4A State Final Preview: Bothell Cougars vs Chiawana Riverhawks

4A Final

 

Bothell Cougars (13-0) vs Chiawana Riverhawks (12-1)

7:30 pm Saturday at the Tacoma Dome

 

All-Time State Tournament

Bothell: Entries – 13; Record – 16-12; Best Finish – Runner-up (2006, 2007)

Chiawana: Entries – 3; Record – 8-1; Best Finish – Champion (2013)

 

About Bothell:

Head Coach: Tom Bainter (15th season)

In Tom Bainter’s first year at Bothell, 2000, he led the Cougars to an 8-3 record, which at the time was the most wins the school had achieved in a single season.

Since then the Bothell program has been one of the most consistent programs in the state, but they have yet to taste total success in the Tacoma Dome.

They came up just short in 2006 to Oak Harbor, and the following year to Lewis & Clark, but we might be seeing their best product yet.

 

About Chiawana:

Head Coach: Steve Graff (6th season)

Steve Graff is one of the all-time coaching greats in the State of Washington, and is the only coach in Chiawana’s short history.

Before Chiawana opened, the City of Pasco was a one school town, and while under Graff’s tutelage the Pasco Bulldogs were consistently one of the state’s best programs.

The first season at Chiawana was one to forget, as the Riverhawks finished with just one win to go with eight losses, but in the five seasons since 2009, they only have eight total losses.

Chiawana are the defending State Champions after knocking off highly touted Camas in the greatest football game many have ever seen. It was their first State Title, and coach Graff’s fourth as a head coach.

 

Bothell on Offense:

Led by QB and CAL commit Ross Bowers, the Cougars offense can beat you in a variety of ways. They have big time receiving targets in Dayzell Wilson and Jackson Keimig (Yale Commit) on the outside, and the state’s top TE recruit Cole Ford, who is very capable as a blocker or receiver.

I think WR Sean Hanrahan gets overlooked by many people. He lines up mostly in the slot, but does a good job at getting open and gives Bowers a viable target when teams try to double team the top guys.

When Sam McPherson went down with a season ending injury, many people thought the Bothell running game was done, but replacements Damani St. John-Watkins and Caleb Meyer have done a tremendous job picking up the slack.

In the trenches is where Bothell really sets themselves apart from most teams. Center Cody Mitchell is one of the best in the state, while Jordan Barker and Kyler Gilmer have a special combo of mean and nasty to get any run game going. Tyler Wharf and Colton Moser round out a very athletic offensive line, that is one of the best pulling teams in the state.

When the Cougars look to kick FG’s, expect to see senior Steven Weedin line up for the try.

 

Chiawana on Offense:

The name of the game for Chiawana is running the football, and nobody does it better than Austin Urlacher.

As a matter of fact, nobody in state history has done it better in a season than Urlacher, who broke the single season rushing record in last weekend’s 28-12 win over Graham-Kapowsin. Urlacher now sits at 2,776 yards on the year, which is two better than that of former Capital RB Kai van Sickle.

A bulk of the credit goes play of the offensive line. They are led by LT Jake Martin, who was voted as the Mid-Columbia Conference’s outstanding lineman. Martin did a tremendous job over the last offseason to prepare himself by dropping weight so he could be more athletic to make the pulls that are common in the Chiawana offense.

Also along the line is first team All-MCC Kameron Silvers and second team members Bernardo Castillo and Trenton Steach. You will also see sophomore Anthony Reisch in at his LG spot.

The Riverhawks do not throw the ball much, and rightfully so. Last week they attempted just seven total passes, and only completed one, but I would expect to see them throw more and be more successful now that they move indoors.

At quarterback for Chiawana is senior Logan Ellsworth, who took over when Mac Graff was hurt in a hunting accident, and has done great job guiding the offense.

Ellsworth’s top receiving target is senior Dre Dorton, who has received multiple D1 offers, as well as Isaiah Richie and Josh Wilson. Tight End Christian Penny does his best work as a run blocker, but is a capable receiving target for the Riverhawks when needed.

When it is time to kick, you can expect to see junior Matt Winn, who was a second team All-MCC member this season.

 

Bothell on Defense:

Bothell is led by one of the better front sevens I can remember.

The defensive line does a tremendous job at clogging lanes, allowing the linebackers to flow and make plays. Seniors Jordan Barker and Miles Lockett are two of the more underrated defensive lineman in the state. Those two are in the backfield on what seems like every play. There was one play last week against Newport where it almost seemed like Lockett knew the snap count he was in there so quick.

Rounding out the defensive line are senior Cole Ford and sophomore Jesse Sims. Ford hasn’t played a ton of defense until this season, but has really been one of the bright spots on a tough defense. Sims has good size for being so young, and is a strong presence up front, getting high praise from the linebackers for his work.

Tough, physical offensive line play is a staple of a Steve Graff coached football team, so the defensive line from Bothell is going to have to be on their game.

