* CLASS 1A FINALS
Montesano (11-2) vs. No. 2 Royal (13-0)
10 a.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome
Coaches: Terry Jensen is in his 11th season at Montesano (111-30 record). Wiley Allred is in his 14th season at Royal (158-19 record).
Road to Gridiron Classic: Montesano defeated Charles Wright Academy in the first round (31-21), King’s in the quarterfinals (17-7), and Mount Baker in the semifinals (28-6). Royal defeated Cascade-Leavenworth in the first round (70-14), Cle Elum-Roslyn in the quarterfinals (61-27), and River View in the semifinals (31-28).
About the Bulldogs: Are they the team for destiny? Overcoming two early defeats, and a home grandstands fire – Montesano has won its past 10 games to reach its first 1A title game since 1994? And who did the Bulldogs beat in that game? Royal – 27-21. And their coach back then was Brent Whitaker, who is now an assistant on the other side. The Bulldogs have enough weapons to spread Royal out with QB Matthew Jensen (127-207, 1,995 yards, 20 TD; 104 carries, 596 yards, seven TDs) and RBs Tucker Ibabao (128 carries, 958 yards, 17 TDs) and Elliot Mendenhall (135 carries, 951 yards, 12 TDs).
About the Knights: It is not like Royal has been pouting since that 1994 title-game loss in the Kingdome. The school has won five 1A titles (1996, 2000, 2004-05, 2007) since then – and is the favorite to grab a sixth championship. The Knights’ formula is simple – get big plays from QB Alex Myrick (135-205, 2,480 yards, 32 TDs, four INT; 1,203 rushing yards, 20 TDs), sprinkle in RB Damien De La Rosa (169 carries, 1,234 yards, 17 TDs) and really send defensive pressure up the field to force mistakes by opposing backfields.
TNT pick: Royal, 28-23.
“Score Czar”/Computer pick: Royal, 31-18.