Meridian at Cascade Christian
After upsetting King’s in the Class 1A Northwest District playoffs last week, Meridian travels to face Cascade Christian in the first round of the 1A state playoffs Saturday at Sumner. The Trojans and Cougars met in Week 3 – a game Cascade Christian won on a blocked extra point.
Time: 7 p.m.
Scouting the Trojans
Coach: Bob Ames (43rd season, 307-153)
District: Northwest (No. 2 seed)
Previous state appearances: 22 (last in 2015)
State record: 29-19
State titles: Three (1999, 2003, ’07)
Trojans update: Meridian heads to state for the seventh time in eight years, but is seeking its first state playoff win since it beat King’s 42-34 in the 2010 quarterfinals. Another win over King’s last week in the district playoffs by a 17-14 count got the Trojans back to state. Nick Sebastian’s 29-yard field goal on the game’s final play proved to be the difference after Meridian forced a late turnover deep in King’s territory. Tony Schleimer rushed for 39 yards and a touchdown in the hard-fought victory, while Cole Roberts added 45 yards on nine carries. Dawson Logan hooked up with Andrew Logan for a 46-yard touchdown. The Meridian defense made things difficult on King’s, limiting the Knights to 2.3 yards per rush attempt and intercepting two passes.
Player to watch: Simon Burkett did not have a particularly big game against King’s, passing for 104 yards, but he’s plenty capable of putting up impressive numbers. He’s thrown for 1,897 yards and 14 touchdowns, but he’s been intercepted nine times. He’s also a threat to run the ball with 535 yards and nine TDs.
Key to the game: Meridian is going to have to find a way to keep Cascade Christian running back Tyquan Coleman out of the end zone. He scored four touchdowns when the two teams met in Week 3 – a 34-33 victory by the Cougars. At the time, he was just Cascade Christian’s No. 3 back, so Meridian will have its work cut out for it to stop the Cougars’ ground game.
Scouting the Cougars
Coach: Randy Davis (13th season, 133-24)
District: West Central (No. 1 seed)
Previous state appearances: 13 (last in 2015)
State record: 25-11
State titles: Two (2010, ’14)
Cougars update: This is the third straight trip to state for Cascade Christian, which has now qualified 11 of the past 12 years. The Cougars wrapped up their Nisqually League title with a 47-8 victory over Coupeville on Friday. Zach Bartolome scored four touchdowns in the game. The Cougars’ defense has been strong throughout, allowing more than 19 points just once this season – the 33 points put up by Meridian. The Cougars have held opponents to single digits five times and shut out opponents twice.
Player to watch: Defensive lineman Nathan Suiter broke through the Meridian line and blocked Sebastian’s extra point attempt in the closing minutes against Meridian, a play that proved to be the difference in the first meeting.
Key to the game: Meridian rushed for 327 yards in the first meeting, led by 150 yards from Bryce Vandenhaak and 105 from Burkett. Schleimer and Burkett each rushed for two TDs in the game. If Cascade Christian allows that kind of production again, Meridian may upset another ranked opponent.