Speaking of the linebackers, you’d be hard pressed to find a better group in the state. Tyler Wharf, Shawn Munro and Jacob Johnston all feature the toughness to stop the run game, and overall athleticism to drop in to coverage when needed. Last week against Newport, this group had one of it’s best showings against a speedy whishbone attack.

This group will be a key component to slowing down Austin Urlacher. Chiawana does a great job offensively getting to the second level, and this group is going to have to stay off blocks and make plays.

Bothell’s defensive backfield might not see a ton of action in the state championship game from a passing standpoint, but they will be vital in run support.

Last week against Newport they used a combination of Ryan Croson and Sean Hanrahan at CB, with Jackson Keimig walking up from strong to play an extra LB spot, while Dale Goong manned a deep middle free safety position.

Now, Newport ran a very tight wishbone, and Chiawana goes more single back with 3 WR’s, so I expect to see Bothell’s defensive alignment change.

 

Chiawana on Defense:

When you talk about the All-Time best defenses in state history, you would have a valid argument if you started with Chiawana. Through 13 games the Riverhawks have allowed just 98 points, 7.5 per game.

They are led up front by Juan Noyola, who might be the state’s most underrated player. Noyola is the Mid-Columbia Conference defensive MVP, and is an absolute force inside. The 6-foot-3, 260 pound senior can play the power or finesse game, and will command a double-team most of the night.

Christian Penny is fun to watch on the defensive line, and is a key player to watch as the Riverhawks looks to get pressure on Ross Bowers. Adding to the attack is second team All-MCC members Levi McBride, and Kannan Jenkins, who received honorable mention.

Chiawana has their own set of top notch linebackers, led by 6-foot-2, 213 pound sophomore Caleb Weber. If you watched last year’s state title game, you probably remember Caleb’s older brother Alex, now at PENN, leading the defensive charge against Camas. It is now the younger Weber’s turn, and he has performed admirably thus far, and earned a second team All-MCC award.

Along side Weber, and a second team All-MCC member himself, is Nate Murrillo. The senior backer has good speed, instincts and packs a powerful punch when its time to make a tackle. Also at linebacker is Josh Wilson, who was an honorable mention member this season. Wilson actually plays a bit of a free safety/rover type spot, that will be key against the Bothell offense.

The Chiawana front seven gets a lot of credit for the quarterfinal win over Gonzaga Prep, when they limited Bullpup RB Jack Bamis to 13 yards on 10 carries.

Roaming the secondary, and having possibly the biggest task on the weekend, are a group of defensive backs that don’t get a lot of credit.

Corners Dre Dorton and Isaiah Richie combined for nine interceptions this season, and should provide a good matchup for Dayzell Wilson and Jackson Keimig.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. I have watched Chiawana play and Bothell will have their hands full. They will be playing a well coached team that is both physical and quick. They want to run the ball down your throat and use an occasional pass to keep the defense honest. Graham Kapowskin (GK) tried to put 9 men in the box to stop the run but Urlacher still got over 200 yards and GK got burned on a 19 yard touchdown pass. Urlacher is an outstanding running back and athlete, as he has good balance, hard to tackle, good speed and will both out run you or run over you. Chiawana is known for its outstanding blocking. If Bothell can force third and longs, Chiawana can also pass as Chiawana has good receivers and a QB with a good arm but has not had to throw much this year because of the dominance of the running game. The real strength of Chiawana's team is its defense, not its offense. It is solid at all eleven defensive positions. All the players are physical but also quick. All the teams they have played this year have struggled on offense to get anything consistently going. Through 13 games Chiawana has only allowed an average of 7.5 points per game, most coming late in the game against the second team. Coach Graff believes defenses win championships and this is one heck of a defense, maybe as good as their defense last year. Good luck Bothell as you will need to play your best and grind it out.

  2. I have watched Chiawana play and Bothell will have their hands full. They will be playing a well coached team that is both physical and quick. They want to run the ball down your throat and use an occasional pass to keep the defense honest. Graham Kapowskin (GK) tried to put 9 men in the box to stop the run but Urlacher still got over 200 yards and GK got burned on a 19 yard touchdown pass. Urlacher is an outstanding running back and athlete, as he has good balance, finds the hole, hard to tackle, good speed and will both out run you or run over you. Chiawana is known for its outstanding blocking. If Bothell can force third and longs, Chiawana can also pass as Chiawana has good receivers and a QB with a good arm but has not had to throw much this year because of the dominance of the running game and defense. The greatest strength of Chiawana's team is its defense, not its offense. It is solid at all eleven defensive positions. All the players are physical but also quick. All the teams they have played this year have struggled on offense to get anything consistently going. Through 13 games Chiawana has only allowed an average of 7.5 points per game, most coming late in the game against the second team. Coach Graff believes defenses win championships and this is one heck of a defense, maybe as good as their defense last year. Chiawana's special teams are also good with a good punter and good kicker. Good luck Bothell as you will need to play your best and grind it out. Bothell needs to not get too frustrated when things that normally work go wrong. The Bothell coaches need to also come up with some good and unusual plays to surprise Chiawana, which Camas did last year in the second half. The Bothell players will know they were in one heck of a physical game when it is over.

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