IT’S PLAYOFF TIME!

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The Steilacoom Sentinels were looking to push their undefeated record to 9-0 and grab the 2A South Puget Sound League championship trophy on Friday, Oct. 26. A big second half by the Fife Trojans dashed these hopes. Fife claimed the title with a 28-16 victory. (above) Fife sophomore Malakai Samuelu (#6) and senior Lupeti Sarte put the squeeze on Steilacoom senior Jaymason Willingham. Fife was powered by three rushing touchdowns from senior quarterback Gannon Ginnis. Photo by Rocky Ross

Some folks get that warm, fuzzy feeling when the Christmas season begins around the Puget Sound. For others, that sensation begins even earlier when the high school state football playoffs begin. If you’re one of those folks, your bit of sunshine has finally arrived.

The Tacoma area is well-represented in the various state playoffs with local squads in the 4A, 3A and 2A ready to do battle beginning on Friday, Nov. 2. It’s win or lose time for these teams, as a victory will push them into the round of 16 state tournament, and a loss will mark the end of a three-month trek of blood, sweat and tears.

Could this be the year when a local team puts it all together and returns to the play in the Tacoma Dome  for all the marbles? Anything’s possible when it comes down to a single game. Perhaps the usual upsets that occur during the post-season will finally fall in the favor of a Tacoma squad.

The 4A field has one heck of a local challenger in the 4A South Puget Sound League champions from Puyallup High School. The Vikings rolled to an impressive 8-1 regular-season record, with their only defeat being a tough 38-31 road loss to the top-ranked Union Titans. Puyallup will host Kennedy Catholic (5-3) on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m.. The Curtis Vikings and Rogers Rams will also join Puyallup in the post-season. The Rams (5-4) have a tough one on the road against powerhouse Mount Si (8-1) on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 1 p.m. Curtis (6-3) will visit Kentwood (4-5) on Saturday, Nov. 3, at 6 p.m.

Lakes and Lincoln will both host first-round playoff games after finishing one-two in the 3A Pierce County League. The Lancers (7-2) will host Roosevelt (5-4) at Harry Lang Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m., while the Abes (7-2) will welcome Prairie (5-4) to historic Lincoln Bowl at the same time. Bethel will have its hands full when it hits the road to play Arlington (7-2). Tacoma will again be represented in the post-season by the surprising Wilson Rams (5-4). The boys from the west side will be looking to pull off the upset of the weekend when they travel north to play defending 3A state champion O’Dea (7-1). The teams will grapple at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m.

From the 3A South Sound Conference, Peninsula Seahawks (7-2) will host what appears to be an overmatched Seattle Prep (4-5) squad at Roy Anderson Field on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 :30 p.m. Following a third-place league finish, the Yelm Tornados will travel north to face a strong Bishop Blanchet (5-3) team the same night.

After running the table in the regular season in the 2A South Puget Sound League, the Steilacoom Sentinels were one half of football away from winning the overall league crown against Fife on Friday, Oct. 26. Playing in front of a rambunctious crowd at Blair Taylor Athletic Field in Steilacoom, the Sentinels lost their momentum in the second half, as the Trojans hit the gas pedal on their way to a 28-16 victory. The win gave Fife an opening-round home game against Port Angeles (3-6) on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m. At the same time, Steilacoom will host an Orting team that they already hammered by a score of 44-14 in week two of the season.

Two teams that are even closer to Tacoma, will be taking their game on the road. Franklin Pierce (5-4)

will travel to Silverdale to play a talented group from Sequim (8-1). Meanwhile, the Washington Patriots (5-4) will pay a visit to White River (6-3) for a big rematch. The two teams faced each other in week three, with White River squeaking out a 10-6 win over Washington. Both games are on Friday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m.

Cascade Christian sits atop the 1A Nisqually League standings with one regular season game remaining. Should the Cougars (6-1) beat Pt. Townsend (3-5) on Saturday, Nov. 3, the boys from Puyallup will punch their ticket into the round of 16.

The 1B playoff field will include two Tacoma teams. The Tacoma Baptist Crusaders (5-4) look to ride their current momentum into the state tournament, which is actually the round of eight for the eight-man football division. Since losing to 1B Sea-Tac champion Quilcene in week five, the Crusaders have rattled off four wins in a row. Over this run, Tacoma Baptist has scored a total of 262 points, while yielding just 60. Tacoma Baptist will host Oakville (3-5) on Saturday, Nov. 3, at Harry Lang Stadium at 7 p.m. A win would deliver a road match-up the following weekend with a Neah Bay (4-5) team that looks beatable this season. The winner will advance to state.

Evergreen Lutheran (2-6) will travel north to face Darrington (2-7) on Friday, Nov. 2. A win would set up a road trip the following weekend against a Quilcene (9-0) team that looks like it may be the favorite to win the state championship.

The state tournament brackets will be seeded using a tournament committee this season. After years of seeing the usual match-ups to open the round of 16, this should prove to be an exciting month of championship football.

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