Week 10 Regional Washington football playoff preview: Top 6 games to watch, players to see, score predictions

The regular season is done and the postseason is here for Washington high school football.

What are the most compelling matchups of the Week 10 regional playoff round, which will help establish the field for the 2019 football state playoffs across all classifications?

Scorebook Live reporters Andy Buhler and Todd Milles took a look at six games they predict will be the most competitive:

MEAD PANTHERS (7-2) at NO. 6 CHIAWANA RIVERHAWKS (8-1)

6 p.m. Friday, at Edgar Brown Stadium, Pasco

Game nugget: Mead is 7-1 all-time against current 4A Mid-Columbia Conference opponents, but has never faced Chiawana.

About the Panthers: About the time Mead’s Benji Sonnichsen and his staff implored QB Ryan Blair (155-227, 2,389 yards, 31 TDs, one INT) to pass early and often – the Greater Spokane League’s No. 2 seed has not lost a game, winning its final four games of the regular season. Blair has been on fire, and will look for top WRs Evan Wiersma (43 receptions, 790 yards, 13 TDs) and Kaveh Abghari (25 receptions, 529 yards, seven TDs) a lot. The Panthers needed a late defensive stand in the final seconds Friday to hold off Ferris, 21-15, to gain a playoff berth, and they are looking for their first back-to-back state trips since 2012.

About the Riverhawks: It is November, so it must be Steve Graff time. And Chiawana is trying to earn a spot in the state playoffs for the third time in the past four years. QB J.P. Zamora (110-190, 1,646 yards, 18 TDs) has steadily shown himself to be one of the exciting younger talents around the state, and has big-play WR Dion Lee (24 receptions, 459 yards, six TDs) leading a talented pass-catching crew. RB Gabe Schilz (110 rushes, 659 yards, 14 TDs) gives the wide-open attack balance. But the game’s biggest matchup is how the MCC’s top defense (186.6 yards given up per game) matches up with Blair and Mead’s high-flying passing offense.

Scorebook Live WA pick: Chiawana, 23-17.

SKYVIEW STORM (7-2) AT FEDERAL WAY EAGLES (7-1)

7 p.m., Friday at Kiggins Bowl, Vancouver

Game nugget: Only other recorded time the teams played was in the 2009 playoffs, also at Kiggins Bowl. Skyview won 56-14.   

About the Eagles: Federal Way rolled to a 4A North Puget Sound League – Valley division title with a 4-0 league slate, and its Week 10 matchup will likely be its toughest test to date. The Eagles’ lone loss was to Todd Beamer in Week 3, 34-31. But in wins, the Eagles have rolled, outscoring opponents 36-12 on average. Senior quarterback R.J. Tausili, a Snohomish transfer, leads the way as a dual-threat option, and has wideouts Ronald Davis, Corey Quinn and Jatavious Magee, as well as tight end Leaso Tapipu to lead the way.

About the Storm: The Storm, the 2-seed out of the 4A Greater St. Helens League, are battle-tested and perhaps a touchdown and a goal line fumble away from an undefeated season. Skyview’s two losses came to top-10 4A teams — on the road to Mount Si, 31-26, then again in Week 8 to Camas, 21-17. Senior Utah State commit Yaro Duvalko leads the way under center, and Jalynnee McGee is the team’s top back. Duvalko has several experienced receivers in seniors Gavin Baskette, Mason Wheeler and Cooper Barnum, as well as senior tight end Micah Baylous. Skyview’s senior-laden roster has been prepping for years for a deep playoff run. Will this be the year they break through?

Scorebook Live WA pick: Skyview, 35-21.

—Buhler

MOUNT SI WILDCATS (6-2) AT MONROE BEARCATS (7-2)

7 p.m., Saturday at Monroe High School, Monroe

Game nugget: When these teams faced off in 2017 in the same circumstances — loser-out Week 10 regional round — Monroe held on to win 44-40.  

About the Wildcats: Mount Si is the second place finisher in the KingCo Crest division, and know how to play tough teams close. Their lone losses came against division opponent Eastlake (24-18), and KingCo opponent Woodinville (7-3), both top-10 4A teams. The Wildcats are led by quarterback Clay Millen, a dual-threat three-star who has been offered by Oregon and Arizona. But Millen’s top target, Colby Botten, also a DB, suffered a season-ending broken ankle in Week 8. Millen has led many of the team’s juniors to a blemishless record from youth football up to freshman, JV and varsity — will that run continue into the 4A playoffs?

About the Bearcats: Monroe faced its toughest stretch of the season in its first three games, and while it didn’t come out unscathed, the Bearcats held their own. Began with a Week 1 win over Eastlake, one-point loss to Woodinville and a lopsided loss to top 4A side Lake Stevens in Week 3. Since then, the Bearcats rolled through the 4A Wesco. Efton Chism III is a hard-nosed three-star Eastern Washington commit and the Bearcats’ top receiving target, as well as a defensive back. Blake Rybar is the team’s big, hard-hitting running back and linebacker and senior QB Gio Fregeso, a wideout-turned-QB, leads from under center.

