Dylan Hickok, Trevor Pagnossin and Kevin Galiano don’t need a football comfort zone.
They’ll play — and most likely play well — anywhere Meridian coach Bob Ames asks.
“We often ask our players to step outside their comfort zones (to play somewhere other than their usual position), but those guys will play anywhere you ask them,” said Ames, who calls them “our Swiss Army knives.”
In the third consecutive state quarterfinal game for the versatile trio, the Trojans (8-3) will face Colville (8-2) in the Class 1A playoffs Saturday at 1 p.m. at Civic Stadium.
It’s the first game of an attractive doubleheader at Civic, as Lynden (10-0) will face Tumwater (10-1) in a 2A quarterfinal at 4 p.m. The other two Whatcom County teams alive in the state brackets will face challenging 1A tests on the road, with Lynden Christian (9-2) at Hoquiam (10-0) at 5 p.m. and Mount Baker (8-4) at defending state champion Royal (11-0) at 1 p.m.
Galiano, for one, has friends on all three other county teams still in the playoffs. The elusive junior cornerback/wide receiver, a genuine two-sport standout, also played summer seven-on-seven football with the Whatcom Wild, a team made up of players from throughout the county.
“After I made the cut for the Wild, playing (often in other western states) against great players really helped prepare me,” said Galiano, who had all of Meridian’s three interceptions, with one returned for a touchdown, in the Trojans’ 40-21 win over Elma in the first round. “Playing with the Wild made me a lot better. It was eye-opening.”
The 6-foot, 170-pound Galiano, who led Meridian with 13 goals last soccer season and has 20 in his first two years, would like to play college soccer and is a Running Start student at Whatcom Community College with a 3.8 grade-point average. He also has more than 40 receptions for more than 500 yards to go with six touchdowns, giving him 10 scores on offense for his two seasons as a starter.
Galiano was a kicker last season, and he still practices there.
But early season foot and groin injuries — from which he has recovered — forced him to give up kicking, so he’s happy to see fellow junior Taylor Snook doing a solid job.
Hickok, a third-year varsity starter on defense and a straight-A student, also is enjoying his first year in Running Start as a senior.
When it comes to football smarts, both Galiano and Hickok can point to Pagnossin, who was voted by the players as a co-captain along with Hickok and quarterback Dawson Logan.
“That kid is something else. Trevor has played all over the line,” Ames said in admiration of the three-year offensive line starter.
“Trevor is a great lineman in a tight end’s body,” said Hickok of the 6-1, 195-pound Pagnossin, “with a lineman’s heart.“
Pagnossin has started at least one game this season at each of the five line positions and has played alongside at least seven other offensive linemen because injuries have caused complications.
“I’ll just play where ever I’m needed, ” said Pagnossin, also a standout at defensive end and a 3.2 student who is interested in learning a skilled trade.
Like his teammates, Pagnossin says he is motivated by memories of Meridian’s close call in a 34-29 loss to Royal in last year’s state final.
Hickok plays a rugged linebacker at 5-10, 165 pounds, and starts at running back along with another gritty senior, Cole Roberts. Hickok is especially effective as a receiver, with nearly 30 catches for almost 500 yards and three scores.
Galiano and Pagnossin said they admire the way Hickok often needs three or four tacklers to take him down — and even then, Hickok has been known to stay on his feet by the time the whistle blows.
“You can see the great passion Dylan has for football,” Galiano said. “Dylan just loves to play.”
When it comes to versatility, all three standouts admire Logan, who is playing quarterback for the first time as a senior with inspiring results after two seasons as a receiver. Logan, who hopes to win a medal at state track in the javelin, has nearly 2,800 yards total offense (combined passing and running, with well over 1,000 in both).
And if Logan is sidelined, guess who plays quarterback? That’s right, it’s Hickok, who took over early in the second half of a 13-9 win over Mount Baker.
Hickok takes shots every two weeks for Crohn’s Disease, an auto-immune disorder that he says now is in remission, and has learned to cope with the sleep disorder narcolepsy as well.
When you watch the way Hickok twists, turns and just plain makes it truly tough to tackle him, size notwithstanding, it’s hard to believe he is anything but 100 percent healthy.
An now, the threesome helps they can help the Trojan take another step forward with a win over Colville.
“Our conference schedule really prepares us for the playoffs,” Hickok said of the two games against each of three other teams also including Nooksack Valley, which might well have qualified for state in another league. “Around here, people are pretty used to it (county smaller school football excellence).”
State playoff quarterfinals
▪ Class 1A: Colville at Meridian (at Civic Stadium), 1 p.m.
▪ Class 1A: Mount Baker at Royal, 1 p.m.
▪ Class 2A: Tumwater at Lynden (at Civic Stadum), 4 p.m.
▪ Class 1A: Lynden Christian at Hoquiam, 5 p.m.