There are no mulligans in the loser-out world of the Washington prep football state finals.
But sometimes there are rematches.
Few teams are more eager for a second chance than the Napavine Tigers, who will get one Saturday at the Tacoma Dome against the defending 2B state champion Okanogan Bulldogs.
The teams met in the final last season, with Okanogan jumping to a 17-0 lead and holding on for the trophy, 17-14.
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“We always look forward to playing the best teams,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “I think we get another chance to play the best team again this week, and it happens to be a team we kind of would like to play against.”
The Tigers don’t believe they put their best foot forward in the 2014 championship. In addition to tumbling into that 17-point hole, Napavine lost three fumbles, threw two interceptions and missed three field-goal attempts from 31 yards or closer.
“We definitely didn’t make our own breaks and had some things go against us that impacted the outcome of the game,” Fay said.
The Tigers saved their most painful error for last, when they got the ball near midfield with just over a minute left and a chance to put things right.
However, that drive also ended with a fumble — this one by quarterback Wyatt Stanley, who returns to Tacoma for another shot.
“He definitely took it hard,” Fay said. “His teammates were quick to let him know that he certainly was not the reason for our failures in that game. They did a good job to rally around him. He is a true competitor, so there is no doubt in my mind he would like nothing more than to get it done this weekend.”
Class 2B state final
No. 3 Okanogan (12-1) vs. No. 6 Napavine (11-2)
4 p.m. Saturday, Tacoma Dome
Coaches: Erick Judd is in his fifth season at Okanogan (45-12 record). Josh Fay is in his ninth season at Napavine (89-21 record).
Road to Gridiron Classic: Okanogan beat Davenport in the first round (52-7), Lind-Ritzville-Sprague in the quarterfinals (35-28) and Northwest Christian of Colbert in the semifinals (37-10). Napavine beat North Beach in the first round (20-14), Liberty of Spangle in the quarterfinals (34-7) and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in the semifinals (29-13).
About the Bulldogs: The defending state champions are a much different team this season. For starters, QB Clay Ashworth (71 of 122, 1,135 yards, 18 TDs) won’t miss this game because of injury. He gives the pistol Wing-T attack much needed diversity. The defense will disguise both pressure and coverage schemes a lot more than last season.
About the Tigers: The road has not been as easy as last season. Big-armed QB Wyatt Stanley (109 of 193, 1,825 yards, 21 TDs) missed nearly four games with a hip injury. He is back and at full strength, feeding WR Mac Fagerness (46 catches, 889 yards, 11 TDs) and a talented pass-catching corps. Six starters graduated from the defensive front from a year ago, but Napavine is still rich in skill-position depth.
TNT pick: Okanogan, 23-21.