State championship football previews

November 29, 2012 

Royal Knights vs. Montesano Bulldogs

Class 1A state title game

When, where: 10 a.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome

Records: Royal 13-0, Montesano 11-2.

Coaches: Royal, Wiley Allred (15th season, 158-19); Montesano, Terry Jensen (11th season, 101-28).

Last playoff appearance: Royal, 2011 (quarterfinals). Montesano, 2011 (semifinals).

Playoff history: Royal, 37-17 in 23 appearances (best finish: state champions in 1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007). Montesano, 31-21 in 24 appearances (best finish: state champions in 1983, 1994)

Previous playoff meetings: 1994, state title game, Montesano 27-21.

Top players: Royal, RB Damien Delarosa, senior (170-1,233 rushing, 17 TDs); QB Alex Myrick, senior (135-205-4 for 2,474 passing, 32 TDs, 135-1,213 rushing, 20 TDs); WR Brady Dixon, senior (32-621 receiving, 6 TDs). Montesano, RB Tucker Ibabao, senior (149-1,032 rushing, 19 TDs); RB Eliot Mendenhall, senior (142-986 rushing, 12 TDs, 32-552 receiving, 5 TDs); QB Matthew Jensen, senior (127-208-4 for 1,995 passing and 20 TDs, 104-596 rushing, 7 TDs); WR Ben Ohashi, senior (46-652 receiving, 7 TDs); RB Shad Rogers, senior (37-559 receiving, 4 TDs).

Last week: Royal 31, River View 28. Montesano 28, Mount Baker 6

Notes: The last time these two teams met was in 1994 in the Kingdome. Montesano — with head coach Brent Whitaker — defeated Royal — and assistant coach Wiley Allred — 27-21. Whitaker now is an assistant coach for Royal, and the Bulldogs are making their first appearance in a state final since that game. ... The Knights had their toughest game of the season in the semifinals, rallying from a second-half deficit to get back to the state title game for the first time since 2007. ... This is the first time coach Jensen has led a team to the state title game. He is the quarterback’s dad. ... It has been a strange year for Montesano, which had the stands at its football stadium burn down early in the season. The Bulldogs were forced to play their home games in Aberdeen, before returning home with make-shift stands for the final game of the regular season.

Lind-Ritzville/Sprague Broncos vs. Morton/White Pass Timberwolves

Class 2B state title game

When, where: 4 p.m. today, Tacoma Dome

Records: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague 12-0, Morton/White Pass 12-0.

Coaches: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, Greg Whitmore. Morton/White Pass, Aaron Poquette.

Last playoff appearance: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, 2011 (quarterfinals). Morton/White Pass, 2011 (championship).

Playoff history: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, 31-22 in 22 appearances (Ritzville won state title in 1980, LRS won in 2004). Morton/White Pass is 12-11 in 12 combined appearances (Morton won state title in 1981).

Previous playoff meetings: Morton def. Ritzville 28-14, 1981 state title.

Top players: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, RB Connor O’Neill, junior; QB/DB Dylan Hartz, junior; RB/WR Cort Ruzicka, sophomore. Morton/White Pass, QB Rylon Kolb, junior (56-98-7 for 1,075 passing and 17 TDs, 68-221 rushing, 10 TDs); RB Brian Reynolds, junior (136-1,291 rushing, 22 TDs); RB Gianni Bertucci, junior (39-491 rushing, 9 TDs, 12-346 receiving, 6 TDs); TE Ben Powell, junior (19-344 receiving, 8 TDs).

Last week: Lind-Ritzville/Sprague 21, Waitsburg-Prescott 7. Morton/White Pass 12, La Conner 0.

Notes: LRS is back in the state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2004. ... The Broncos figured to be a year away because of the youth on the team, but they used a big start last week to hold off defending state champion Waitsburg-Prescott. ... Hartz had a fumble recovery, interception return for a touchdown and a passing touchdown, all in the span of 41⁄2 minutes in last week’s win. He is a difference maker on both sides of the ball. ... Morton/White Pass is back in the state title game, this time with a bit of seasoning compared with 2011. Last year’s team featured just nine seniors, and a slew of youngsters at the skill positions. In fact, all five players listed above for the T-Wolves are juniors. ... Morton won the state title in 1981, defeating Ritzville 28-14. With three more towns added to the mix since then, this game promises to be just as good.

Liberty Christian Patriots vs. Neah Bay Red Devils

Class 1B state title game

When, where: 4 p.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome

Records: Liberty Christian 13-0, Neah Bay 12-0.

Coaches: Liberty Christian, Mike Olson (6th season, 38-23). Neah Bay, Tony McCaulley.

Last playoff appearance: Liberty Christian, never. Neah Bay, 2011 (defeated Almira/Coulee-Hartline 36-28 to win state title).

Playoff history: Liberty Christian, 2-0 record in 1 appearance. Neah Bay, 14-12 in 14 appearances (won state title in 2011).

Previous playoff meetings: None.

Top players: Liberty Christian, QB Mike Olson, senior (92-128-1 for 2,053 passing and 39 TDs); LB Brandon Peterson, senior (131 tackles, 3 fumble recoveries, 5 INT); WR/DB Tyler Morris, senior (38-1,072 receiving, 18 TDs; 102 tackles, 10 INT). Neah Bay, QB Josiah Greene, junior; WR Joey Monje, senior; WR Leyton Doherty, senior; RB Cody Cummins, sophomore.

Last week: Liberty Christian 34, Cusick 32. Neah Bay 40, Lummi 30.

Notes: The Patriots faced their first challenge of the season in the semifinals, rallying for the victory. ... Coach Olson has been coaching for more than a decade at various stops in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, but will be making his first appearance in a state title game. ... The Patriots could have a tough time getting used to the heat in the Tacoma Dome. Their conditioning will be key. ... Neah Bay is in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, and are seeking a second straight state title. ... Greene rushed for 305 yards and three touchdowns in the semifinal victory, and threw for 86 yards and another score. As Greene goes, so do the Red Devils. He plays safety on defense and possesses game-breaking speed.

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