A diamond cut, and we talk pigskin on a Tuesday, profiling a pair of teams to watch in other states’ playoffs around the West

Good Tuesday morning. Something special on tap, but first, we have a little softball for you this morning. Mount Si High School’s Ginger Harris and her teammates from the Kirkland-based Northwest Lady Bandits 18U Pinder select team played two last night up in Everett against the Edmonds-based Pacific Fury.

The Fury swept the twinbill, taking the opener 5-2 before winning the nightcap on a walk-off 10-9. Harris played in both games for the Bandits, going 1-3 with a run in the opener then 2-2 with a double and two runs in the nightcap. Kayla Flores homered for NWLB in the nightcap as well, and drove in two runs.

They are 2-11-1 thus far this fall and will continue fall league play as conditions and restrictions allow.

Time now for some football.

No high school football in Washington this fall, but playoffs elsewhere. Who to watch?
We would be of course talking about playoffs here in Washington high school football this fall this week, and probably mentioning both Mount Si and Cedarcrest in that conversation. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to rear its ugly head all over our state, the decision was made way back in July to shift the football season to next spring. That said, players, coaches, parents and fans are, as you might imagine, increasingly desperate for at minimum a football fix, with playoffs taking place in other states around the western United States that are playing football this fall. So this morning, we take a look at a couple of teams from two different states that deserve the attention of Washington high school football fans as the playoffs elsewhere continue. We’ll focus on Sentinel High from Missoula, in Montana’s big-school playoffs, and Corner Canyon from suburban Salt Lake City, in Utah’s big school playoffs.

Sentinel (Montana): Sentinel, from Missoula, has been all season the top-ranked team in Montana’s “AA” big-school classification, and no wonder. The team finished an unbeaten 7-0 during the regular season, and it has been quite the dominant performance too – they haven’t allowed any points defensively since their game October 2, and the defense in total has allowed only 33 points all season.

The reason we talk about Sentinel, though, is one of their top players happens to have an Evergreen State connection. Camden Sirmon, who was the quarterback last fall at Wenatchee High School and who got to play Mount Si in the Panthers’ 2019 season opener, was one of several Washington players to transfer this summer in the wake of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s decision to move football to next spring in our state. Sirmon made his way over to Big Sky country and has meshed in well with Sentinel’s attack. He is part of a two-QB system there with the Spartans, teaming with fellow senior Dayton Bay. The two of them have combined to throw for over 1,300 yards this season and 19 touchdowns, and Sirmon himself is the team leader in rushing, running the ball nearly 60 times this fall for just under 600 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.

The receiving attack is balanced, led by senior T.J. Rausch, who’s caught the ball 26 times for just under 350 yards and five scores, leading a unit that has amassed almost 1,500 yards this season as a team. The ground game is similarly set up, with rushers amassing around that 1,500 yard mark on the season, most of it thanks to Sirmon and fellow senior RB Soren Syvrud, who’s run for a little over 400 yards this fall on 57 carries scoring four TD’s.

The defense, as we’ve told you, is tough stuff, and leading that effort are senior Geno Leonard and junior Zac Crews, both of whom have 10 tackles for loss each, so opposing offenses will have their hands full with Leonard, a linebacker, and Crews, a defensive back, during this playoff run.

Sentinel this week hosts Great Falls, who comes in off a win to open the playoffs last week but this week gets stuck with a long bus ride west to Missoula, playing a team in the Spartans who had last week off with a first-round bye in the playoff bracket. So fresh legs may be a factor in this one for Sentinel, but overall depth and skill level should serve the Spartans well as they are considered to be a favorite to win Montana’s “AA” title.

Corner Canyon (Utah): The boys from suburban Salt Lake City are undefeated at 11-0 and last week blasted an area rival from suburban Salt Lake, Westlake, to advance in the Utah big-school “6A” playoffs. They are ranked in the top five nationally, and this team is plenty loaded and plenty deep. We’ve followed these guys fairly closely as we have been monitoring Utah’s high school sports restart this fall for clues about things they’re doing that could be copied here in Washington for our scheduled restart after the first of the new year, although with the case counts going up and schools having to delay their re-openings for in-person learning, that restart could be delayed.

It all starts under center. QB Jaxson Dart is the real deal. He transferred to the school this fall – from a nearby Salt Lake-area high school – and the move has paid tremendous dividends. Dart has thrown for over 3,700 yards this fall and over 50 touchdowns, five of those which came last week as part of a 400-yard plus throwing effort in the Chargers 59-3 playoff opening rout of Westlake, that area rival we mentioned in the opening of this. The guy has an arm and he also is very mobile – he’s run for almost 1,000 yards this fall and nine additional touchdowns on the ground. All of this has earned him a lot of attention this fall – and a number of NCAA Division I college scholarship offers.

Dart’s got a deep corps of receivers to choose from. Senior Noah Kjar has caught 82 passes for almost 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns and leads the group, but the receiver room is four deep primarily, with senior Talmadge Handley (28 catches, 631 yards, 11 TD’s this fall) and juniors Cody Hagen (38 catches, 878 yards, 15 TD’s) and Jett Meine (20 catches, 374 yards, six touchdowns) all providing reliable options for Dart to throw to offensively this season. But the ground game isn’t simply Dart’s thing either. Junior RB Dylan Carlsen has run the ball 60 times for just over 400 yards and two touchdowns, but do not count this kid out in the event he is needed to step up and deliver.

Corner this week plays Bingham. These two Salt Lake-area rivals played earlier this season on national TV, and Dart went 16-23 for a modest 279 yards (modest considering he’s had several games this fall where’s he’s passed for over 400 yards) and six TD’s in a 42-20 Charger win that put him on the national radar, so much so most of the higher-profile D-I offers he has received, including to Pac-12 schools USC and Arizona State, came following that appearance.

The team defensively is also quite strong, led by junior linebacker Harrison Taggart, and senior lineman Jackson Light. Taggart’s got over 100 total tackles this season and Light, who is an Oregon commit and a key part of the team’s offensive line, like Taggart has several tackles for loss.

Corner has had a couple of close shaves in recent games, rallying for a hard-fought 29-26 win over league rival Skyridge, from Lehi, October 8 in a game where the Chargers trailed for much of the early portion of it, then October 14 having to outlast another league rival, American Fork, winning a wild 51-34 affair. Those close shaves, and the week off between those two games and last week’s playoff game, likely has served the team well, as it required them to refocus their energy on the prize at hand which is a state title, and one that, in light of the COVID distractions surrounding their school, led by the recent battle of one of their teachers with the virus that landed her a two-week stay in a local hospital with most of it on a ventilator, would certainly be well-earned.

Corner’s football team has made a national name for themselves, and when you see these guys up close, Washington fans might leave asking themselves – how would our teams fare against this group? Perhaps in the future, that question can be answered, because as you’ll see if you watch, this team could fare well with the best our state has to offer.

Both of these teams’ next playoff games are this weekend. Corner’s is Friday afteroon at 3:00 our time and can be seen at live.ksl.com and Sentinel’s is to be determined and will be accessible if you have a subscription to the NFHS Network.

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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