Bracket Breakdown: Game-by-game analysis, picks in WIAA Class 3A state football tournament

Seattle Prep linebacker Austin Harnetiaux’s approach to the playoffs called for a little dose of mental amnesia in the moments after an emotional round-of=32 road win over Mountain View on Saturday. 

“Flush it,” Harnetiaux said. “Flush this victory … we want to keep this jersey on for as long as we can.”

It’s an approach he may have heard from his coaches. But a clear memory might serve the Panthers — or any of the five Metro League teams in the WIAA Class 3A state-tournament field — well this month, tapping into close-game experience and strength of schedule in what’s been regarded as the classification’s toughest league in recent years.

The Metro League has five teams ranked No. 21 or higher in the WIAA’s RPI Index’s. Seattle Prep is the only team without a win over a team in the 3A field (though it beat 1A 8-seed Mount Baker), and its four losses are against the other Metro League teams in the bracket.

In a classification seemingly dominated by a Metro League presence, this year’s 16-team state field has the most teams (five) from that Seattle-area league in more than a decade.

In 2017, the league went 4-for-4 in the first round, which begs the question: Can it go 5-0 this weekend?

It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but to happen, will call for a few upsets.

In order to do so, 2-seed Eastside Catholic must slow No. 15 Stanwood’s high-octane ground attack, and 3-seed O’Dea must beat red-hot No. 14 Kelso, No. 9 Rainier Beach must win on the road at 9-seed Peninsula, as do 12-seed Garfield (at Marysville-Pilchuck) and 13-seed Seattle Prep (at Yelm).

If you consider this a long shot possibility, consider this: A non-Metro League team hasn’t played in a 3A state championship game since Kamiakin in 2015.

So, will five of the surviving eight state quarterfinal teams all hail from the same league?

Don’t be surprised if that happens.

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Editor’s note: Here is a game-by-game breakdown — top individual performers, outlook and score predictions — of this weekend’s 2021 WIAA Class 3A football round-of-16 matchups.


(Photo by Andy Buhler)

1 p.m. Saturday at Lampson Field, Kennewick 

Statistical leaders: For Spanaway Lake — QB: Dempsy James 73-118, 934 yards, 10 INT); RB: Josh Collie (57 carries, 498 yard, 7 INT), Dempsy James (51 carries, 226 yards, 7 TD), D’Aryhian Clemons (30 carries, 212 yards, 2 TD); WR: Jasiah Wagoner (28 carries, 360 yards 4 TD), Jermaine Broussard Jr. (19 rec, 232 yards, 3 TD), KeeKee McQueen (13 rec, 209, 3 TD); Defense: Taloivao Jr. Fiame (32 tackles, 4 TFL), Jonathan Graver (27 tackles, 4 TFL), Trishion Sullivan (20 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks), McQueen (31 tackles, 2 INT). For Kennewick — QB: Dayton Davis (103-168,  1,566, 15 TD, 5 INT); RB: Myles Mayovsky (191 carries, 1,228 yards, 14 TD), Davis (59 carries, 340 yards, 3 TD); WR: Austin Stoddard (35 rec, 548 yards, 2 TD), Mayovsky (14 rec, 296 yards, 2 TD). Defense: Bronson Childs (8 tackles per game), Simeon Howard (3 INT), Ayden Knapik (6.5 sacks).

What to watch for: After running the table in the 3A PCL in the spring, the Sentinels built a postseason appetite – but had to wait months for another shot to play their first meaningful playoff games in years. COVID pauses and cancelations have kept Spanaway Lake off the field at times, but here they are. Four-star receiver/defensive back Jasaiah Wagoner is a load to keep track of, and breakout sophomore power back Josh Collie will run into the biggest defensive front its seen all year — led by the MCC lineman of the year (Ayden Knapik), the conferenced defensive player of the year (Bronson Childs) and Myles Mayovsky, who earned all-state praise as a sophomore leading the Lions to the 3A. state semifinals in Randy Affholter’s first year at the helm. That defense is giving up 10.9 points per game.

Pick: Kennewick, 26-23.


(Photo by Andy Buhler)

5 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, Seattle

Statistical leaders: For Kelso — QB: Hunter Letteer (1,597 yards, 19 TD, 3 INT); Rushing: Conner Noah (143 carries, 934 yards), 12 TD), Judah Calixte (63 carries, 616 yards, 5 TD), Letteer (47 carries, 291 yards), Colby Cooper (21 carries, 200 yards, 7 TD); Receiving: Zeke Smith (24 rec, 563 yards, 8 TD), Cooper (39 rec, 409 yards, 5 TD); For O’Dea — QB: John Kohler 41-84, 763 yards, 5 TD); RB: Jason Brown Jr. (187 carries, 1,629 yards, 17 TD), Georgios Kotsakis (46 carries,  450 yards); WR: Tucker Ashcraft (17 rec, 294 yards, 3 TD); Defense: Zach Newson (78 tackles, 3 TFL, sack), Daynne Camacho (66 tackles, TFL), Mark Nabou (45 tackles, 3 sacks).

