More on tonight’s Mount Si football playoff clash with Monroe, and our final thoughts

Time now to continue our discussion from Wednesday on tonight’s big Mount Si playoff football game against Monroe and offer our last word.

KINGCO 4A FOOTBALL
WIAA 4A PLAYOFFS OPENING ROUND – LOSER OUT
MOUNT SI WILDCATS AT MONROE BEARCATS
MONROE HIGH SCHOOL, KICKOFF 7:00 P.M.

On Wednesday, we talked about the players to watch on the Bearcats. Today, we look at Mount Si’s keys to success, and they remain the same as they’ve been all season.

We’ll start first under center. Junior quarterback Cale Millen had another strong game last week for the Wildcats, completing 11 of 19 pass attempts for 244 yards, four touchdowns and an interception in Mount Si’s 45-34 win over Newport that wrapped up the Kingco 4A regular season for the Wildcats. Millen has been among the top QB’s on the Eastside this season, and his efforts last week moved him past 2,500 yards on the season through the air; he’s now 188-274 for 2,548 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air.

As we discussed on Wednesday, Millen, like his counterpart on the Monroe side Jaedyn Prewitt, has multiple options to throw to, and all three of them were factors. Senior Jesiah Irish caught two passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, which came on an 81-yard reception, in last week’s game. Irish, who cleared the 700-yard plateau in receiving yardage with last Friday’s performance, now has 38 catches on the season for 709 yards, and as we mentioned on Wednesday, we would look for him to see a lot of Monroe’s star sophomore wideout Efton Chism III. So how does Irish stack up defensively?

He had 15 total tackles last week, seven solos, and this season has 33 tackles and three interceptions, returning those picks a total of 131 yards. But Chism? His defensive numbers aren’t nearly as good, as he’s got just 24 tackles on the season and only one pick, which he did not return for any yards. That said, we’d look for this matchup to be a doozy in any event. And remember this. Both guys handle kick and punt returns, and as we told you Wednesday, Chism did much of his damage in their loss last week to Lake Stevens in this department – a 70-yard kick return that headlined a 200-plus yard overall effort on special teams for the Bearcat star. Irish himself has nearly 200 yards in return yardage on the season as well.

Also factoring in offensively for Millen were juniors Jonny Barrett and Andrew Mostofi. Mostofi caught two passes for 45 yards and two touchdowns, while Barrett, without scoring any himself, caught five balls for 83 yards, helping him clear the 1,000-yard receiving plateau on the season. Chism and other Monroe defensive backs will have their hands full with Barrett, so a key will be making sure Millen spreads out the load evenly among his three receivers, keeping that Bearcat secondary on its toes.

On the ground, Mount Si had more success with that than they had in games the previous few weeks. Paine Smith carried the ball 10 times for 89 yards and a touchdown, while fellow sophomore Colby Botten ran it nine times for 78 yards. It will be important for the Wildcats to establish a running game so their passing game can work at its best.

Defensively, in addition to Irish, a couple of players to keep an eye on include Smith and senior Tank Brewster. Each had a sack last week in the win over the Knights, and Brewster is leading the team in that category, with six on the season among a total of 23 the Wildcats have delivered in 2017. Brewster this week received an offer to play college football for Lindenwood University, an NCAA Division II school located in suburban St. Louis. The senior certainly has the numbers to prove it too – he’s got 50 tackles on the season, averaging over eight a contest (he’s played in six of them) with those six sacks. Also a kid to watch is senior Kyle Fraser, with 76 total tackles on the season and two tackles for loss including one sack. This Mount Si defense will need to play tough and play inspired for their teammate Collin Fleisch, who as you know if you were there last Friday was injured and is not expected to play this week. How Mount Si responds to his absence will also be worth watching.

An area we want to focus on as well with Monroe is on their defense. We, of course, talked about their leader in that department, senior Ricky Baker, on Thursday, and just mentioned some numbers on Chism. But this Bearcat team has quite a few other defensive players to keep an eye on. A couple in particular are senior Josh Jerome and sophomore Blake Rybar. Jerome had just five tackles last week in the loss to Lake Stevens, but is among the team leaders in total tackles with 65, and also has six sacks on the season and three recovered fumbles. Rybar’s contribution was more modest, just one tackle last week, but he has 44 on the season, with five sacks, also among the team leaders there. While Rybar may not see a lot of action tonight depending on how things go, as a secondary option for them most likely he’ll be a presence for sure.

At the end of the day, we mentioned this on Wednesday as well, and we’ll mention it again here. Based on our observations of the two teams – both in person and watching Monroe film clips this week – and having a look at their numbers, these squads seem to have a striking resemblance to one another. So this game we expect will be decided on individual matchups, and we’ve noted a number of them in our discussion this week. We also expect this game to potentially be a shootout similar to last week’s Mount Si game or this past weekend’s instant pro classic with the Seahawks and Houston Texas. We look for both teams to leave it all on the field. We should add here that the winner of this game will meet the winner of tonight’s Auburn Mountainview-Puyallup opening round game next week down south, either at Auburn High School or Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.

We also have noted Mount Si’s 8-0 record in these opening round playoff games since the opening round of 32 was implemented back in 2006. Most of those games have been won in dominating fashion, but as you all know, the last time they played in an opening round playoff, against Jefferson two years ago, came down to the wire and the kicking leg of Mount Si’s Reed Paradissis, as his late field goal helped the Wildcats escape with the victory in that game. We think it’s going to come down to the final plays again this year. Unfortunately, though, we think Monroe has just too much in the cupboard for Mount Si this time around. We like Monroe, and by the slightest of margins. That said, though, this is going to be anybody’s game, so if you can get up there tonight, the seven bucks you spend on admission will be well worth the investment.

MONROE 35, MOUNT SI 34

Last week: 2-1 (Mount Si def. Newport, Archbishop Murphy def. Cedarcrest, both correctly picked by us; Lake Stevens def. Monroe; we picked Monroe)
Total: 13-6

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman’s coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.

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