This past weekend the Royal Knights squared off against the Riverview Panthers and escaped with a
narrow victory. The Panthers took advantage of some opportunities that they created and played an
inspired game to give the Knights all they could handle in the 1A semifinal game.
To borrow some analogy from the boxing world, the Knights cruised through their first 12 bouts of the season hardly being touched. Sure, they absorbed a few body shots here and there, but they overpowered each opponent and moved on unscathed.
Even as the challengers got better late in the season and some even landed some early blows, the Knights countered, dug in, and landed blow after blow to stagger and batter their opponents into submission.
For the first time all season the Knights were punched in the face and saw their own blood. It is said
that the most pivotal moment in an undefeated prospect's career is the first time they are put on the
Do the unfamiliar feelings of vulnerability and self-doubt cloud their minds and impair their
ability to respond and overcome or do they push those feelings down instinctively and rise up to meet
the challenge before them?
The Royal players, coaches, and community collectively stared down that situation against the Panthers
and answered the question in a manner that propelled them to a 31-28 victory and into the 1A State
Championship this weekend at 10am in the Tacoma Dome.
In contrast to the season path of the Knights, the Montesano Bulldogs opened their campaign with
some bona fide contenders in their second and third bouts, which resulted in two early blemishes on
Immediately thrust onto a different path to the title shot than the Knights, the Bulldogs absorbed those losses, dug down deep, and found the early resolve to overcome adversity. They have
since reeled off ten straight victories and proved their mettle by upending the favored King's Knights
in the quarterfinal round and controlling the Mount Baker Mountaineers from start to finish in the
Despite their contrasting routes to the title shot, the Knights and Bulldogs will face off this Saturday
morning in what may be the best matchup of Championship Weekend. In reality, the two teams share
a multitude of similarities.
Both are directed by outstanding coaching staffs who have consistently lead their teams to deep playoff funs and are two of the best staffs in the state at gameplanning and make fine adjustments during the course of a game.
Both squads are led by athletic and experienced quarterbacks who were chosen as their respective
league's offensive players of the year.
Montesano's Mathew Jensen is the son of head coach Terry Jensen, which allows them the maximum possible time to gameplan together.
Royal's Alex Myrick is a third year starter at quarterback in the Knights offensive system.
Both signal callers direct balanced offenses who can strike through the air or on the ground. They are both supported by quality running backs and receivers. They are both protected by athletic and tenacious offensive lines.
They both execute from playbooks that challenge defenses with multiple sets and formations.
Likewise, both teams have athletic and quick defenses that apply pressure, cover well, flow to the
ball, and tackle with good fundamentals.
With all of that considered, what will be the key factor in determining a 2012 champion? When the dust settles, what will we point to as the difference that separated one contender from the other?
Will it be gameplanning, or execution, or is one side just better than the other?
I suppose we will all find out soon enough.