What to watch for: After back-to-back midseason losses to Mountain View and Skyview, the Hilanders have won four consecutive games, and recently sent undefeated Auburn Riverside home after a round-of-32 road victory in Week 10. Ground game is flourishing behind Conner Noah and Judah Calixste. How will that fare against O’Dea’s sturdy defensive front? And can Kelso stop Jason Brown Jr (203.6 rush yards per game)? The Fighting Irish, who have played in three of the past four 3A state championships (won in 2017), are still searching for consistency on offense.

Pick: O’Dea, 28-14.


(Photo by Erik Smith)

1 p.m. Saturday at Arlington High School

Statistical leaders: For Mount Spokane — QB: Kellen Flannigan (132-219, 1,931 yards, 16 TD, 7 INT); Rushing: Tyler Alm (69 carries, 327 yards, 3 TD), Blake Speer (33 carries, 220 yards, 2 TD), Ethan Keene (24 carries, 207 yards,  3 TD); WR: Jordan Sands (31 rec, 524 yards, 5 TD), Speer (34 rec, 487, 4 TD), Aiden Prado (22 rec, 461 yards, 5 TD); Defense: Jackson Kink (67 tackles), Jerad Dotson (2 INT, 19 tackles),  Daniel Schupp (58 tackles, 4 TFL). For Arlington — QB: Trent Nobach (161-231, 2,152 yards,  30 TD); Rushing: RJ Gese (88 carries, 378 yards, 10 TD), Holden Erken (17 carries, 123 yards); Receiver: Gage Price (34 rec, 617 yards, 8 TD),  Levi Younger (52 rec, 549 yards, 14 TD), Elisha Jackson (23 rec, 440 yards, 5 TD); Defense: Quinton Yon-Wagner (88. Tackles, 2 TFL), Hunter Eastman (54 tackles), Josh Snow (40 tackles, 6 TFL, 11 sacks), Ethan Martin (4 INT).

What to watch for: Arlington sent shockwaves across the state when it dealt streaking. No.  5 Marysville Pilchuck its first (and only) loss. But the Eagles themselves weren’t overly surprised. Two standout seniors and multi-year starters lead the way on offensive (Trent Nobach) and defense (Quinton Yon-Wagner). What happens when they host a Mount Spokane defense that will turn you over and shut you out (20-0 over Gig Harbor in Week 10)? Wildcats Texas A&M-bound placekicker Ethan Mocskulski could be the difference in a close game.

Pick: Arlington, 20-17.


(Photo by Vince Miller)

7:45 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium, Seattle

Statistical leaders: For Stanwood — QB: Michael Mascotti (11-24, 286, 3 TD, 4 INT); RB: Ryder Bumgarner (160 carries, 1,427 yards, 18 TD), Carson Beckt (55 carries, 393 yards, 5 TD), Otto Wiedmann (23 carries, 295 yards, 3 TD), Noah Grina (46 carries, 288 yards, 3 TD); WR: Isaiah Hughes (3 rec, 119 yards, 3 TD); Defense: Grina (52. Tackles, TFL, FF), Bumgarner (48 tackles, 5 INT, 3 fumble rec), Hughes (34 tackles, 4 INT). For Eastside Catholic — QB: Brady McKelheer (77-137, 951 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT — thru 7 games*); RB: Chase Hamdan (68 carries, 440 yards — thru 6 games*), Mason Uribe (81 carries, 303 yards — thru 6. games*); WR: Andrew Martorano (19 rec, 387 yards — thru 7 games*); Defense: Dishawn Misa (23 tackles, 6 TFL, 1 fumble rec TD, sack), David Lane (21 tackles, 3 TFL, sack, 2 FF, 2 INT)

What to watch for: Watch out – this Crusaders’ defense at full strength is a scary sight. It’s forced 30 turnovers in eight games, logged 29 sacks, 37 tackles for loss, scored six defensive touchdowns and holds opponents to a 17 percent third-down conversion rate. They face a tall task in Stanwood, which has scored 43 points per game in its past three contests. RB Ryder Bumgarner averages around 158 yards per game, and is coming off of a 284-yard Week 10 outing in a state play-in victory over Lincoln of Tacoma. Stanwood is playing its first playoff game since 1996.

Side note — Crusaders DC Marcus Ungaro and Spartans coach Jeff Scoma overlapped briefly on Bellevue’s coaching staff in 2019, before Ungaro was offered a coordinator role with the (now-defunct) Seattle Dragons of the XFL.

Pick: Eastside Catholic, 21-10


(Photo by Vince Miller)

7 p.m. Saturday at Quil Ceda Stadium, Marysville

Statistical leaders: Garfield — Jacolby Cochran is the team’s most dynamic weapon, as a route-running wideout, a lockdown DB and return specialist. Kicker Marcus Merkelbach has range and could be the difference in a close game. Denali Dukes is the lead rusher and two-sport standout Raphael Justice has come into his own as a lockdown corner. Marysville-Pilchuck: QB: Jace Luton (22-42, 377 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT); RB: Dylan Carson (144 carries, 1,859 yards, 38 TD), Jordan Velasquez (56 carries, 887 yards, 14 TD).

