Skip to main content

Bracket Breakdown: WIAA 1A state football tournament quarterfinal previews, stat leaders, game picks

Freeman has won three road state playoff games over the past two seasons - and has another opportunity against 1A Northeast rival Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls

Ben Cochran really only asks two things of his players in August when training camp begins for the Freeman Scotties' football team.

“Love each other, love the game,” Cochran said. “When they do that, they don’t play scared. They don’t play hesitant.”


And when the postseason comes along and, as they’ve been the past two seasons, the Scotties are seeded in the second half of the bracket (they’re No. 10 this season), the philosophy keeps the focus off an perceived disadvantage of having to always go on the road.

A year ago, Freeman won two road games to make the WIAA semifinals. losing to eventual champion Royal.

This season, the Scotties have already beaten another higher seed - No. 7 Montesano - which was unbeaten going into the first-round game. This weekend, they travel back to league rival and also unbeaten Lakeside of Nile Mile Falls, the tournament's No. 2 seed.

“We love it,” Cochran said. “Our last team dinner of every regular season I ask the seniors to stand up and talk about what they like the most about the season. All they talked about this year was going on these trips. These games. This team plays for each other, not the stats.”

It was that way back in September when Freeman and Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls played in the league, a game won by the Eagles.

“We were ahead at halftime,” Cochran said. “Then we got the Hiro (Patterson) show in the second half. We have to contain that guy. They’re a very good team and we know they’ll bring it. But we will, too.”

The Scotties' outlook plays right into the three things Cochran said he hopes to accomplish every year at Freeman by instilling those things into his players – resilience, relationships and servanthood.

“Bad things are going to happen in life,” said Cochran, who was a player on Pacific Lutheran University's NCAA Division III-winning team in 1999. “How do you deal with those. You can’t give up. This life is not all about you.”

Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual performers, outlook and score predictions of this weekend’s 2023 WIAA Class 1A football quarterfinal matchups.



Nooksack Valley football 2022

7 p.m. Friday at Civic Stadium, Bellingham

Statistical leaders: For Nooksack Valley – QB Joey Brown (67-96, 1,183 yards, 13 TDs; 53 carries, 391 yards, eight TDs), RB Colton Lentz (118 carries, 1,209 yards, 22 TDs), RB Skyler Whittern (87 carries, 1,053 yards, 14 TDs), WR Cory Olney (21 catches, 401 yards, five TDs) and WR Jackson Bennett (19 catches, 472 yards, five TDs). For Lynden Christian – QB Jeremiah Wright (109-193, 1,275 yards, 13 TDs), RB Hollis Owen (132 carries, 612 yards, eight TDs), WR Dawson Bouma (29 catches, 485 yards, five TDs), TE Kayden Stuit (34 catches, 556 yards, nine TDs), and DL Stuit (84.5 tackles) and LB Trey Bosman (76.5 tackles, four INTs).

What to watch for: Buckle up for Round 2. These teams met back Oct. 6 and played a close game - a 21-20 Lynden Christian victory, giving the Lyncs the better seed and thus a home game for this state quarterfinal. Both teams put up big totals in the first round against double-digit seeds, but don’t look for that much scoring here. This is a much closer matchup and both defenses can get stops. It took a Stuit touchdown in the final minute to decide the first matchup between these Northwest League rivals, so be ready for a similar war for a state semifinal berth.

Pick: Nooksack Valley, 23-20.



Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls football

7 p.m. Friday at Union Stadium, Spokane

Statistical leaders: For Freeman – QB Luke Whitaker (133-219, 2,044 yards, 29 TDs), RB Kanoa Rogan (142 carries, 724 yards, six TDs; 36 catches, 481 yards, seven TDs), WR Sage Gilbert (30 catches, 590 yards, nine TDs), and LB Cody Cayce (125 tackles, INT, six TFL). For Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls – QB Calvin Mikkelsen (75-135, 1,343 yards, 17 TDs; 85 carries, 359 yards, seven TDs), RB Hiro Patterson (61 carries, 449 yards, three TDs; 39 catches, 806 yards, seven TDs), WR Luke Pedersen (22 catches, 379 yards, seven TDs) and LB Patterson (49 tackles, three TFL, sack, five INTs).

What to watch for: If the Scotties manage to accomplish defensively what they did against Montesano in the first round, maybe they can stay close to the reigning 1A Northeast champion, which beat Freeman, 26-14, in their league game back in September. Freeman forced five turnovers, got three sacks and held the Bulldogs scoreless for nearly three quarters a week ago. However, a leg injury forced Whitaker out of the game, and his questionable status could greatly impact the outcome in this rematch.

Pick: Lakeside of Nine Mile Falls, 41-17.



Cashmere Bulldogs 2022-23 football

4 p.m. Saturday at Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

Statistical leaders: For Seton Catholic – QB Kolten Gesser (129-213, 1,901, 30 TDs), RB Jacob Williams (187 carries, 1,278 yards, 17 TDs) and WR Joe Callerame (30 catches, 523 yards, six TDs; 33 carries, 470 yards, seven TDs). For Cashmere – QB Rylan Hatmaker (127-187, 1,842 yards, 27 TDs), RB Tyler Peterson (117 carries, 835 yards, 11 TDs), RB Ajay Lawson (73 carries, 361 yards, four TDs), WR Dalan Smart (35 catches, 460 yards, three TDs), WR Logan Spies (38 catches, 503 yards, seven TDs) and DL Josh Meros (53 tackles, 14 TFL, three sacks).

What to watch for: If the first round is any indication, there could be a lot of points put up in this one. These teams combined for 105 points in round-of-16 victories. Of course, while the Cougars won a shootout against fifth-seeded King’s the Cashmere defense allowed just 14 points in its blowout win over streaking Toppenish. All that to say, watch for the Bulldogs' defense to step into things and hold pass-happy Seton Catholic down enough to make this one a relatively smooth victory in Wenatchee.

Pick: Cashmere, 47-25.


NO. 9 OMAK PIONEERS (7-4)  vs. NO. 1 ROYAL KNIGHTS (10-0)

Omak Pioneers football 2022-23

6 p.m. Friday at Royal High School, Royal City

Statistical leaders: For Omak – QB Beau Sackman (168-272, 2,702 yards, 33 TDs; 107 carries, 634 yards, 10 TDs), WR Teagan Mullin (72 catches, 1,178 yards, 19 TDs), WR Kaiden Devereaux (46 catches, 808 yards, 11 TDs) and RB Eli Allen (68 carries, 395 yards, four TDs). For Royal – QB Lance Allred (133-188, 2,485 yards, 29 TDs; 89 carries, 552 yards, 13 TDs), RB Jared Lee (61 carries, 363 yards, nine TDs), WR Case Christensen (43 catches, 967 yards, 14 TDs), WR Jackson Larsen (35 catches, 605 yards, six TDs) and LB Lee (93 tackles, INT).

What to watch for: Sackman showed exactly what he can do while running the show for the Pioneers, who’ve had nothing but success when their quarterback is in the game. Sackman completed just six passes all game in the first round, but had 226 yards and three touchdowns while also contributing 67 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the smooth-and-reliable Allred went off for 328 yards in the air against Eatonville as the Knights ran their state tournament winning streak to 13 games. This could be a barn-burner.

Pick: Royal, 34-27.