High School Football

Meridian has answered every challenge so far; here’s what it faces in the district playoffs

Meridian’s Harlon Stuit catches a pass for a touchdown against Mount Baker Oct. 6.
Meridian’s Harlon Stuit catches a pass for a touchdown against Mount Baker Oct. 6. eabell@bhamherald.com

Time: 7 p.m. Friday

Site: Anacortes High School

1102 FOOT Meridian

Eagles (4-5) update: Cedar Park Christian enters as the No. 3 seed out of the 1A Cascade Conference and beat Tenino 37-26 in a non-league game Friday. Former Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff is now coaching the Eagles after he was dismissed in 2016 following an investigation by the WIAA found violations of state rules. Not surprisingly, the Eagles like to run the ball, as they’ve passed for only 154 yards and one TD this year. Zach Wilkins has been the top back, running for 745 yards and seven TDs, though Jason He has 415 yards and four scores.

Eagles previous state appearances (last): One (2011).

Bryce Vandenhaak
Bryce Vandenhaak

Trojans (9-0) update: No. 3 Meridian enters as the No. 1 seed out of the 1A NWC and beat Mount Baker 52-29 Friday. Quarterback Simon Burkett surpassed 300 yards passing for the sixth time this year with 371 yards and five TDs, giving him 2,693 yards, 29 TDs and only seven interceptions on 274 attempts. He has plenty of options to target with Lukas Hemenway (410 yards, 3 TDs), Tony Schliemer (378 yards, 3 TDs) and T.J. Dykstra (255 yards, 3 TDs). Cole Roberts leads the Trojans with 434 yards rushing and five TDs this season.

Trojans previous state appearances (last): 23 (2016).

Key to the game: Meridian showed that it is plenty capable of playing the run, holding Mount Baker to 137 yards on 44 carries last week (3.1 average). Another effort like that should land the Trojans in the state playoffs a third straight year and for the 10th time in 12 years.

Player to watch: Bryce Vandenhaak can hurt you in a number of ways. He’s rushed for 341 yards and two TDs and caught 44 passes for 1,191 yards and 18 scores, which, according to whatcomcountyfootball.com, broke the single-season receiving TD record previously held by Ferndale’s Rocki Sandusky.

Prediction: Meridian 35-20.

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