Stags face defending state champs in 1A semifinals
By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff
All roads in eastern Washington that lead to the state 1A football championship go through Royal City.
The Deer Park Stags will be traveling that road this Saturday when they face the undefeated and top-ranked defending state champion Royal Knights. That clash will take place at Gonzaga Prep this Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
With Zillah concentrating on stopping Deer Park’s running attack, the Stags went to the air to defeat the Leopards 24-6 at Gonzaga Prep last Saturday.
Quarterback Conner O’Dea connected with receivers Trayton Bird and Dean Lockwood for two touchdown completions.
With the addition of a pass interception return for another touchdown by Bird, the Stags took a 21- 0 lead. A field goal made it 24-0.
Zillah scored late in the game when Deer Park had pulled most of its starting defense off the field to keep from being shut out. The Leopard touchdown created a 24-6 final score.
Royal City defeated LaSalle in last weekend’s quarterfinal matchup by a 42-12 score. The Knights upended Colville 24-6 the previous week. They go into this Saturday’s game with an untarnished 11-0 season record.
Deer Park and Royal have two common opponents. Royal beat Zillah early in the season, 40-7. Deer Park defeated the Leopards 24-8.
Deer Park outscored Colville 42-16. Royal got the best of the Indians, 27-6. In that same opening round of state play, Zillah got the best of Freeman, 49-42. They finished with a 9-2 record.
Deer Park was the only Northeast A League team to advance to the second round of the state football championships. With the return of junior runningback Tyson Lim, the Stags shut out Naches Valley 21-0.
With the loss to Zillah, Freeman was eliminated from the state football bracket. Likewise, Colville was upended 26-6 by perennial eastside powerhouse Royal City, ending the season for the Indians.