BELLEVUE — The Port Angeles football team isn’t about to take the Interlake Saints lightly in tonight’s Class 2A first-round state playoff.
Interlake may have only three wins to its name, but coming out of the powerful 2A/3A KingCo, the Saints have been tested as much as any team in the 2A playoffs.
As back-to-back wins over North Mason (55-34) and Clover Park (54-35) last week illustrated, the Saints (3-8 overall) are no pushovers.
In other words, Port Angeles (9-1) will have to earn its first state playoff win in school history.
“Their record hasn’t come up once this week,” said Port Angeles head coach Tom Wahl, who guided the team to its first state trip in 18 years in his first season at the helm.
“I think people realize that they’ve won their last two games very convincingly against at least one team we know [North Mason]
“So, no, I don’t think anybody thinks any less of them because of their record.”
Perhaps that’s because they’ve seen Saints running back Jordan Todd on film.
The 5-foot-6, 165-pound spark plug could be the most talented runner the Riders have faced all season.
Todd has run for 500 yards and 13 touchdowns in the last two games alone, and 1,078 yards in eight games this season.
He is the focus of the Saints’ shotgun spread attack, a speedy cut-and-go runner who has routinely broken off big plays during Interlake’s current two-game win streak.
“He kind of reminds me of [former Rider runner] Adam Macomber,” Wahl said. “He’s pretty fast, and he’s pretty solid.
“He’s kind of their franchise now. They will go with him as much as they can.”
Much like Port Angeles, Interlake operates out of a four wide receiver set that puts one of the wideouts in motion.
While the Saints are more of a run-first offense than the Riders, quarterback Matt Malos (1,386 yards passing, 13 TDs, 10 interceptions) has little trouble throwing the ball.
That being said, bottling up Todd is the Riders’ main concern.
“The main thing is the guys are just going to have to really get quick reads and break down and be ready,” Wahl said. “A guy like that will just juke you.
“You can’t arm tackle him or he’ll just explode right through.”
Port Angeles won’t be doing anything new on offense or defense.
After their redemptive 28-21 win over Sumner in last week’s preliminary playoff — one week after getting blitzed by rival Sequim 41-0 — Wahl and company see little reason to change anything.
Rider quarterback Keenen Walker is coming off one if his best games of the season, having thrown for three touchdowns and ran for another against Sumner.
And the defense re-established itself as a big-play unit, coming up with six tackles for a loss while the score was tied at 21 in the fourth quarter.
“The Sequim game was devastating for a lot of people,” Wahl said. “But Sumner helped us overcome that and realize who we are and get our confidence back.“You could see it this week. It made a big difference”