While many of the faces have changed from last year’s Tacoma Weekly All-City Team, the journey of each Tacoma high school football team looked rather similar this season. While no gridiron squad will be playing for a state championship trophy at the Tacoma Dome, yet again, the folks around Tacoma were blessed with some exciting and quality football for a few months.
Tacoma has sent several teams to the playoffs in recent years, and it’s no mystery as to who has been the top dog around Grit City during this stretch. Lincoln head coach Masaki Matsumoto inherited a program on the rise after Jon Kitna left for the Lone Star State. Many wondered about where the chips were going to fall with a new boss on the job.
When Lincoln captured the 3A Pierce County League championship this season, it was their fourth outright title in a row, and the third for a Matsumoto squad. The Abes have made the state tournament field of 16 in each of his seasons, while amassing an impressive 28-6 record overall.
Every year, Lincoln graduates a bevy of stud football players. Many of them have headed off to play at the collegiate level. After losing some of the best talent Tacoma has seen in a long time, it’s been fairly logical to think that the Lincoln football program may take a dip the following season.
That has yet to happen under Matsumoto, and with the young talent on this year’s team, it’s a safe bet that they’ll be the favorite to take a fifth consecutive title next fall.
The Abes’ two losses this season were at the hands of O’Dea by two points in the season opener, and Garfield by a last second field goal in the state quarterfinals. O’Dea will be playing for the 3A state championship at the Tacoma Dome on Friday, Dec.1. The Abes are no longer “getting close” to the upper-echelon of 3A football. They are considered part of the club now.
After losing some exceptional talent from last season, the Stadium Tigers looked to ride a bit of that positive energy that came with a first-ever appearance in the state playoffs. By mid-season, the Tigers were sitting at 4-1 and the season finale against the Abes was looking like it could be a matchup for all the marbles. Instead, the Tigers suffered three straight heartbreakers which derailed any league title talk.
However, the Tigers were able to keep their claws on the fourth spot in the standings and earned the school’s second state playoff berth in the modern era. The Tigers would fall to powerhouse Timberline in their playoff opener.
Bellarmine fielded a team that was better than their 6-4 final record. The 4A South Puget Sound League was an absolute beast. With Puyallup, Graham-Kapowsin and Sumner leading the way, the race for the fourth, and final, playoff spot came down to the final night of the regular season. The Lions would have to pull off an upset over a Puyallup squad that had already sewn up the league title. An early-season 28-21 loss to Olympia made the game a do-or-die situation for Bellarmine. In the end, the Lions had the ball, but ran out of time on the scoreboard, falling 35-28.
There was one other state tournament team out of the City of Destiny, and it was the smallest of the bunch. Tacoma Baptist, playing in their second season at the 1B (8-man) level, was trying to rekindle the spark that led them to an undefeated regular season last year. It would prove more difficult, as the Crusaders were playing under first-year coach Steve Stone, and missing some big time contributors from last season.
At midseason, the Crusaders sat at 3-3, including a forfeit win. By season’s end, they had found their groove and entered the playoffs hitting on all cylinders. After suffering a 58-28 defeat to eventual league champion Quilcene a month prior, the Crusaders met the undefeated Rangers in the round of 16 and pulled off a huge 54-38 upset. The Crusaders would eventually fall to Lummi Nation in the quarterfinals 62-42.
Now, let’s take a look at our All-City team selection process.
The majority of all-star teams have first-team, second-team and honorable-mention selections. We do it differently here at your Tacoma Weekly.
We’ve found that there are usually too many players named to a second team that are just as deserving of a first-team reward. However, in reality there is only so many slots available to fill.
We feel that our process is much better and altogether a fair shake for the athletes who have worked so hard for their respective teams.
The Tacoma Weekly gathers together the best of the best from the 4A SPSL, 3A PCL, 2A SPSL, 2B Pacific and 1B Sea-Tac Leagues. All of the first, second and honorable-mention selections are put into a draft pool and then we select one player, back and forth, for each All-City team. Our result is two teams of all-stars made up of the best football players the City of Destiny had to offer this season.
We’ve also decided to continue naming the teams the Grit City Grinders and the Commencement Bay Blitz, since they capture the local flavor. We’re pretty sure that if the two teams were to face one another on the gridiron, it would be a battle for the ages.
GRIT CITY GRINDERS
QB HUNTER WENDLING. STADIUM SR.
QB PJ TALEN TAC. BAPTIST SR.
RB TRISTIAN KWON LINCOLN SR.
RB DERRION SUMMERS BELLARMINE SO.
WR XAVIER MASON STADIUM JR.
WR JULIEN SIMON LINCOLN FR.
WR CHE ROGERS STADIUM SR.
TE SILOI TUIALUULUU MT. TAHOMA SR.
OL GIOVONNI WHITE. LINCOLN. JR.
OL JOSH HANIGAN BELLARMINE SR.
OL EZEKIEL SAYAVONG LINCOLN SR.
OL DANIEL TAUAESE STADIUM JR.
OL THOMAS JACOBS WILSON JR.
OL FIA MAUTATIA LINCOLN SR.
K PAUL HURT WILSON SR.
DL DANIEL TAUAESE STADIUM JR.
DL JAYDEN SIMON LINCOLN JR.
DL JOSIAH VAIOLO WILSON SR.
DL JORDAN UBALDO MT. TAHOMA SR.
LB ALEX GILLIES LINCOLN SR.
LB RICKY MULIFI WILSON SR.
LB JOEL SOURICHANH STADIUM JR.
DB CHRISTIAN BROWN BELLARMINE SR.
DB KAVON HOLDEN LINCOLN SR.
DB DAVION GAINES STADIUM JR.
DB MOSE FASAVALU LINCOLN SR.
COMMENCEMENT BAY BLITZ
QB JAYLEN ANTOINE LINCOLN SR.
QB CADEN FILER LINCOLN SO.
RB NAZJE BRISCOE STADIUM JR.
RB AUSTIN MOEUNG LINCOLN SR.
WR NICK GOSS LINCOLN SR.
WR CHRISTIAN BROWN BELLARMINE SR.
WR KOFI GOSEER HENRY FOSS SR.
TE SAM BEHNKE BELLARMINE SR.
OL GIOVONNI WHITE LINCOLN SR.
OL BAILEY ELDER STADIUM JR.
OL JAYDEN SIMON LINCOLN JR.
OL CAMERON JACKSON MT. TAHOMA SR.
OL ELUID KARIUKI WILSON SR.
K GABRIEL FOSTER LINCOLN JR.
DL CHASE CHANDLER BELLARMINE SR.
DL EZEKIEL SAYAVONG LINCOLN SR.
DL CALEB HOWARD WILSON SR.
LB TESHAWN SEU LINCOLN SR.
LB NIULAVA MOEGU MT. TAHOMA SR.
LB TIM JENSEN BELLARMINE JR.
LB ISAIAH SALEVAO LINCOLN SR.
DB DEMETRIUS CROSBY HENRY FOSS SR.
DB TRISTIAN KWON LINCOLN SR.
DB CHE ROGERS STADIUM SR.
DB JORDAN ROBBINS WILSON SR.