The Olympian’s Class 2A state playoff games to watch in this weekend’s first round:
Franklin Pierce Cardinals (6-4) at No. 1 Tumwater Thunderbirds (10-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Tumwater District Stadium
About the Cardinals: They are in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011, and in search of their first quarterfinal berth in eight seasons. Franklin Pierce has shown a knack for winning close games late, with wins over Orting (42-37), Steilacoom (42-40) and Washington (34-31). Dual threat QB Willie Patterson (150 of 263, 2,859 yards, 35 TDs; 617 rushing yards) has to make up for plenty of defensive deficiencies for the Cardinals to have a chance to upset Tumwater.
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About the T-Birds: Coach Sid Otton’s group has advanced out of the first round in nine of its past 12 state appearances. And in each of the past three seasons, Tumwater has beaten an 2A SPSL school along the way. The T-Birds keep churning out rushing yards in the Wing-T offense (330.2 ypg), and have eight players with 100 yards or more — led by RBs Dominic Jones (74 rushes, 713 yards, 10 TDs) and Jarid Barrett (116 rushes, 704 yards, 16 TDs).
Winner: Hosts W.F. West-Squalicum winner in 2A quarterfinals.
The pick: Tumwater, 42-28.
No. 9 Black Hills Wolves (9-1) at No. 4 Archbishop Murphy Wildcats (10-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Goddard Stadium in Everett
About the Wolves: Maybe they have the formula to beat this impressive Archbishop Murphy machine. Expect coach Kirk Stevens to test the areas outside the hashes in the short passing game — led by QB Christian Williams (52 of 78, 1,285 yards, 16 TDs) and WR Mark Melendres (23 catches, 823 yards, 12 TDs), who can really exploit bigger, slower defensive backs.
About the Wildcats: They have been one of the true Wing-T juggernauts in the state — except that coach Jerry Jensen, in his third season, has inserted a few spread passing wrinkles. RB Kerry Jackson (110 rushes, 885 yards, 15 TDs) is an inside bruiser at 235 pounds, but it is junior Anfernee Gurley (140.8 all-purpose yards per game) who should demand the most attention — in all phases.
Winner: Travels to North Kitsap-River Ridge winner in 2A quarterfinals.
The pick: Archbishop Murphy, 35-27.
North Kitsap Vikings (7-3) at
No. 8 River Ridge Hawks (10-0)
7 p.m. Saturday, South Sound Stadium
About the Vikings: Can Jerry Parrish’s old program finally break through? The new coach is former North Kitsap defensive coordinator Jeff Weible — and the Vikings sure know how to play on that side of the football, led by LB Bob Evans (114 tackles). If Wing T-based North Kitsap scores 21 points, it feels good about its chances of winning a first state playoff game since 1996.
About the Hawks: All it took was watching one play for coach Steve Schultz to know where this game likely will be won — up front. Both schools’ offensive and defensive lines are big and powerful. C Caleb Price and RT Ben Retzlaf have consistently opened holes for RB Tre’vonne Dorfner (133 rushes, 1,111 yards, 11 TDs), who has filled in nicely for injured Gustavo Diaz.
Winner: Hosts Black Hills-Archbishop winner in the 2A quarterfinals.
The pick: River Ridge, 28-24.