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Is 'Playoff Saturday' the new WIAA state football playoff way? Not so fast

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There is plenty of Washington state high school quarterfinal football on the Saturday slate.

Of the 24 quarterfinal games spanning all six WIAA classifications, 21 of them will be held Saturday.

Surprised?

The WIAA folks marginally are.

"I think it is a combination of what day they played the previous week," WIAA assistant executive director Andy Barnes said, "and having to play on Saturday the following week (if they advance)."

And yet for all the reasons that make perfect sense on why there is a bump in Saturday quarterfinal action - facility availability, intrastate travel, previous-week routine and the fact the semifinals and finals are now on Saturdays - it's not so far off the round-of-eight norm that it should be tabbed a trend.

"I don't know if it's all that surprising," Steilacoom coach Colby Davies said. "I'd rather play on Friday. That is the tradition. That is what feels comfortable."

EAST VERSUS WEST

Most often, when an opponent has to travel a long distance - usually from Eastern Washington to Western Washington, or vice versa - traditionally those games have been played on Saturday (oddly enough, the one 11-man game being held Friday is Prosser coming over to play Steilacoom in Tacoma).

And last season with the advent of a WIAA state-playoff seeding committee that all but eliminated the regional "protection" of traditional state brackets, 22 of the 26 East-vs.-West matchups in the opening two rounds were played on a Saturday.

Mount Spokane has played on both days in 3A state openers the past two years - hosting Rainier Beach (Saturday) in 2017, and traveling to Timberline (Friday) in 2018.

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"I like traveling over on a Friday night and playing a Saturday afternoon game," Wildcats coach Terry Cloer said. "But what I don't like is having to travel and play a Saturday night game. If you have to stay the night there, it impacts your Sunday preparation - and puts you behind the 8-ball the rest of the week."

If two opponents cannot mutually agree on a day and time slot, the WIAA's default agreement is that the teams play Saturday at 1 p.m.

COACHES LIKE THEIR ROUTINES

If you talk to most coaches, they prefer to keep their teams on a consistent weekly routine.

So if a team plays an earlier league, district or first-round-of-state playoff game on a Saturday, chances are that coach will try to keep playing on that day.

That is what happened this season with Mount Si, which began with a league crossover game against Inglemoor in Week 9 on a Saturday - and continued on with Monroe (districts) and Chiawana (first round in 4A state playoffs).

"That got us started in a Saturday mode ... and we didn't want to leave it," Mount Si coach Charlie Kinnune said. "This time of year, having one less day to recover, install new things and prepare for an opponent is not in our best interest."

And yet, Kinnune says it feels a little odd playing this spate of Saturday games.

"We are Friday night people, and we would love to play on Friday night," Kinnune said. "But in good conscience, I cannot go back to my community - my families, my players and my staff - to tell them we are going to have one less day (to recover and prepare) to then go beat one of the best teams in the state."

AND YET, THERE IS A DECIDED BENEFIT SNEAKING IN A FRIDAY QUARTERFINAL GAME

Admittedly, Davies was expecting to be part of the large schedule of Saturday games this weekend.

But when Prosser agreed to come over and play Friday night, he immediately saw the advantages of it.

"The winner of our game then goes to the Saturday-only schedule with an extra day of rest - and an extra day of preparation," Davies said. "I mean, yeah those teams that play Saturday can come up and scout us on Friday, but they cannot start their preparation the next day like we can. That is a big deal."

Yes, 21-for-24 on Saturday is a lot - but nobody is saying this will be the trend from here on out.

"I'd rather play Friday nights. I like Friday nights," Graham-Kapowsin coach Eric Kurle said. "It works out best for the kids."