Bracket Breakdown: Quarterfinal game-by-game analysis, picks in WIAA Class 2B state football tournament

What does it mean to be an Onalaska football player? It means you’re a Logger. It’s not just the school’s mascot; it’s a mentality. 

“It’s like cutting a big patch of timber,” said Onalaska coach Mazen Saade, who is in his 11th year with the team. “You have to get the lumber moved. … You have to go to work.”

Onalaska football is as much about pigskin as it is about the small logging town itself. From the physical, triple-option offense the Loggers cut opponents down with to the underdog mentality the coaches preach, Onalaska football is the perfect representation of the community in which in it thrives. 

“It’s ingrained in these kids from birth about being gritty and doing what’s right,” Saade says. “It’s about taking your lunch pail to work and getting things done.'”

The 2019 defending state champion champion Loggers (5-5) have to do just that Saturday against fourth-seeded Lind-Ritzville/Sprague (9-0). The teams play at 1 p.m. at Gonzaga Prep in Spokane. 

Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, like Onalaska, has a rich football history and a “disciplined, big, fast and strong” team this year, Saade said. 

“Their record speaks for itself,” he added. “They’re freaking tough.”

But Onalaska doesn’t mind the challenge; they relish it. The underdog role comes natural. 

“They know how to dig, and this year they’ve had to dig,” Saade said of his team. “They put themselves in a place to play in the quarterfinals, and they’re excited about it. It means something to them.”


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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 2B football quarterfinal matchups.

NO. 6 COLUMBIA of BURBANK COYOTES (10-0) vs. NO. 3 OKANOGAN BULLDOGS (10-0)

7 p.m. Friday at Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

Statistical leaders: For Columbia – QB Michael Lenke (1,179 passing yards, 950 rushing yards, 37 TDs), RB Elijah Kinsey (1,319 yards, 16 TDs), Shawn Wilder (28 catches, 585 yards, nine TDs), Triston Frimodt (24 catches, 371 yards, 10 TDs). For Okanogan – QB Brad Ingram (46-88, 695 yards, seven TDs), RB Tucker Pritchard (71 carries, 717 yards, nine TDs), RB Calvin Yusi (101 carries, 668 yards, 15 TDs) and LB Johnny Swartsel (42.5 tackles).

What to watch for: After their first state win since 1985, the Coyotes face the stiffest test east of the mountains. Okanogan is as talented as its 2014 and 2015 state champion teams and hasn’t allowed more than a touchdown in a game since Oct. 1. 

Pick: Okanogan, 49-20.

NO. 10 FORKS SPARTANS (8-1) vs. NO. 2 NAPAVINE TIGERS (10-0)

1 p.m. Saturday at Tiger Stadium, Centralia

Statistical leaders: For Forks – QB Logan Olson (72-135, 985 yards, 11 TDs), RB Nate Dahlgren (165 carries, 1,075 yards, 14 TDs), WR Dalton Kilmer (40 catches, 628 yards, six TDs), DB Logan Olson (54 tackles). For Napavine – QB Ashton Demarest (70-118, 1,661 yards, 24 TDs; 61 carries, 488 yards, five TDs); RB Gavin Parker (90 carries, 1,202 yards, 17 TDs); WR Lucas Dahl (25 catches, 736 yards, 10 TDs). 

What to watch for: A rematch of a Week 8 affair that Napavine won 60-0, Forks has its work cut out for it against a Tigers team seeking its seventh consecutive 2B semifinal appearance.

Pick: Napavine, 56-7.

NO. 5 ONALASKA LOGGERS (5-5) vs. NO. 4 LIND-RITZVILLE/SPRAGUE/WASHTUCNA BRONCOS (9-0)

1 p.m. Saturday at Gonzaga Prep, Spokane 

Statistical leaders: For Onalaska – FB Marshall Haight (188 carries, 1,513 yards, 22 TDs), RB/DB Gunnar Talley (41 carries, 470 yards, 12 TDs; six interceptions on defense), RB Kolby Mozingo (41 carries, 545 yards, six TDs). For Lind-Ritzville/Sprague – QB Chase Galbreath 109-172, 1,555 yards, 20 TDs), RB Brody Boness (57 carries, 423 yards, nine TDs), WR Hunter Dinkins (30 catches, 543 yards, eight TDs), LB Brody Boness (37 tackles). 

What to watch for: The defending champions showed the salty record was a byproduct of a tough schedule and not an indicator of the talent level with a 62-8 trouncing of No. 12 River View last week. Now, the plodding Loggers head back over the mountains to face a stout LRS defense (three TDs in past three games).

Pick: Onalaska, 36-20

NO. 9 TOLEDO RIVERHAWKS (10-2) vs. NO. 1 KALAMA CHINOOKS (9-0)

7:30 p.m. Saturday at Chinook Stadium, Kalama

Statistical leaders: For Toledo – QB Wyatt Nef (577 passing yards, 1,055 rushing yards, 31 TDs), RB Justin Filla (1,411 yards, 17 TDs), FB Geoffrey Glass (953 yards, 13 TDs). For Kalama – QB Jackson Esary (102-156, 1,955 yards, 33 TDs; 71 carries, 851 yards, 13 TDs), Jack Doerty (33 catches, 666 yards, 15 TDs), Max Cox (39 catches, 746 yards, 11 TDs).

What to watch for: These teams met in Week 8 when the top-ranked Chinooks won, 36-7. These division rivals are quite familiar with each other, but Kalama has had the advantage in recent memory, particularly with superstar quarterback Jackson Esary pulling the strings.  

Pick: Kalama, 34-14.

(Featured file photo by Joshua Hart)

Joshua Hart

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