After a slow start, Juanita has bounced back to qualify for the playoffs behind a freshman quarterback who is 4-1 as a starter.
Juanita began the football season facing skepticism after going 4-6 in 2011 and losing running back Darrin Laufasa, a BYU commit who transferred to Bothell.
Making matters worse, the Rebels lost to Monroe and Mount Si to start the year.
“Our kids felt like the community and maybe even some of them thought, ‘Shoot, we’re not going to be that good,’ ” Juanita coach Shaun Tarantola said. “And our kids didn’t believe that really, but after losing like we did to Mount Si and losing to Monroe, doubt kind of crept into their heads.”
Juanita (5-3 overall, 4-2 KingCo 3A/2A) turned its season around by beating Liberty in Week 4, and upsetting then-ranked Mercer Island. The Rebels, winners of three straight, are now playoff bound.
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Tavin Montgomery, a freshman, is 4-1 as starting quarterback and has nine TDs in his last three games.
“Every game that we’ve had to win or our postseason opportunity is over, we’ve won,” Tarantola said. “Every time our backs have been against the wall, we’ve played our best football.”
Blaine’s Gobbato chasing state rushing records
Blaine’s Mario Gobbato needs 92 yards to pass former Bellevue running back J.R. Hasty for seventh on the state’s career rushing list.
Gobbato has 5,402 yards on 681 carries (7.9 per carry), according to The Bellingham Herald. Hasty rushed for 5,493, according to state historian David Maley.
Timberline’s Jonathan Stewart, now playing for the Carolina Panthers, is the state’s leader with 7,755.
After eight games, Gobbato has 2,105 yards this season. That leaves him 576 behind Interlake’s Jordan Todd (2,681) for the state’s season rushing mark. Gobbato had 2,668 as a junior, the fourth-highest total in state history.
Timberline’s Ralph Kinne has rushed for 2,112 this season, according to MaxPreps.
Kennedy Catholic, Lindbergh playing for title
In terms of the playoffs, nothing is on the line when 3A Kennedy Catholic (ranked No. 4) plays 2A Lindbergh (ranked No. 10) Thursday night at Highline Stadium.
Both will advance as No. 1 seeds out of the Seamount League. But only the winner can claim the league title.
“This is a good game for us. It’s for the championship,” Kennedy coach Bob Bourgette said. “Everybody wants to put a banner on the wall.”
The Lancers own plenty of those, winning or sharing 15 of the past 17. One miss was in 2009, when Lindbergh went 8-0 and beat Kennedy for the first time since 1986.
Kennedy (6-1, 5-0) has won six in a row since a season-opening loss to No. 2 Mount Si. Lindbergh (7-1, 5-0) has yet to lose on the field, having forfeited its opener to West Seattle due to a lack of eligible players.
Federal Way, Curtis on mend going into showdown
Unbeaten Federal Way (8-0, 7-0) could be without sophomore sensation Chico McClatcher when the Eagles travel to Curtis (7-1, 6-1) Friday night in a SPSL 4A South showdown.
McClatcher, who has a team-best 14 TDs (including three on punt returns), has been ill all week and coach John Meagher said Wednesday he isn’t sure if he will be ready to play Friday.
Curtis, which has lost only to No. 10 Graham-Kapowsin, rallied to beat Rogers last week without RB/DB E.J. Deveaux, who had a lower ankle sprain. He leads the team with 865 yards rushing and has scored eight TDs (one on a kickoff return). In his absence, Max Hersey rushed for a season-high 153 yards and scored five times.
Curtis coach Clay Angle said he anticipates Deveaux being able to play Friday.
• Two Auburn players hospitalized during last week’s game against Federal Way, RB/DB Harold Lee (mild concussion) and QB Brier Atkinson (back strain), likely will sit out Friday’s game against Auburn Riverside, coach Gordon Elliott said. Both are expected back for the playoffs.
• Kentwood can claim the SPSL 4A North title and regain the Claude French Trophy by beating rival Kentlake Thursday night. The trophy goes to the city champion among the four Kent high schools. Kentwood had won seven in a row (and has a city-best 20 overall) before Kentlake took it away last year.
• King’s QB Billy Green has 38 total touchdowns this season. Friday night, the Knights, ranked No. 1 in 1A, take on Lakewood, the state’s fourth-ranked 2A team, for the Cascade Conference title.
• Skyline QB Max Browne needs 504 yards to surpass former Prosser and Boise State QB Kellen Moore for second place on the state’s career passing list. With his next passing TD, Browne will move to fourth all-time.
• Bellevue has won 34 straight games, continuing to extend its record for a KingCo Conference school.
• Jackson QB Conor Plaisance passed for four touchdowns as the Timberwolves won their fifth straight last week. They play Monroe for the WesCo 4A title Friday.
• Kentwood’s Mitchell Cox tied the SPSL 4A record with his 11th field goal of the season last week, kicking a 30-yarder against Auburn Riverside.
• No. 9 Peninsula looks to end Lakes’ 30-game win streak in SPSL 3A when the teams meet Friday night. The Lancers have not lost a league game since joining the conference in 2008.
• Despite last week’s upset loss to Fife, Sumner (6-2, 5-1) can earn the SPSL 2A title with a victory Friday over White River (3-5, 2-4). A Sumner loss could result in a two- or three-way tie for first place.
Times staff reporter Sandy Ringer contributed to this report.