The pigskin previews and picks….week six! Homecoming for ‘Cats, a big road test for ‘Wolves…’s the skinny right here, right now!

We have a lot on the plate for you this Friday morning. First, though, our week six, yes, week six Valley high school football previews and picks. Big games for both teams tonight. Mount Si is hosting Homecoming tonight while CHS has a big roadie tonight up in Bellingham. We went 2-0 again last week with correct predicitions of a CHS win and a MSHS loss, so we’re now a staggering 9-1 on the year! 7:00 kicks for both.

Mount Si Wildcats vs. Issaquah Eagles, Mount Si HS – It’s Homecoming week tonight, and the Wildcats will look to get back on the winning track tonight in front of what’s expected to be a large crowd of students, families and alums – including this one (Class of 1997) – a lot of whom may be visiting the new Mount Si campus for the first time.

Mount Si is 3-2 and will be looking to break a two-game losing streak; they fell last Friday at Eastlake 24-18. Junior QB Clay Millen went 15-26 for 211 yards and a touchdown in the game against the Wolves and has thrown for over 1,100 yards on the season. He’s got a pair of Pac-12 offers – to Oregon and Arizona – and that list will only grow in the coming weeks and months ahead.

The ground game has been a weak spot for Mount Si this year, but the young man who led it last year returned last week. Cole Norah ran the ball four times for 11 yards, and should be expected to see a lot of that work tonight. As you all remember, the junior emerged last year as a solid option on the ground, and the running back should have a good opportunity to do some things tonight. Also watch fellow junior Lorenzo Beverly, who despite only two yards on the ground in the loss last Friday has over 100 rushing yards this season.

Millen and the receivers are clicking and it is a four-headed monster led by seniors Colby Botten and Brayden Holt, and supported by juniors Kevin Corder and Zach Soliday. The four of them have a combined 1,000-plus yards receiving, and have shared the touchdown load fairly equally, with Corder holding down the lead in that department with three scores, including one in the game last Friday.

The Eagles come in at 3-2, but if you look at the numbers close, you’ll see a team that has certainly had to work hard for the mark.

Issy comes into tonight off a low-scoring 7-6 win over Newport last Friday, and in the four games since their 20-0 season-opening win over Kent-Meridian, they’ve scored a total of 28 points. So the offense has very much struggled, and the numbers show it. Under center tonight for the Eagles is junior Keagan Barnwell. He has been held the last two weeks to just 63 yards in the air after three solid weeks to start the season in which he was averaging around 130-140 yards a contest. So Barnwell, against a very tough Mount Si defense, will look to get back to earlier season form tonight.

Senior Isaac Pak leads the Eagles’ ground attack; the running back ran 24 times last Friday for 55 yards, a modest number which put him close to 300 on the season on the ground. Fellow senior Jack Githens leads Issy’s receivers, but is coming off a season low four-catch, 20 yard effort in the game against Eastlake; he did not play last week. So if he plays tonight, Mount Si’s secondary will be watching him. Two others to watch on the receiving side are senior Stoss Hanssen and sophomore Tanner Geraci, both of whom have over 100 yards each on the season.

But at the end of the day, the numbers are not lying – this Issy team is struggling to find an offensive footing, and is going to have a big challenge dealing with Mount Si tonight.

The Wildcats we expect will be playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder, after two straight losses which likely have eliminated them from the Kingco title picture. They’re going to, in front of their friends and family on Homecoming, want to come out and prove to folks they are the strong team they are despite the record. And the truth is, they are better than their 3-2 record states.

We had a good Twitter conversation with high school rankings analyst Matt Evans this week. Evans, as a lot of you may know, runs the “Evans Rankings” computer rankings for state high school football, and among the factors he uses in his rankings is strength of schedule. He tells us that his computers show Mount Si’s schedule being the toughest in the state by far thus far this season in 4A, and frankly that in all of high school football in Washington. So, the Wildcats at 3-2 and only losing these past two games by a combined 10 points, they definitely are a better team that it may look on paper.

