Bracket Breakdown: Game-by-game analysis, picks in WIAA Class 1B state football tournament

The dream has become reality for Waterville-Mansfield. The Shockers have returned to the promised land of the WIAA state football playoffs for the first time since 2006.

“Great players make coaches look good,” Shockers coach Tayn Kendrick said. “All credit goes to our three four-year seniors who have stuck with us. They’ve created a culture that other kids want to be a part of.”

Those seniors – Jack Katovich, Braydon Murison and Kaneem Island – won only one game in each of their first two seasons as Shockers. They “caught lightning in a bottle,” Kendrick said, last spring during the COVID-delayed and truncated season, and went 2-2.

This fall, Waterville-Mansfield has capitalized on that bit of spring success by winning five games (5-3) and advancing to the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. The Shockers have lost only twice since opening weekend, both to district champion Liberty Bell.


Bracket breakdown: Surprises, snubs, top first round matchups

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The second loss to the Mountain Lions came three weeks ago, and cost the Shockers their leading receiver to injury – tight end Marshall Mires. He will not play against the speedy Comets on Saturday.

“They are worthy of a high ranking,” Kendrick said of the Comets. “We need to make sure to get a hat on a hat, and stay in control of ourselves.”

Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual performers, outlook and score prediction, of this weekend’s 2021 WIAA Class 1B football round-of-12 matchups.

NO. 11 WINLOCK CARDINALS (8-1) at NO. 6 DeSALES IRISH (5-2) 

1 p.m. Saturday at Paul B. Cox Stadium, Walla Walla

Statistical leaders: For Winlock – QB Neal Patching (16-43, 439 yards, six TDs; 106 carries, 1,204 rushing yards, 18 TDs), RB Nolan Swofford (146 carries, 1,610 yards, 28 TDs), WR Collin Regalado (eight catches, 276 yards, four TDs). For DeSales – QB Joe Baffney (93-156, 1,600 yards, 32 TDs), RB Sean Sollars (49 carries, 504 yards, six TDs), WR Seamus Doohan (45 catches, 761 yards, 14 TDs).

What to watch for: Will it be the passing game of the Irish or the multi-threat running game for the Cardinals that ultimately will prevail. Winlock has allowed just 18 points total in its past two games, seemingly peaking at the right time.

Pick: Winlock, 46-40.

NO. 10 CUSICK PANTHERS (6-3) at NO. 7 LIBERTY BELL MOUNTAIN LIONS (8-1) 

3 p.m. Saturday at Mountain Lion Stadium, Winthrop

Statistical leaders: For Cusick – statistics unavailable. For Liberty Bell – QB Riley Lidey (63-98, 1,071 yards, 12 TDs), RB Lucien Paz (92 carries, 1,101 yards, 10 TDs), WR Sawyer Crandall (27 catches, 476 yards, six TDs).

What to watch for: The Mountain Lions can throw the ball as well as gain with their run game. But the Panthers only losses this season are to two teams waiting for winners of this week’s first round games – Almira/Coulee-Hartline and Odessa – and playoff-bound Wilbur-Creston-Keller.

Pick: Liberty Bell, 58-30.

NO. 12 WATERVILLE-MANSFIELD SHOCKERS (5-3) at NO. 5 NASELLE COMETS (7-1)

1 p.m. Saturday at South Bend High School

Statistical leaders: For Waterville – QB Cole Borden (39-97, 493 yards, 10 TDs), RB Abraham Diaz (92 carries, 1,066 yards, 15 TDs), TE Marshall Mires (16 catches, 333 yards, eight TDs). For Naselle – QB Jacob Lindstrom (35-52, 590 yards, 11 TDs), RB Colten Lindstrom (61 carries, 1,371 yards, 18 TDs), WR Jason Harmon (11 catches, 203 yards, three TDs; 54 carries, 724 yards, 11 TDs).

What to watch for: The Shockers like to run downhill and don’t attack the perimeter much, while the Comets have a strong defensive line and speedy linebackers that flow to the ball. That speed for Naselle has resulted in quick possessions all season for the offense, and will require Waterville-Mansfield to stay disciplined.

Pick: Naselle, 54-30. 

NO. 9 NEAH BAY RED DEVILS (5-2) at NO. 8 WILBUR-CRESTON-KELLER WILDCATS (7-1)

3 p.m. Saturday at Lions Field, Moses Lake

Statistical leaders: For Neah Bay – QB Julien Carrick (27-44, 351 yards, seven TDs), RB Julien Carrick (87 carries, 1,169 yards, 17 TDs), WR Neil Bowechop (14 catches, 240 yards, five TDs). For Wilbur – QB Peyton Michel (18-38, 460 yards, six TDs), RB Preston Michel (83 carries, 1,034 yards, 19 TDs), WR Preston Michel (10 catches, 226 yards, five TDs).

What to watch for: The key this week will be who wins in the trenches, which may seem strange for the 8-man brand, but the Wildcats have used a power inside running game to score more than 50 points in all but one game this fall. The Red Devils must curtail that attack to have a chance.

Pick: Wilbur-Creston-Keller, 58-50.

(Featured photo courtesy of Kim Katovich)

Doug Drowley

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