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Originally published December 5, 2013 at 6:48 PM | Page modified December 5, 2013 at 6:59 PM

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Gridiron Classic at-a-glance: previewing every state championship football game

Sandy Ringer and Josh Liebeskind provide a breakdown of every state final this weekend, from 1B to 4A.


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Class 4A

Chiawana Riverhawks

Coach: Steve Graff, fifth year at Chiawana, 37-15.

Season Snapshot

The fifth-ranked Riverhawks (12-1) haven’t lost to an in-state opponent, losing to Lake City, Idaho, 33-26, in week seven. They dominated Federal Way in the semifinals, 40-7.

Scouting report

Chiawana operates out of a spread offense, but isn’t as up-tempo as many no-huddle teams. They have a good run/pass mix and can score in bunches, but do not want to get into a shootout with Camas.

Two to watch

QB Joey Zamora (6-2, 210, Sr.) has completed 147 of 252 passes for 2,408 yards with 26 touchdowns, six interceptions.

RB Clifton Lozano (5-7, 180, Sr.) scored his 24th rushing TD against Federal Way and moved over the 2,000-yard mark.

Quick kick

School opened in 2009 without seniors and the team went just 1-8, but Chiawana has been in at least the preliminary playoffs every year since.

Camas Papermakers

Coach: Jon Eagle, sixth year, 60-11,

Season Snapshot

After losing to eventual-champion Skyline in last year’s semifinals, top-ranked Camas (13-0) has cruised most of the way here. Closest game was in quarterfinals with Eastlake (47-28).

Scouting report

Papermakers are precision-like with their fast-paced, pistol offense. They can hit you with a big play, or put together a 10-play drive.

Two to watch

QB Reilly Hennessey (6-3, 195, Sr.), who has committed to Eastern, has hit on nearly 65 percent of his passes (168 of 260) for 3,205 yards and 36 TDs.

RB Nate Beasley (5-11, 180, Sr.) gives Camas a solid ground game (162 carries, 1,430 yards, 26 TDs).

Quick kick

This is the school’s first trip to the final after back-to-back semifinal losses (2011 was in 3A to O’Dea).

Class 3A

Bellevue Wolverines

Coach: Butch Goncharoff, 14th year, 170-12

Season Snapshot

The Wolverines(13-0) have yet to be tested this season and continually rest their starters before halftime.

Scouting report

Bellevue has multiple players that can step in and be factors in its wing-T offense. Its defense allowed more than seven points just four times.

Two to watch

LB Mustafa Branch (6-0, 211, Jr.), a starter on defense, has rushed for 153 yards and five touchdowns on 15 carries the last two games.

S Budda Baker (5-8, 177, Sr.) is a dynamic game-changer when the ball is in his hands and can contribute on offense, defense and special teams.

Quick kick

Bellevue broke Lake Washington’s (1956-61) state record 51-game unbeaten streak earlier this season and sit at 53 consecutive victories.

Eastside Catholic Crusaders

Coach: Jeremy Thielbahr, third year, 31-6

Season Snapshot

Eastside Catholic (11-2) avenged its lone 3A loss this season with a 28-14 win over O’Dea in the state semifinals. Its other loss came against 4A Eastlake, 27-21, in September.

Scouting report

Brandon Wellington has ably stepped in as running back since Henry Jarvis went down with an injury. The Crusaders have a tough defensive front and tackle well.

Two to watch

QB Harley Kirsch (6-3, 205, Soph.) has the poise of a veteran signal caller, as well as the statistics. Kirsch has thrown for 3,269 yards and 34 touchdowns already this year.

DL Elisha Pa’aga (5-10, 255, Sr.) has seven sacks, 10.5 tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles this year.

Quick kick

Eastside Catholic hasn’t won by more than 14 points the last three games, but its defense has come up big with six interceptions during that span.

Class 2A

Lynden Lions

Coach: Curt Kramme, 23rd year, 218-53.

Season Snapshot

Top-ranked Lions (13-0) didn’t blink after losing starting QB Lucas Petersen to a broken wrist in the sixth game of the season (he’s back now playing safety), although they’ve leaned more on their defense.

Scouting report

New faces, same results. Two-time defending champs returned only one starter on offense and two on defense.

Two to watch

QB Sterling Somers (6-4, 195, So.) has filled in admirably for Petersen, completing 75 of 145 passes for 1,119 yards with 16 touchdowns.