With that all said, if they keep the normal Homecoming distractions out of the way, and get out of the gate early making Issaquah have to play catchup right away, this is going to be a good night for scarlet and gray. We like the Wildcats tonight, and we hope all of you MSHS students have a safe weekend out there, and remember the message your principal gave you on video this week at the homecoming assembly. Make good choices, and don’t put yourselves in situations that you’ll regret later. Mount Si 34, Issaquah 7

Cedarcrest Red Wolves at Sehome Mariners, Civic Stadium, Bellingham (KGMI-AM radio, listen here): Normally, you’d think the Mount Si game, being Homecoming, would be the main course. Well, because of the major playoff implications for Cedarcrest in this game tonight, implications that could have a long-term impact for this program, their game becomes the main course this week.

The Red Wolves come in at 4-1 on the season. 4-1. And yes, that record is better at this point than Mount Si’s 3-2, and this is with fewer players on the roster and in general not as much depth at a lot of skill positions compared to their upper Valley brethren. CHS has accomplished an awful lot in their first five games under John Fiala, and the new coach and his players have earned themselves a big exam tonight against a Mariners team looking for a nice division win as well.

And why is this game such a big exam? Well, Cedarcrest right now against teams in the division and Kingco 2A that comprise the computer RPI rankings the Northwest District will use to determine playoff seedings out of the Lake Division is 2-1. A win tonight and they’d be the first to three wins against this group of teams, and that could become especially important later on down the line.

Cedarcrest beat Renton last week 28-7 and QB Cameron Kohlruss was delivering again last week. 13-23 for 207 yards and three touchdowns for the senior, who’s thrown for nearly 500 yards in the past two weeks alone as the Red Wolves have won three straight. He just needs to continue to do the things that have made him successful the past two weeks, and recognize that it was just two weeks ago he was on this same Civic Stadium turf leading the Red Wolves to a comeback that may end up defining this season for Cedarcrest, that big one in the fourth from down 11 points to beat Bellingham. So those memories should be fresh and hopefully he’ll find that same magic tonight.

Jeremy McCarley led the Red Wolves’ ground game last week, running the ball 16 times for 82 yards. With fellow back Sean Shannon’s success earlier this season, it’s likely you’re going to see multiple options there on the ground, and Fiala’s clearly not going to be afraid to use the guys that give his team the best chance to win. So, both of the backs should get plenty of looks tonight.

The receiving was balanced as well last week, paced by Cody Hulse’s two touchdown catches for 42 yards – his only catches of the game. Kohlruss distributed the ball fairly evenly among the top wideouts, as Nathan Gerde, Andy Kevin and Dawson Cairns also had multiple receptions, and two others also caught a pass each.

The hallmark of this team it would seem is, well, it’s a TEAM. Everyone gets a chance to contribute, everyone gets a chance to succeed. And with the confidence of this program at its highest its been in perhaps a couple of years, there’s really nowhere to go but to continue to go up. And up. And up. And yes, Sehome is a NWC team from Whatcom County, and Whatcom squads are tough customers. Bellingham being the most recent example, of course, but that fourth quarter in the game two weeks ago perhaps also saw the maturing of this Cedarcrest program into a program that can compete against the best the north offers. And with the players from CHS having played their junior football against teams repping Kingco high schools, there really is no reason in our view why this program can’t compete against that solid competition week in and week out.

As for Sehome, they are 3-2 as well. QB Wyatt Coleman, a senior, leads the Mariners. We don’t know an awful lot about Sehome outside of this, but they are, as we just noted, a team from the Northwest Conference, and you know what we just said about them.

So with all this said, we refer back to our comment about team play and about how this program can and should be able to compete with the tough teams from Whatcom. And this Mariner team is a quality foe for sure, with one of their wins coming against a Kingco squad in Mercer Island in their place on the island. At the end of the day, though, tonight will be another defining moment for this CHS program, a program that we expect is in for a multi-year rebuild under Fiala, because it’s more than about upping the win totals, it’s about growing the program numbers-wise and giving Red Wolve junior players a reason to play for CHS at the high school level as opposed to going elsewhere or not playing at all. Getting this team to the playoffs and making a deep run in them will go a long way towards helping acheive those longer-term goals. Winning tonight gets them on the way to acheiving that first step. Cedarcrest 23, Sehome 20

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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