So far, so good for the top two Class 1A football teams in the Mid-Columbia area — and possibly the state.
Everything has gone according to plan this postseason for Royal and Connell, with both squads rolling through their first two state playoff matchups to arrive in the semifinal round Saturday.
The only things standing in the way of a state championship game between the SCAC East rivals — which has only happened once before, a 28-16 Royal victory in 2007 — are the Eagles’ matchup against La Center and the Knights’ date with Deer Park.
Here’s a look at those contests, both of which will played Saturday.
ROYAL AT DEER PARK: The Stags (10-1) hadn’t won a game in the state playoffs prior to this season, but they’re starting to look like a team of destiny with wins over Naches Valley (21-0) and SCAC West-champ Zillah (24-6) in the past two weeks.
Looking to defend their sixth state championship in school history, the Knights (11-0) have rarely lined up across from an opponent that they couldn’t push around this season.
Quarterback Kaden Jenks scored four touchdowns (three rushing and a 73-yard fumble return) in Royal’s 42-12 win over La Salle last week, but for the first time in seven games, he failed to throw a touchdown pass to Corbin Christensen.
The Knights will hope to get Christensen involved and the offense running at full speed to get the edge on a Deer Park team that has only scored more than 30 points once in its past eight games — a 42-0 victory over winless Medical Lake.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Gonzaga Prep.
CONNELL AT LA CENTER: The Eagles have had too many weapons for opposing teams — other than Royal — to stop, and their first two playoff games proved exactly that.
After running back Jaxs Whitby dashed for four touchdowns in Connell’s 48-28 win over Montesano in the opening round, quarterback Brian Hawkins put on a rushing display of his own against Meridian last week. The senior gunslinger rushed for 112 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries and hit tight end Steven Kroontje on both of his touchdown passes to lead the Eagles (11-1) to a 56-21 victory.
Led by 6-foot-5, 240-pound lineman Jack Hiller, La Center (11-1) is in the state semifinals for just the second time in school history. The Wildcats — who rushed 50 times for 255 yards last week against Mount Baker — will likely try to control the clock by running the ball against a pretty stout Connell defensive front.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at McKenzie Stadium in Vancouver.