ARLINGTON — With rain in the forecast for tonight’s Sequim-Lakewood Class 2A State Football Tournament game, ball control will be a crucial component in whether the 12th-seeded Wolves (9-1) can pull off the upset against the fifth-seeded Cougars (8-1).
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Dick Cardinal Stadium at Lakewood High School, 17023 11th Avenue NE, Arlington.
Twelve seeds upsetting five seeds have become a staple of the NCAA basketball tournament every March, so why not mid-November?
With wet conditions expected, Sequim’s running game will need to be on point against Lakewood.
And Sequim fares better when primary running back Walker Ward is well fed.
Ward may need to better the 200-plus total yards he gained against River Ridge in the district playoffs last week — 164 of those coming on the ground as the junior eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with some tough running.
He enters tonight’s game with 1,041 yards rushing on 205 carries, including eight touchdowns.
“He’s one of the most improved kids we have on the team,” head coach Erik Wiker said. “He’s always been a gutsy, try-hard [kid], always been one of the best outside linebackers in the league and a good, solid runner. But he’s gotten a lot better [this season]. He makes something out of nothing. It’s not fancy, but another shift, a move, a turn and he keeps going.”
Lakewood’s best bet is senior quarterback Jared Taylor, who has thrown for 962 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions, as well as running for 1,143 yards and 17 touchdowns.
The Cougars also boast running backs Landen Pruitt and Malik Dotson, who have each run for more than 500 yards. That means it will be a matchup of strength-on-strength as Lakewood attempts to establish the run against the Wolves’ stingy rush defense.
It’s going to be a big ask as the Cougars have impressive wins against Archbishop Murphy and Liberty (Renton) on the season.
Sequim is seeking it’s second state win, the other coming against Lakewood’s fellow Northwest Conference foe Burlington-Edison in 2009. This game is Sequim’s eighth trip to the tournament since Wiker took over as head coach in 2004 and ninth overall in school history.
The Pick: Lakewood
Class 1B Quad-District Evergreen Lutheran vs. Quilcene, 6:30 p.m. at North Kitsap High School
POULSBO — The Rangers (7-1) face a familiar foe in the Sea-Tac League Eagles (8-1).
Quilcene beat Evergreen Lutheran 58-34 on its way to the Rangers’ third straight Sea-Tac League title earlier this season.
The Pick: Quilcene
Saturday’s games Lummi at No. 5 Neah Bay at Forks, 3 p.m.
FORKS — If it’s the Red Devils (7-1) and Blackhawks in November it must be the playoffs.
A matchup between the two rivals was nearly as certain as death and taxes earlier this decade. Between 2009 and 2016, Neah Bay and Lummi met seven out of eight seasons in the Class 1B semifinals — and that was after typically playing two regular-season contests against each other in those years.
Now the Red Devils will try and beat the Blackhawks for the third time in three games this year.
“We will try to make a guess of what [Lummi head coach] Jim Sandusky will come out with,” Neah Bay head coach TJ Greene said after that last Red Devils-Lummi game, a 64-56 win on Nov. 1.
“He’s one of best offensive coaches and we need to be ready to make adjustments in game. We had to do that Friday night and will have to do that again in the third meeting of the year. And it’s always a tough thing to beat a team three times in a row.”
The Pick: Neah Bay
No. 2 Naselle (9-0) vs. Crescent (5-5) at Aberdeen, 3 p.m.
ABERDEEN — These two met in Joyce on Oct. 12 with the Comets streaking to a 56-14 win over the Loggers.
It’s going to be tough for Crescent to keep pace with senior-dominated Naselle.
The Pick: Naselle.
Last Week: 1-2
Season to Date: 51-12.