* CLASS 4A SEMIFINALS
Auburn (10-2) vs. No. 3 Bellarmine Prep (11-1)
7 p.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome
Coaches: Gordon Elliott is in his 11th season at Auburn (88-36 record). Tom Larsen is in his 10th season at Bellarmine Prep (71-36 record).
Road to the semifinals: Auburn defeated Eastmont in the first round (20-7), and Mead in the quarterfinals (21-7). Bellarmine Prep defeated Bothell in the first round (35-30), and Gonzaga Prep in the quarterfinals (32-29).
About the Trojans: Both of these coaches have been around the block, and established a very ball-control type of offense. In two state playoff games, Auburn has surrendered just 13 points – and has a bunch of seniors on defense leading the way with DL Kevin Shelton and DB Harold Lee. Coach Gordon Elliott said his team needs to continue to play “schematically perfect” defense. And the Trojans are getting the type of balance in their double-wing, jet-sweep rushing attack – with RBs Lee (52 carries, 586 yards, eight TDs) and Darnell Hagans (75 carries, 552 yards, five TDs) on the outside, and QB Brier Atkinson (99 carries, 496 yards, 10 TDs) on the inside.
About the Lions: It will be strength-versus-strength when Auburn’s rushing offense takes on Bellarmine Prep’s run defense, which has been good all season with LBs Jacob Salazar, Brandon Thompson, Michael Ota and Nick Dionas, and even S Calvin Chandler behind him. On offense, RB Lou Millie (236 carries, 1,369 yards, 13 TDs) was limited midseason so he could be fresh for the playoffs. And he has turned it on with 587 yards and four TDs in three postseason games. Of course, if the Lions need a big play, they have QB Sefo Liufau (154-226, 2,020 yards, 19 TDs) – the Narrows 4A MVP and News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year – to turn to.
TNT pick: Bellarmine Prep, 28-20.
“Score Czar”/Computer pick: Bellarmine Prep, 28-14.