Poly flies to Seattle

first_img The No. 3 (according to USA Today) and 1-0 Jackrabbits take on the No. 17 and 1-0 Wolverines in an 8 p.m. game at Qwest Field tonight that was made possible because of the ambition of the four-time, state-champion Bellevue program and its booster organization’s deep pockets. It’s an opportunity that coach Raul Lara and the Jackrabbits were more than willing to latch on to. SEATTLE — The best thing about all of the hyperbole that trumpets a “big” upcoming sports event is this: Eventually, people stop talking and writing about it, and the eagerly anticipated game is actually played. The showdown between nationally ranked football teams from Poly High and Washington powerhouse Bellevue has finally reached that point. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “This is a pretty good challenge,” Lara said Thursday morning, less than a day before a Poly party of 70 coaches, players, trainers and co-principal Shawn Ashley was to board a 6:45 a.m. Seattle-bound flight at the Long Beach Airport. “We’ll throw our guys onto the field and see what happens.” The Wolverines, who opened their season with a 35-0 victory over Mount Rainier on Sept. 2 (in essence, having two weeks to prepare for tonight’s game), grabbed a lot of national attention a year ago by bringing a 39-20 halt to Concord De La Salle’s 151-game winning streak. Lara and his players noticed, too. He and his staff took a peek at the videotape of the Bellevue win over De La Salle even before the contract for tonight’s game was signed last spring. center_img And they also dissected the tape of the Wolverines’ opener two weeks ago. They’re impressed. “There is no doubt that they have a good program over there,” Lara said. Indeed. In the five seasons with Butch Goncharoff as its head coach, the Bellevue program has gone a collective 57-5 with three of the defeats, all in overtime, coming in 2000. The Wolverines lost a lot of quality players including University of Washington freshmen in running back J.D. Hasty and linebacker E.J. Savannah from a 13-0 team that is considered by some the best ever in Washington. The cupboard isn’t bare on the Bellevue campus, obviously, or Lara would have never gotten calls from Dave Mutzel of the program’s booster club or Goncharoff last winter suggesting the game. Slick, quick and savvy quarterback Eric Brock anchored the team’s Wing-T attack to the tune of 460 rushing yards against De La Salle and has a multitude of take-it-to-house threats in backs Keith Rosenberg (who ran almost 400 yards in last season’s state semifinal and championship games), Anthony McQueen and Thomas Zaffino. Six-foot-5, 290-pound Stephen Schilling, a major target of USC coach Pete Carroll, clears a lot of real estate up front for Brock & Co. and will also do his best to disrupt Poly’s offensive rhythm tonight. The Wing-T, a quick-hitting offensive scheme based heavily on misdirection and the ability to exploit a defense’s over-pursuit of the football, is used with a great deal of success by many programs in Southern California, including Dominguez and Esperanza (a team beaten by the Jackrabbits in 2004 CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals). Goncharoff said his program’s version of the offense “isn’t like most other Wing-T’s’ and Lara agreed with that assessment . “They open up their splits (between offensive linemen) a little more than other teams to try to create more (blocking) angles,” he said. As is he case when facing any option attack, the key to keeping the Wolverines’ attack in check will be in the Poly defenders “being aggressive, but not too aggressive,” Lara said. “We have to be disciplined and take care of our assignments.” Goncharoff and his staff and players perused the tape of Poly’s 49-27 victory over Corona of Centennial a week ago tonight and apparently got their hands on celluloid of the Jackrabbits from last season, too. And, as is always the case when coaches and players about to face a Poly team are asked about the Jackrabbits, the Wolverines seem almost glassy-eyed in reverence to their individual and collective speed. “The first thing you notice about them is their incredible team speed,” Goncharoff said earlier this week in his Bellevue High office. “It’s impossible to simulate that in practice. We’re going to have to try to adjust to it, but hopefully, we’re not down 21-0 before we adjust.” Isn’t there always a “but’ in a matchup of this magntitude? “But,” Goncharoff said, “on the flip side, they will have to adjust to the speed and way in which we run our Wing-T. I’ll say this: We’re going to have to keep the ball as long as we can and we, need sevens (touchdowns) and not threes (field goals).” So that is that. Now it’s time to do the playing. Bellevue boosters’ spokesperson Mutzel reported an approximate presale figure mid-Thursday afternoon of “something north of 2,000 tickets’. The booster organization rented Qwest (home of the Seattle Seahawks) and a crowd of about 6,000 is needed for the group to break even on its investment, which also included fronting all of Poly’s travel and accommodations. Mutzel is hopeful that, even with approximately 100 other Seattle-area teams in action tonight “we can draw something in the range of 8 to 10,000.” The game is being televised live by the Fox Sports Network, not only in Southern California but throughout Washington and the rest of the Pacific Northwest as well. Mutzel, and the school’s athletic director, Chris Hoffman, are counting on the number of those who stay away from Qwest tonight because of the option of watching it in real time on television will be easily outnumbered by those lured to the game in part because of the week-long, nightly promotion of the showdown by Fox’s Northwest outlet. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. 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