RENTON — As the 4A seeding committee convened in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association offices to determine the 4A state football playoff bracket on Sunday morning, a question loomed.
With four undefeated teams in the field, how would the committee rank the top four seeds?
In the end, Kennedy Catholic was the No. 1 seed, Camas was No. 2, Lake Stevens, which spent most of the regular season atop several prominent 4A polls, was No. 3 and Graham-Kapowsin was No. 4.
And once voted on, the top-four were not hotly contested.
“What was consistent was one through four was pretty consistent with everybody,” Camas coach Jon Eagle, also a member of the seeding committee, said. “It didn’t change much. They’re all undefeated teams. That makes it really easy.”
How did the seeding committee, which consists of athletic directors, 4A head coaches and a media member, rank the four undefeated teams?
Lake Stevens was consistently No. 1 in the Associated Press poll, which consists of voting media members from around the state, as well as Scorebook Live’s 4A coaches poll, which is comprised of voting 4A coaches from around the state (including committee members Chiawana coach Steve Graff and Eagle).
“I had them high(er),” one committee member said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Another committee member said Graham-Kapowsin was a near-consensus at No. 4 and that the one through three-seed was like splitting hairs.
The committee member said the discussions were more centered around Kennedy Catholic’s elevated defense than it was about anything regarding Lake Stevens.
The Lancers have allowed 15 points per game to complement perhaps the state’s most prolific offense, led by Washington commit Sam Huard and highly-touted receivers Justin Baker, Junior Alexander and Jabez Tinae.
The only thing working against Lake Stevens was strength of schedule, according to a committee member.
The Vikings are averaging 57.2 points per game and have posted five shutouts, though their best win of the season is a 35-26 home win over Lincoln, the 3A No. 3 seed. No other Wesco team made the 4A state playoffs.
The Lancers’ sport wins over the 3A No. 4 seed Bethel (32-27), 4A No. 5 seed Bothell (41-21) and 4A No. 12 seed Kentwood (69-36).
In a playoff bracket, splitting hairs can still prove costly. Lake Stevens now faces a road game if it makes the 4A state semis, and could reasonably travel as far as Vancouver to face No. 2 seed Camas.
Now, Lake Stevens is perhaps the most dangerous No. 3 seed across all classifications ahead of its opening round matchup against No. 14 seed Union, a rematch of last year’s state championship game.
And the Vikings have only gotten stronger with the return of Washington Sate O-line commit Devin Kylany from injury.
So what about Camas at No. 2?
The Papermakers nabbing the second seed is noteworthy mainly because of their standing among committee members despite a bevy of injuries.
USC commit Caadyn Stephen, an offensive lineman, has not played since Week 3 as he works back from a back injury, high end and defensive end Titan Phillips has been out, running back Jacques Badolato-Birdsell has seen limited action as he recovers from an ankle injury and starting quarterback Jake Blair went down for the season with a broken collarbone in Week 9.
Eagle made his case that with senior Blake Ascuitto under center, the Papermakers have not faltered.
In two starts, Ascuitto was 10 of 14 for 146 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 9 win over league rival Union and had 307 yards and two touchdowns in Friday’s district playoff game against Olympia. He has only turned the ball over once this season.
“I thought we got a good draw and I thought a lot of teams got a good draw,” Eagle said. “I think teams are kind of where we thought they would be. Lot of good football teams, one through 16.”