Minus Lynden, this year’s state football playoffs look awfully familiar.
Last season’s state quarterfinals featured Mount Baker, Lummi and Squalicum facing Tumwater, but unlike the Blackhawks, the Mountaineers and Storm are hoping state quarter exits transform into state semifinal berths.
That would certainly make Whatcom County well represented at the Tacoma Dome next week.
While Lummi has a relative easy path to a possible rematch with rival Neah Bay, Baker faces another tough matchup heading on the road to play Montesano, which last week knocked off the defending 1A champs Cascade Christian. Meanwhile, Squalicum gets a huge test against No. 1-ranked Tumwater.
Here are some storylines for each team heading into this week’s state quarterfinals:
Baker no stranger to Montesano, close contests
The Mountaineers came from behind to win a 47-42 thriller over Kalama last week, but it was far from Mount Baker’s first postseason nail-biter.
Apologies for drudging up painful memories, but it was only a season ago when the Mountaineers suffered a massive fourth-quarter collapse to Eatonville during the 1A state quarters. Baker owned a 21-0 lead entering the fourth-quarter but had its season end with a heartbreaking 29-28 overtime loss.
But in 2013, Mount Baker finished on the right side of an overtime victory, beating Cascade Christian 31-28 in to advance to its only state title game in program history.
So if Baker’s matchup with Montesano comes down to a final possession, it will be nothing new for the Mountaineers. Plus, Baker should have a mental edge entering the game having beat Montesano 41-28 during last year’s opening state round.
Squalicum not lacking motivation this week
The Storm learned, during its impressive 2014 run to the state quarterfinals, that it needed to get more physical in order to move deeper into the state playoffs.
Squalicum lost three times but the season-ending defeat to Tumwater offered the most evidence. The Storm yielded a season-worst 59 points and found little success stopping the Thunderbirds power offense.
“I think we are excited to play a team that everybody can agree they are pretty darn good,” Storm coach Nick Lucey said in a phone interview. “(Squalicum) is as competitive of a group as I have been around. There are a lot of kids who play a lot of sports and excel at it, and they are looking forward to competing.”
Now Squalicum gets its shot, on its home turf, to exact some revenge on top-ranked Tumwater.
Lummi, Sandusky working more magic
Two months ago the Blackhawks seemed to be in trouble. Between low numbers and ineligibility, Lummi was forced to cancel its scheduled game against Neah Bay.
Seven wins later, the Blackhawks are on the brink of advancing to yet another Class 1B State Playoff semifinal. Lummi has returned standout Hank Hoskins to the field, and last year’s 1B AP All-State Basketball Player of the Year Trazil Lane is back making big plays.
Given this week’s opponent Quilcene lost to Evergreen Lutheran 28-8 Week 5 and Lummi beat Evergreen 50-0 last week, odds are the Blackhawks will get another date with Neah Bay in the semifinals at the Tacoma Dome.