What to watch for: Know what’s more defeating than knowing what Marysville-Pilchuck is going to run? Knowing it’s the slot-T attack and not being able to stop it. Dylan Carson and Jordan Velasquez are approaching a combined 3,000 yards on the ground running behind a senior-laden line to an average of 49.2 points per game. The Bulldogs only start four seniors, but don’t let age fool you. A balanced, aggressive offensive attack helped net them wins over No. 12 Seattle Prep and Ferndale – and a close loss to No. 2 Eastside Catholic. High-motor WR Jacolby Cochran gets defense’s best cover man – and usually comes out on top. 

Pick: Marysville-Pilchuck, 28-17.


(Photo by Tim Oishi)

1 p.m. Saturday at Yelm High School

Statistical leaders: For Seattle Prep — QB Braeden Smith (39 total TD), TE Jack Velling (58 rec), LB Austin Harnetiaux (104 tackles, 12 TFL, 5 sacks), LB Isaiah May (87 tackles, 9 TFL). For Yelm — Rushing: Brayden Platt (758 yards); Receiving: Kyler Ronquillo (641 yards, 4 TD); Defense: Ray Wright (70.5 tackles, 11 TFL), Logan Platt (46.5 tackles 13 TFL), Dylan Conklin (40.5 tackles, 6.5 TFL.

What to watch for: Get your popcorn out and say a prayer for your team’s stat-keeper – these are two high-octane offenses colliding. Yelm ran the table, including early-season wins over round-of 32-qualifying opponents (Lincoln, Mount Si, Mead), behind standout wideout/cornerback/return specialist Kyler Ronquillo, linebacker/running back Brayden Platt and standout linebacker Ray Wright. The Panthers counter with big-play quarterback Braeden Smith, who is capable of just about anything.

Pick: Yelm, 31-27.


(Photo by Vince Miller)

1 p.m., Saturday at Roy Anderson Field, Purdy

Statistical leaders: For Rainier Beach — Passing: Chance Guadiz 84-146, 1,178 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT); Rushing: Scott’Tre Humphries (109 carries, 659 yards, 10 TD); Nahmier Robinson (42 carries, 222 yards, TD), Myles Daymon (16 carries, 105 yards), TeElijah Holloway (26 carries, 209 yards — 2 games*); WR: Jaelin Green (32 rec, 505 yards, 7 TD), Shaki Davis (19 rec, 324 yards, 2 TD), Caleb Presley (8 rec, 107 yards, TD). For Peninsula — QB: Jake Bice (74-124, 959 yards, 8 TD).

What to watch for: Peninsula enters the playoffs relatively unproven in big games this fall. The Seahawks appear much improved from their season-opening drubbing from No. 1 Bellevue, but the would-be 3A SSC title-game against No. 4 Yelm was canceled (COVID-19). Meanwhile, Rainier Beach’s resume for a home playoff game was convincing enough on paper — a 41-0 win over No. 14 Garfield and 46-35 win over No. 12 Seattle Prep and one-point losses to 2-seeds Eastlake (4A) and Eastside Catholic – but not by the selection committee. Still, a tough-as-nails defense and offense coming into form spell trouble for any opponent.

Pick: Rainier Beach, 31-14


(Photo by Vince Miller)

7 p.m. Friday at Bellevue High School

Statistical leaders: For Lakes — QB: Justin Brennan (60 for 102, 1,265,  14. TD, 5 INT — 6 games*); RB: Leo Pulalasi (99 carries, 811 yards, 12 TD), Ki’Marree Washington (87 carries, 731 yards, 7 TD), Coronado Davis (12 carries, 110 yards, 2 TD); WR: David Wells (34 rec, 861 yards, 8 TD), Pulalasi (16 rec, 352, 5 TD); Defense: Justin Gonzalez (57 tackles, 6 TFL), Kelvin Squires II (43 tackles, 10 TFL), Elijah Comoza (34 tackles, 4 TFL, 4 sacks), Chris Macon (37 tackles, 3. TFL), Michael Westbrook Jr. (36 tackles, 2 TFL), Wells (3 INT). For Bellevue — RB: William Wang (1,285 yards, 14 TD), Blake Teets (1,082, 10 TD); All-purpose: Ishaan Daniels (991 yards, 13 TD); Defense: George Kruger (68 tackles, 8 TFL), Kolani Masunnu (31.5 tackles, 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Tom Nash (5 sacks, 4 TFL), Isaiah Hennessy (5 TFL, 4 sacks — 4 games*).

What to watch for: Top-seeded Bellevue hits opponents with a heavy dose of Wing-T – the old-school variety. And even though the Wolverines might not be doing it with recruit chart-topping talent, they are still getting it done convincingly. Bruising running backs William Wang and Blake Teets, speedy junior Ishaan Daniels around the edge and a more than reliable pass-catcher in sophomore tight end Hogan Hansen lead a collective approach. Their opponent is no ordinary 16-seed – playoff-mainstay Lakes. This Dave Miller-led Lancers group has overcome a series of early-season injuries to make the state field, and boast a talent-laden offensive operating under the steady hands of fifth-year quarterback Justin Brennan.

Pick: Bellevue, 38-13.

(Lead photo by Vince Miller)

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