• RB Trent Postma (6-0, 200, Jr.) leads the team with 16 rushing TDs, averaging 7.7 yards on 173 carries (1,324 yards). He is one of the two returning defensive starters.

Quick kick

Lions are hoping to become the first team to win three straight 2A titles.

Tumwater Thunderbirds

Coach: Sid Otton, 40th season, 322-103.

Season Snapshot

If the No. 2 T-birds needed a wake-up call after six straight blowout wins, they got it in the semifinals against Prosser, holding on for a 45-40 victory. They’d had only two other games closer than 16 points.

Scouting report

With their wing-T offense, Thunderbirds put a lot of pressure on defenses. They can move the ball through the air, but rely more on their running game and they have a kicker – Elijah Hill – who can add points, too (8 of 11 on FGs).

Two to watch

RB Christian Cummings (5-10, 178, Sr.) was a workhorse this season with 177 carries for 1,700 yards and 30 total TDs.

QB Jayden Croft (6-1, 190, Sr.) is Otton’s grandson and has completed 77 of 142 passes for 1,368 yards with 11 TDs.

Quick kick

T-Birds were 5-0 in championship games until last year’s 41-7 loss to Lynden.

Class 1A

Mount Baker Mountaineers

Coach: Ron Lepper,18th Season, 128-61

Season Snapshot

It took overtime and Alex Tyska’s 28-yard field goal, but the No. 4 Mountaineers (11-1) knocked off top-ranked Cascade Christian to get here, 31-28.

Scouting report

The wing-T offense has been productive as Mount Baker has scored 40 or more points in all but three games. They rely on three strong backs.

Two to watch

RB Izaiha Schwinden (5-9, 161, Sr.) is one of two 1,000-yard rushers (Liam Short is the other) with 1,261 yards on 153 carries and 22 TDs, all team highs.

QB Andrew Zender (6-1, 183, Sr.) can hurt defense with his arm (67 of 122 passes for 1,034 yards, 15 TDs, 3 INTS) and his legs (112 carries, 485 yards, 11 TDs).

Quick kick

After losing in the semifinals to eventual-champion Montesano last season, the Mountaineers are in the championship game for the first time.

Freeman Scotties

Coach: Jim Wood, ninth year, 65-29.

Season Snapshot

Three turnovers turned into a 20-0 deficit against Cashmere in the semis, but the third-ranked Scotties (13-0) responded on both sides of the football for a 28-20 victory.

Scouting report

With its pistol offense, Freeman likes to establish the running game and has a pair of running backs with more than 1,300 yards and 20 TDs apiece.

Two to watch

•RB Max Laib (5-10, 175, Sr.) has more yards (1,389 on 216 carries, 21 TDs), but Marcus Goldbach (5-11, 195, Jr.) gets the edge in TDs with 23 (1,326 yards on 174 totes).

•QB Preston Hoppman (6-1, 168, Jr.) has completed 88 of 170 tries for 1,407 yards, 19 TDs, nine INTs.

Quick kick

Scotties are in the title game for the second time and seeking their first title. They lost the 2004 final to Royal, 29-7.

Class 2B

Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos

Coach: Greg Whitmore, ninth season, 75-22.

Season Snapshot

Defending champs marched back to the finale in impressive fashion with only one game closer than two touchdowns (27-13 over Reardan). Second-ranked Broncos (12-0) have outscored opponents 536-126, including their past three by a 140-27 count, and have 25 consecutive wins.

Morton-White Pass Timberwolves

Coach: Aaron Poquette, third season, 35-3.

Season Snapshot

Timberwolves (12-0) allowed just 13 points in their first seven games and hadn’t had a close game until the quarterfinals. They beat La Conner 26-21 in that one, and pulled away from Raymond in the semifinals.

Class 1B

Neah Bay Red Devils

Coach: Tony McCaulley, sixth season, 64-11.

Season Snapshot

Neah Bay (11-0) is ranked No. 1 for a reason, steamrolling opponents to return to the championship game for a third straight year The 46-14 semifinal win over Lummi was the only game under a 40-point spread. The Red Devils are led by do-it-all quarterback Josiah Greene, who has over 1,000 yards rushing and passing.

Touchet Indians

Coach: Gary Dorman, fifth year, 46-13.

Season Snapshot

Third-ranked Indians (12-1) have won nine straight since a 26-8 loss to Liberty Christian, including a 62-36 semifinal win over Rosalia after trailing 30-6 at halftime (five first-half turnovers). They have five players who have rushed for nearly 600 yards or more.

Capsules by Sandy Ringer and Josh Liebeskind



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