Skyview stands in way of Skyline’s sixth title
November 29, 2011
By Bob Taylor
The Sky is definitely the limit.
Two high schools, both with “Sky” in their names, who opened the same year (1997), collide at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3 for the 4A state football championship in the Tacoma Dome.
Skyline’s Spartans (10-3) will be seeking a sixth state title. The Spartans have won a state title four times in the past five years. The Tacoma Dome has been like a second home field for the Spartans, who have won nine of their last 10 games in the stadium.
Skyview (11-2), located down in Vancouver, Wash., is making its first title appearance. The closest the Storm has ever come to the finals was in 2009 when it lost to Ferris, 46-41, in the semifinals.
Issaquah coach Chris Bennett has experience facing both teams this season. The Eagles lost to Skyline, 41-14, in a Sept. 23 KingCo Conference encounter and fell to Skyview, 47-17, Nov. 4 in a state tournament preliminary game.
Skyline vs. Skyview
“It should be a great game,” Bennett said. “Obviously, we have played Skyview more recently and we know they have a very talented team. Skyline has done some things differently from when we played them and is a better team now.”
Skyline and Skyview defeated previously undefeated teams in the Nov. 26 semifinals. Skyline downed KingCo Conference 4A rival Woodinville, 26-21, while Skyview crushed Lake Stevens, 38-14.
Both teams got off to slow starts this season but have been rolling in the playoffs.
The Spartans were 6-3 when they entered the postseason. Skyline has reeled off four straight victories and seems to have that championship form again.
Like the Spartans, Skyview suffered early defeats to powerful opponents. The Storm fell to Couer d’Alene, Idaho’s Class 6A state champion, and Sherwood, which plays in Oregon’s 5A state title game Dec. 3.
In the post season, the Storm have outscored opponents 161-55. Skyview dominated Lake Stevens, scoring touchdowns on five of its first seven drives.
Lake Stevens tried to take away Skyview’s Parker Henry, the Class 4A’s leading rusher. However, Storm quarterback Kieran McDonagh plucked the Lake Stevens’ secondary, hitting 22 of 31 passes for 339 yard and two touchdowns. He also ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns.
Issaquah had a similar experience. The Eagles were able to contain Henry for most of the game but were picked apart by McDonagh.
“Skyview has athletes and great skill guys. Henry is a big, physical runner. If you don’t dedicate enough people to stop him, he will hurt you. Their quarterback did a nice job against us. He found the open receivers,” Bennett said. “It’s kind of pick your poison when you play Skyview.”
The Storm also has one of the largest offensive lines in the state. Among the big guys up front are Matt Cruz, 6-foot-2, 280 pounds; Zach Wallace, 6-4, 305; and Dylan Bratlie, 6-5, 285.
“They were the best-looking team we’ve seen in warm-ups this year,” Bennett said. “Their linemen are big, but not the quickest. However, Skyview has a lot of weight and beef coming at you. They are a tough matchup for people.”
Bennett was also impressed with Skyview’s defense. In the game with Lake Stevens, the Storm had five sacks and forced three fumbles. Safety David Garlington had two interceptions.
“Their safeties are real good and real physical. Skyview has a lot of talent in its back seven,” Bennett said.
Although impressed with Skyview, Bennett said he likes Skyline’s chances in the title game.
“I think Skyline will have some great chances to put up points against Skyview,” Bennett said.
Bennett said he believes key players on offense for Skyline will be running back Damian Greene and quarterback Max Browne.
“Greene could be a huge factor. If he gets loose, he has the speed to go a long way,” Bennett said. “If Skyview commits too many people to the pass, it could really open the door for Greene to have a nice night running the football.”
Browne is having another sensational season, passing for 2,982 yards and 32 touchdowns.
“Just watching him the other night, he was so impressive,” Bennett said. “Browne has the ability to move around in the pocket and extend plays. He has great pocket presence. If teams don’t put pressure on him, he will pick them apart.
“He is a great leader and in a big game like this, he can really be a difference.”
Bob Taylor: 392-6434, ext. 236, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.