Lake Stevens' Grayson Murren and Eastlake's Parker Barrysmith have made playing quarterback this fall look easy as first-time starters.
As a result, their respective teams are in the Class 4A semifinals - and face off Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium in Bothell.
The amazing thing about both of their ascensions into all-league players is that they've taken similar wait-and-play journeys to the starting job as seniors.
Murren's path was blocked by two-time all-4A Wesco performer Tanner Jellison for two seasons. But coach Tom Tri was excited when it was time to hand the reins of the Vikings' offense over to the dual threat.
"We were definitely cautiously optimistic that he would be a stud for us," Tri said. "He can make all the throws. He has the feet. It just really came down to his decision-making, and experience facing live bullets."
Tri said Murren's first couple of throws in his first varsity start against O'Dea were off target because he was "so amped up." After that, he settled down and led the team to a victory over the then-No. 1 team in Class 3A.
His season has had one hiccup - an injury.
Murren played the final few minutes against Kamiak with a fracture in his leg, which sidelined him for three weeks. He returned to the helm Saturday, leading Lake Stevens to a 35-14 win over Gonzaga Prep.
"I've been extremely impressed with his ability to pick up things quickly - and fluently," Tri said. "But the one thing we underestimated with him is how competitive he is. That kid does not like to lose."
On the other side, first-year Eastlake coach Kyle Snell said he didn't need a varsity game to really know Barrysmith would flourish at quarterback.
"We played O'Dea at team camp," Snell said. "Parker made some throws with some of their big dudes in his face, and (offensive line) coach (Mike) Linker runs up and goes, 'Did you see him throw the ball with that guy bearing down on him?'"
Barrysmith is a slippery gun-slinger who has a knack of making big-time throws on the move.
And with 2,565 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, he's on the verge of rewriting many of the school's single-season records - many of them held by Ben Howard (2016).
"He is giving guys a chance to make plays all the time, or he is making the right decision so we live to see another down," Snell said. "Our guys have incredible confidence in him.
"He is playing really, really great football. Nothing seems outside his comfortability right now."
Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual performers, outlook and score prediction, of this weekend’s 2021 WIAA Class 4A football semifinal matchups.
NO. 3 LAKE STEVENS VIKINGS (10-0) vs. NO. 2 EASTLAKE WOLVES (12-0)
1 p.m. Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium, Bothell
Statistical leaders: For Lake Stevens – QB Grayson Murren (82-115, 1,509 yards, 18 TDs), RB Jayden Limar (172 carries, 1,400 yards, 19 TDs; 21 catches, 355 yards, four TDs), WR Drew Carter (52 catches, 946 yards, 13 TDs), WR Trayce Hanks (48 carries, 554 yards, seven TDs; 24 catches, 505 yards, six TDs; and four INT on defense) and LB Madison Wynkoop