KENNEWICK — Chapter One played out like a struggle for life or death.
Chapter Two actually means the life or death of a season for the Kennewick Lions and Kamiakin Braves.
When the two city rivals meet today at 1 p.m. at Lampson Stadium, they know exactly what to expect.
"It's Kamiakin again," said Kennewick senior lineman Ivan Diaz. "How often do you get a chance to play the same team twice in a year? This one's for the playoffs. I can't wait."
"They're extremely physical," said Kamiakin's Joe Hunt, the CBBN 3A defensive player and lineman of the year. "They blitz hard, they play hard."
"I don't know if you can put a description on how much respect we have for Kamiakin," said Lions defensive coordinator Jason Slagle. "They've been the program to beat now that Chiawana and Pasco have (split). They're kind of the measuring stick.
"These kids know that Kamiakin is the champs until someone beats them."
Kamiakin won the first game 14-6 back in Week 4, a game that nearly filled Lampson's 6,800 seats.
The two big keys to that game were the Braves' pass rush, which didn't get to Lions QB Bryce Leavitt for a lot of sacks but had him scrambling for his life and throwing on the defense's clock, not his.
The other was Kamiakin's ability to run the ball late. Zach Umemoto ran for nearly half of his 134 yards on the Braves' final drive that put the game away.
"We need to be more conscious about stopping the run," Slagle said. "Zach ripped off a bunch of longer runs against us, even in the first three quarters. We can't allow that. But when it comes to fourth quarter -- winning time -- we need to be able to match them up front.
"They earned that victory."
Along with having Umemoto at full strength, the Braves also will have quarterback Jason Hutchison back in the lineup. The senior signal caller -- who has thrown for 1,930 yards, 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions -- missed last week's playoff win over Seattle Prep with a dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand, injured the previous week against Hanford.
"He looks really good," Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said of Hutchison's week of practice. "It doesn't look like he's skipped a beat.
"It's the quarterfinals. Everybody's banged up. Everybody's got little owies and booboos. You have to play through them."
Aside from deciding who will face Bellevue next week in the state semifinals, the game will go a long way toward bragging rights, perhaps for years to come. This is the first time the two teams have met in the state playoffs.
"As a Tri-City football fan, this is the big show in town," said Kennewick coach Bill Templeton. "One of the many reasons people want to coach in the Big Nine and Tri-Cities is to get a chance to play in a game like this."
The excitement has infected both teams, players and coaches alike.
"It should be rocking," Biglin said. "There's no other game in the Tri-Cities, so if you're a football fan, you'll be there."