NEW — Thursday sports update

November 19, 2009

By Staff

NEW — 10:45 a.m. Nov. 19, 2009

Notebook: Liberty refocused for quarterfinals

By Mason Kelley

Seattle Times staff reporter

When trying to get his team to refocus after its 38-35 come-from-behind victory against O’Dea last week, Liberty High School coach Steve Valach looked to Steve Sarkisian.

The Huskies’ first-year head coach has a “24-hour rule” for celebrating wins and, even after the Nov. 13 exciting finish, Valach’s goal was to get his Patriots (10-1) looking ahead to their Class 3A quarterfinal game Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. against Lindbergh.

Throughout Liberty’s feverish fourth-quarter rally — the Patriots trailed O’Dea 35-17 with 10:46 left — Valach told his players to play in the moment.

“I think the same thing applies now as we move forward,” he said. “It’s a similar idea.”

No player better fits that live-in-the-moment spirit than running back Chandler Jenkins. He fumbled several times against O’Dea before finishing with 22 carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He also had eight catches for 126 yards.

“Chandler’s been huge, and he’s tough for a little guy,” Valach said. “He’s strong and he works hard.”

Jenkins injured an ankle in the game, but Valach said he would be ready to go against Lindbergh (10-1). Also, all-purpose Liberty standout Jake Bainton is expected to be back. The junior missed the second half against O’Dea with a right-foot injury.

One week after a win they will never forget, the Patriots look to extend their season. Valach thinks his team is prepared.

“They’re ready to go and I don’t think you make it to this point in the season if your kids aren’t able to focus on Monday after a great win or a tough loss,” Valach said. “That’s part of what the good teams do.”

Plucky Lindy not backing down

They were underdogs before the season even started.

So the Lindbergh Eagles aren’t flinching at the thought of playing third-ranked Liberty.

In a preseason coaches’ poll, Lindbergh was picked to finish fourth in the nine-team Seamount League.

“We put that up on the board,” Eagles coach Pat O’Grady said. “We said, ‘We’ve got something to prove.’ The kids used it as motivation.”

Lindbergh, which starts freshman Matt Stuart at quarterback, won the Seamount title and reached the state playoffs for the first time. Some didn’t give the Renton team much of a chance against Ferndale last week, but Lindbergh won 52-21.

Peak time of season for Issaquah

This is not the same Issaquah team that Bothell beat 36-14 in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field in September.

When the teams meet Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. in Bothell’s Pop Keeney Stadium, the Eagles expect to more closely resemble the group that took out the Cougars (11-0) twice in 2008.

“We’re still alive,” said Issaquah coach Chris Bennett.

With a healthy Grant Gellatly in the backfield, the Eagles (8-3) are playing with the kind of confidence that allowed them to recover from an early 21-0 deficit against Jackson last week.

“It was definitely a crazy game, but I’m very proud of our kids for never wavering from the game plan,” Bennett said. “They were confident. Even down 21, it sounds silly, they were confident they could come back and win.”

To derail the Blue Train’s perfect season, the Eagles need to keep that confidence. Avoiding an early hole would go a long way toward making that happen.

Focus makes a difference for Spartans

When asked about Skyline’s 63-14 victory against South Kitsap Nov. 14, coach Mat Taylor made a point to praise the Wolves.

“South Kitsap’s a good team,” he said.

Then he went on to say the key to the Spartans’ early success was their ability to execute every play the coaching staff sent in.

The end result was a first half that saw Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps complete 20 of 27 passes for 303 yards and seven touchdowns.

“It was probably the best half of football, offensively, I have ever seen from the production, to the effort, to the execution, to the discipline,” Taylor said.

Here’s what Taylor had to say about Curtis, who the Spartans play Nov. 21 at 7 p.m. at Curtis in the 4A quarterfinals.

“They’ve got some studs. They’re just a good football team. They’re 11-0. They’re really big up front. On offense they’re got two really big backs. They’re got a quarterback that does a nice job and they’ve got a receiver (Rahmel Dockey) – he’s averaging like 30 yards a reception and he’s dynamite on special teams.”

Skyline guard signs with Cal Poly

Skyline High School senior Connor Gacek, a 6-foot-3 guard, has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for Cal Poly Pomona University. Gacek played well in summer tournaments and impressed Cal Poly coach Greg Kamansky,

“We think Connor’s best basketball is ahead of him,” Kamansky said. “His competitiveness and skill-set is a fit for our program. He can really shoot the ball and he passes well. He also comes from a well-coached program.”

Soccer teams aim for final

The Skyline and Issaquah high school girls soccer teams hope to meet Nov. 21 for the 4A state title in Lakewood’s Harry Lang Stadium.

However, both local teams have to win their Nov. 20 semifinals. Issaquah plays Kamiakin at 6 p.m., and Skyline meets Kentwood at 8 p.m.

Issaquah, the 4A KingCo Conference champions, and Kamiakin will showcase two of the state’s top players. Senior Kristen Maris, of Issaquah, led KingCo with 18 goals. Kamiakin is paced by Tori Skorpik, who has scored 14 goals and was selected as the Big Nine Conference co-player of the year.

Skyline faces a very stingy team in Kentwood. The Conquerors have posted 18 shutouts this season.

The semifinal winners meet for the title game at 4 p.m. Nov. 21 while the losers play for third and fourth place at noon.

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