Hoquaim at Mount Baker
The Mount Baker football team hosts Hoquiam Saturday at Civic Stadium in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs. The Mountaineers are seeking a fifth straight trip to at least the state quarterfinals and likely will rely on their powerful running game.
Time: 6 p.m.
Site: Civic Stadium
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Scouting the Grizzlies
Coach: Rick Moore (fourth season, eighth overall, 32-47)
District: Southwest (No. 3 seed)
Previous state appearances: 12 (last in 2015)
State record: 5-12
State titles: None
Grizzlies update: Hoquiam makes its sixth state appearance in seven years, but its 25-20 win over Meridian in the first round last year was its only state playoff win during that stretch. The Grizzlies qualified this year with a 62-29 district win over King’s Way Christian on Friday. Running back Artimus Johnson had a huge game, rushing for 341 yards, including 210 and TD runs of 38, 75 and 67 yards in the second half. He also had a 45-yard TD run in the first half. Hoquiam returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the game – two my Jerod Steen and one by Anthony Nash – and Nash also hauled in a 52-yard touchdown pass.
Player to watch: Mount Baker can’t afford to focus all its attention on stopping Johnson, as Hoquiam quarterback Gregory Dick is plenty capable of making them pay, as well. He threw for a pair of touchdowns against King’s Way Christian.
Key to the game: It’s unlikely Mount Baker will give the Grizzlies a chance for three pick-sixes like they got last week, as the Mountaineers just don’t throw the ball that much. And who could blame them with the running game they possess? It’s up to Hoquiam to find a way to do something that hasn’t happened in the first 10 weeks of the season – slowing Mount Baker’s ground attack.
Scouting the Mountaineers
Coach: Ron Lepper (21st season, 156-67)
District: Northwest (No. 1 seed)
Previous state appearances: 13 (last in 2015)
State record: 11-13
State titles: None
Mountaineers update: Second-ranked Mount Baker is making its fourth straight trip to state and has advanced to at least the quarterfinals each of the previous four years. The Mountaineers rolled through the district playoffs with a 41-0 victory over Sultan on Friday. Jed Schleimer led the way with 188 yards and six TDs on 24 carries. He now has 1,590 yards and 35 touchdowns this year. Carson Engholm has made it a potent 1-2 punch with 1,227 yards and 17 touchdowns this year. He had 79 yards last week. Mount Baker also was outstanding on defense, limiting the Turks to just 62 total yards and four first downs while forcing a pair of turnovers.
Player to watch: Carson Brandland teams with Schleimer to make and excellent linebacking duo. They’ll need to be outstanding Saturday, as they’ll be asked to contain a running back that rushed for more than 300 yards a week ago.
Key to the game: It’s simple this time of year – the Mountaineers need to play Baker football. If Mount Baker can exert its will and play its physical brand of the game, there’s no reason to think it won’t make it back to the state quarterfinals. That means getting Schleimer and Engholm rolling and being hard-nosed on defense.