-play containment will be the key in this game. Simply, if Rogers gives up five scores of 25 or more yards like it did in a 41-14 season-opening loss to the Eagles, the result will likely be the same. The Rams are much better now than in August, and recent signs – giving up 108 yards on 41 rushes to Monroe last week – are encouraging.
About the Eagles: Federal Way might have been ripe for an upset last week. The Eagles committed six turnovers. They were down two backfield starters. But RB Zeek McNeal (83 carries, 1,175 yards, 14 TDs) really pulled his team through with a career-high 291-yard rushing effort against Issaquah. RB Chico McClatcher (stomach) and Rod Jones Jr. are expected back.
“Score Czar” computer pick: Federal Way, 35-6.
* CLASS 3A FIRST ROUND
Nathan Hale (8-2) at No. 8 Peninsula (8-2)
7 p.m. Friday at Roy Anderson Field, Purdy
About the Raiders: It’s not how big you are, but how well you work together. Not many 200-pounders take the field for Nathan Hale, but the team wins games – and the Metro League Sound Division title this season. RB Aaron Mandell (four special-team returns for TDs, five blocked punts) is the team’s don’t-miss standout in all three phases.
About the Seahawks: Peninsula has faced a pair of Wing-T programs this season – at Mountain View during the regular season, and last week in a 36-12 state play-in victory over Oak Harbor. But the Raiders run a more wide-open, big-play version of it. RB Jimmy Price (118 carries, 891 yards, 12 TDs) is hitting his stride in the postseason.
“Score Czar” computer pick: Peninsula, 31-8.
* CLASS 2A FIRST ROUND
Steilacoom (6-4) at No. 4 Tumwater (9-1)
7 p.m. Friday at Tumwater Stadium
About the Sentinels: At the season’s midway point, the Sentinels were lost in their complex playbook. So, coach Brian Koch went back to more basic Wing-T principles, and started calling 10-15 plays at the most. Since then, RBs Brian Thomas (145 carries, 1,307 yards, 18 TDs) and Michael Mack (819 yards, nine TDs) have been nearly unstoppable.
About the Thunderbirds: Say what you want about coach Sid Otton’s track record, or Tumwater’s vaunted Wing-T offense. What is really driving the bus this season is special-teams play. With RB/WR Andrew Brown (16 returns, six TDs) in tow, the Thunderbirds regularly starts drives near midfield. So why ever kick it near the speedster?
“Score Czar” computer pick: Tumwater, 29-12.