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State 2B Football Quarterfinal Preview: Familiar Foes and Everyone Knows

By Matt Baide / mbaide@chronline.com

It was not the most interesting weekend in the first weekend of the State 2B football tournament. Among our local teams, there were no games that were decided by less than double digits and the closest game was 20 points in a 32-12 victory by Toledo against Colfax. Adna, Napavine and Onalaska all scored at least 50 points.

Will the quarterfinals produce different results? At this stage of the state playoffs, you have to assume every team is good. How good? They’ll get on the football field on Saturday and find out.

Here’s a look at each local football game.

No. 1 Onalaska vs. No. 9 Tri-Cities Prep, Saturday, 1 p.m., Centralia

The Loggers are rolling into the state quarterfinals and will run into another team from the opposite side of the Cascade Mountains in the Tri-Cities Prep Jaguars.

TCP is the No. 9 seed and showed the seeding committee that maybe they should have been higher after defeating Asotin 37-0 in the opening round of the state playoffs.

The Jaguars are led by junior quarterback Dante Maiuri as part of an air raid attack. He has 3,211 yards passing and 34 touchdowns this season and the leading receiver is Landon Amato with 73 catches for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns.

“Number 12, he’s a good quarterback. He kind of seems to be their guy,” Onalaska coach Mazen Saade said. “He has good receivers and two halfbacks, number 34 (Noah Elliott), number 44 (Kaden Harrison), they run the ball for them. They have a pretty good offensive line, defensive line.”

The Onalaska secondary expects to be tested this week.

“I think that every week is a test for our secondary. They question our secondary and see if they can test it. That’s a lot of people’s game plan against us,” Saade said. “ I think all the guys in the secondary are excited for the challenge. The defense is excited for the challenge. The guy (Maiuri) is good, one of the best. I just hope our kids can rise to the challenge defensively.”

The Loggers are coming off of a 60-7 win against Brewster in the opening round, hitting the 40 point mark in the first quarter. Onalaska fullback Ashton Haight did a lot of the heavy lifting but other players stepped up in the rushing attack, including Lucas Kreger, Marshall Haight and Gunnar Talley.

Saade knows it will be a challenge against a defense that shutout Asotin last weekend.

“Their defense is sound and well coached. Their coach, (Dan) Whitsett does a heck of a job with his defense,” Saade said. “Holding Astotin to not many yards, that’s impressive.”

Last season, the Loggers lost to Adna in the state quarterfinals, 34-12. Onalaska is ready to make sure their season continues past Saturday.

“I don’t know what motivates each person. We talked about it early on in the season, to get back there and farther,” Saade said. “We put that in our goal sheet, what motivates us. Our motivation is to play football and succeed, that’s what these kids want to do and this staff.”

Ultimately, Saade said he thinks this game will come down to two fundamentals for the Loggers: blocking and tackling.

“Offensively, can we move the ball? Defensively, can we take away what they want to do? It should be fun, they’re a good program with a rich history of football,” Saade said. “They’re a big deal on the east side and do a great job of promoting themselves. Chewelah and Lake Roosevelt, those three are the real deal over there. They’re good teams, real good teams.”

No. 2 Napavine vs. No. 10 Toledo, Saturday, 4 p.m., Centralia

It will be a meeting of familiar foes at 4 p.m. on Saturday as the Tigers and Indians meet once again in the State 2B football tournament.

These two teams have history, both in the playoffs and this season. Toledo traveled to Napavine in Week 3 and hopped back on the bus with a 41-7 loss.

“I think that we look at as much film as we can on Napavine. We’re definitely going back to that game and trying to figure out exactly what they’re doing,” Toledo coach Mike Christensen said. “We’ve played a lot over the last few years. We’ve got to figure out how they’re stopping us and figure out how to do something about it.”

The last time Napavine and Toledo ran into each other in the playoffs was in 2017 in a 35-7 Napavine victory. The two teams met in 2016 in the semifinals in a wet game in Centralia, a 31-28 win for Napavine en route to a state title for the Tigers.

With that playoff history, the two teams have built up a rivalry throughout the years.

“I don’t know if there’s a different way to describe it. Since 2014, we’ve been playing Toledo on a consistent basis in the playoffs. There’s a mutual respect between the programs, a friendly rivalry,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “Nobody is destroying school property over it. Our kids get along, staff get along. Both programs have been fortunate to be consistent in the last couple years and because of that, we face each other in addition to non-league games.”

Napavine opened up the first round with a 51-14 win against Mabton. Sophomore Lucas Dahl stepped up and had a big game with three carries for 66 yards and a touchdown to go with five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Mario Lara also played well and had a tackle for a safety for the Tigers.

“One of the recipes for our success is to play as many guys as possible. When you’re able to do that over the course of a season, heading into Week 12, guys have had a lot of opportunities,” Fay said. “Lucas (Dahl) is a guy all along we thought would be helpful and he did what we think he’s capable of doing.”

