The final milepost of the 2012 high school football season – Gridiron Classic week – has arrived, and 12 teams will play for six state championships next weekend in Tacoma:
Here is my take on the six games:
* CLASS 4A
Defending champion Skyline was Skyline on Saturday – very impressive in dismantling a good Camas squad – while Bellarmine Prep survived a grueling grinder to advance to its first state title game.
Under offensive coordinator Brian Jensen, the Lions run a good, clean, efficient pro-style offense – a potential headache for a spread team such as the Spartans because of its ball-control nature. But Bellarmine Prep was far from mistake-free Saturday against Auburn, and that is a legitimate concern heading into this game.
The Lions have Drew Griffin and Garrett McKay as reliable weapons on the perimeter, but the biggest matchup is how will they defend Skyline in the spread, from No. 1 to No. 5 receiver? Max Browne, the star Skyline quarterback, will surely find out early and often.
Installed favorite: Skyline by 18.
* CLASS 3A
Chatted with Seattle Times reporter Jayson Jenks coming out of the Tacoma Dome on Saturday night about undefeated Eastside Catholic. He seems to think the Metro League champions match up better against four-time 3A champion Bellevue because of their offensive consistency.
Now matching up is a relative term, because this might be the best team for a single season we have seen in state history.
Enough said. Won’t try and break it down Xs and Os; just hoping for a semi-competitive game Friday night. For a half, anyway.
Installed favorite: Bellevue by 28.
* CLASS 2A
Again, a game on paper that seems like a no-brainer in Lynden’s favor. The Lions put forth perhaps the most impressive showing Friday in dominating Capital. Their passing game looks virtually unstoppable.
I will pose this – how well will they defend Tumwater’s Wing-T offense?
In 2010, the Thunderbirds went to Lynden and won in the early 2A round. And last season, the Lions were on their heels for three quarters before pulling out a win over Archbishop Murphy.
Installed favorite: Lynden by 12.
* CLASS 1A
Props to Montesano for recovering from its early-season swoon. The Bulldogs’ offensive line has come together, and their rushing attack has controlled games in the playoffs, including in an upset over No. 1 King’s.
But here comes Royal. Big, bad Royal. Strong Royal. Favored Royal.
Installed favorite: Royal by 10.
* CLASS 2B
Well, No. 1 Morton-White Pass got a bit of a break Saturday – it won’t have to face the team it lost to in the title game in 2011 in Waitsburg-Prescott, which was dumped by Lind-Ritzville-Sprague, 21-7, in the semifinals.
History says Eastern Washington schools seem to fare a bit better at this level – winning the title seven times since 2000. History won’t prevail this time around.
Installed favorite: Morton-White Pass by 7.
* CLASS 1B
Yes, defending champion Neah Bay has a star in quarterback Josiah Greene. But No. 1 Liberty Christian has standouts all across the board, and most of them are seniors. The Patriots have been building toward this season – and they have arrived as the No. 1 team.
Installed favorite: Liberty Christian by 13.