Scorebook Live WA pick: 35-31, Monroe.

—Buhler

KAMIAKIN BRAVES (7-2) AT MT. SPOKANE WILDCATS (7-2)

(Photo by Noelle Haro-Gomez)

7 p.m., Friday at Joe Albi Stadium, Spokane

Game nugget: Battle of two of the state’s more prolific running backs. Mt. Spokane’s Kannon Katzer has 1,955 yards rushing through nine games (12.2 yards per carry) with 30 touchdowns and Kamiakin’s Tuna Altahir 1,327 yards (7.6 per carry) with 18 total touchdowns. 

About the Braves: The Braves are coming off of a 40-7 win over Hermiston to close the regular season as the No. 2 seed from the 3A Mid-Columbia Conference. The Scott Biglin-led team has two losses and has posted the highest-gaining offense in the MCC with 420.8 total yards per game. Lost to top 4A MCC seed Chiawana 10-7 in a low-scoring defensive standoff in Week 8. The Braves are small up front, though athletic and well-coached. QB Henry Mercado is elusive and has thrown for 1,901 yards and 21 tds on the season. Slot receiver Kelen Rutz is a speedy target, 6-6 junior wideout Messiah Jones is a big target and junior Woodley Downard is a reliable and athletic target for the Braves.

About the Wildcats: Who can tackle Kannon Katzer? The answer for most of the year has been, well, nearly nobody. The running back has carried the bulk of the load for the Wildcats offense. Tommy Madill has been a reliable second option at back and Jeter Schuerman has led the charge under center. Mt. Spokane beat Shadle Park 42-8 on Friday to lock up the top seed in the 3A GSL, a goal of the team’s from the beginning of the year. The Wildcats’ two losses came to formidable 4A sides Central Valley and Mead.

Scorebook Live WA pick: Mt. Spokane, 24-21.

Stats according to MCC statistician John Crawford.

—Buhler

BALLARD BEAVERS (9-0) at NO. 6 MARYSVILLE-PILCHUCK TOMAHAWKS (9-0)

7 p.m. Friday, at Quill Ceda Stadium, Marysville

Game nugget: Ballard’s last playoff appearance came against a 3A Wesco opponent (Glacier Peak) back in the first round of the 2015 state playoffs. The Beavers lost 41-33.

About the Beavers: It is pretty rare two undefeated teams meet this early in the playoffs but that is what the Metro League’s multi-tiered divisional set-up opens up as a possibility. Ballard easily won the second-tier divisional crown, and will let QB Ryan Blokker (93-147, 1,748 yards, 17 TDs) go after opposing defenses for big-chunk plays. RB Jarman Hauser (137 rushes, 1,049 yards, 13 TDs), a sprinter in track, also is a big-play weapon out of the backfield.

About the Tomahawks: After a four-year absence from the postseason, Marysville-Pilchuck announced its return in a big way by dominating the 3A Wesco with a physical brand of football. The Tomahawks have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in RB Dylan Carson (145 rushes, 1,136 yards, 13 TDs), son of coach Brandon Carson, and WR Jordan Justice (107 rushes, 1,112 yards, 17 TDs; 19 total TDs). When they decided to throw, QB Jake Elwood (34-64, 558 yards, seven TDs) will try and connect with WR Dillon Kuk (21 receptions, 387 yards, four TDs).

Scorebook Live WA pick: Marysville-Pilchuck, 39-29.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY CUBS (7-2) at NO. 5 ARCHBISHOP MURPHY WILDCATS (6-2)

7 p.m. Friday, at Terry Ennis Stadium, Mill Creek

Game nugget: These schools just met two weeks ago to close out their regular season. The Wildcats won, 27-14, at Sedro-Woolley Stadium.

About the Cubs: It was about this time last season that longtime coach and Wing-T advocate Dave Ward ditched the run-base offense and went to a spread attack. That was good news for QB Kaden Plymale (110-185, 1,570 yards, 18 TDs), who has a dynamic go-to performer on the outside in WR Brent Vanderveen (45 receptions, 520 yards, 13 total TDs). Sedro-Woolley’s last district playoff win came in 2016.

About the Wildcats: Before missing the state playoffs last season, Archbishop Murphy had advanced to the final four in three consecutive years, including a 2A title run in 2015. Can the Wildcats make that same kind of noise this month? Much like their opponent, they have ditched the Wing-T so QB Victor Gabalis (49-105, 889 yards, 14 TDs, two INT; 283 rushing yards, four TDs) can find his playmakers in open space.

Scorebook Live WA pick: ATM, 28-24.

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