Toledo traveled across the state last week to take on Colfax and after a slow start in the first half, scored 26 points in the second half to pull away from the Bulldogs. Duke Schaplow was key in the win, running for two scores and throwing for another touchdown. Miguel Soto also had a big game, catching a touchdown pass from Schaplow and intercepting a pass and returning it 47 yards for a score.

“The guys are confident going in. All season long, we’ve talked about us. We stop ourselves or we can beat a lot of teams,” Christensen said. “We were focused on us and how we’re executing. Going over there beating them was awesome, we knew we had a good shot if we executed everything and we did that. If we execute again Saturday, we give ourselves a chance to win.”

Each team was able to find their rhythm on offense last week. Fay believes that his team needs to slow down Schaplow if the Tigers want to leave Centralia with a win.

“It starts with Schaplow back there. He’s a dynamic athlete and reverses field well,” Fay said. “For us, where it starts is what can we do with him to keep him from hurting us. We’ve got a couple different wrinkles we’ll throw at them but Schaplow is the guy we’ve got to take care of.”

For Toledo, Christensen hopes to take away as many weapons from the Tigers as possible in order to key in on stopping particular skill players.

“I think they’re tough. Their offense has a lot of weapons and different ways they can hurt you. You have to pick your poison and give them different looks defensively and not let them key in on any one way we’re trying to stop them,” Christensen said. “You might be able to slow them down a little bit but you’re not stopping that offense, not on a turf field without a mud bowl. Those backs and quarterback are so athletic, they can take a short gain and turn it into a home run pretty easily.”

Last season, it was an all District IV semifinal in football and with three of the top four teams and five of the eight remaining teams from Southwest Washington football divisions, the strength of the conference as a whole will be put on display on Saturday.

“We’ve seen the best that the state has to offer everywhere else and we played well against them (Colfax),” Christensen said. “We come to District IV and get beat up by three teams in the league. It speaks to the strength of District IV. The semifinals last year were all from our district and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the same thing this year.”

For Toledo, Christensen believes that if the Indians can move the ball on the ground and hit their keys and reads on defense, they’ll have a good shot at earning another upset victory.

Napavine believes that if they can play consistent for 48 minutes, they’ll be back in the state semifinals next Saturday.

“We’ve talked a lot about being consistent for 48 minutes,” Fay said. “We’ve struggled to do that this season. The further you get in the playoffs, if you can’t get consistent, you’re going to lose. We need to play a solid 48 minutes of football.”

No. 4 Chewelah vs. No. 5 Adna, Saturday, 1 p.m., Spokane

The Pirates will travel across the state on Friday in order to take on the Chewelah Cougars on Saturday in Spokane.

Adna looked strong in a 51-7 win against Davenport last Saturday in the first round. The Gorillas are in the 2B Northeast League’s north division along with Chewelah, a team the Cougars defeated 35-15 in Week 9 to claim the division crown.

Senior quarterback Jake Jeanneret leads the Cougar offense, throwing for 2,135 yards and 21 touchdowns. Kaden Krouse leads the ground attack with 485 yards and five touchdowns and Nick Franks leads the receivers with 668 yards and six touchdowns on 42 catches.

“They’re a pretty solid football team. Just like last year, Jeanneret at quarterback, Krouse at running back. (Jake) George is a solid kid,” Adna coach K.C. Johnson said. “They have some decent size linemen, not overly huge like we’ve been playing. They’re well coached with a spread offense, similar to what we saw last year with Napavine.”

It is a 355 mile trip from Adna High School to the field at Gonzaga Prep High School in Spokane. The Pirates were able to sleep in their own beds last weekend and Johnson believes his team will be able to deal with the long bus ride.

“I don’t think they’ve ever played there either. We’re a mature group, most of our starters anyway have been in the playoffs, been there done that. They’ve traveled to camps, state basketball, done this kind of stuff,” Johnson said. “It will come down to how well we handle this trip. It’s a business trip with one reason: to get a win. I’m confident that we’ll handle it, they’re a good group of boys.”

Cole Fay had four touchdowns for the Pirates, including two on the ground, one through the air and a punt return score. Braden Thomas also ran in two scores and the Cougars will try to stop the two biggest weapons for Adna.

“I like our offense, I like what we can do. We’re peaking at the right time and getting better at running our different formations,” Johnson said. “Our goal is to get Cole and Braden the football and get our perimeter athletes involved in the game. Zach Berg, Zander Blankenship, Ryan Young, they can all catch and do things. We’re going to have to do that but I like what we can do offensively right now.”

Adna was able to reach the semifinals last season and came up short against Napavine in that game and the Pirates hope to make it back to the semifinals and capitalize on their opportunity this season. Johnson knows the team is ready with all the work and preparation the Pirates have put in before and during the season.

“The time in the weight room will pay off, that’s why we’re good every year. They lift hard and know what they need to do be a playoff contender,” Johnson said. “There are 20 or so guys, they’re there every morning at 7 a.m. powerlifting. They revert back to why we show up every morning.”

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