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Bracket Breakdown: WIAA 1B state football tournament semifinal previews, stat leaders, game picks

Wilbur-Creston-Keller is a WIAA semifinalist for the first time behind a 'three-headed monster" in the offensive backfield and with the addition of a big-name assistant coach

Darin Reppe has had a pretty good handle on Wilbur-Creston-Keller football as coach for more than a decade.

But during the offseason, Reppe was faced with bringing on the biggest addition ever to his coaching staff.

He didn't hesitate, either, hiring seven-time state championship coach Jeff Nelson (Lacrosse-Washtucna, Odessa) not only run his defense, but add an option-game wrinkle to his offense.


Together, they've guided the second-seeded Wildcats to their best season in school history - 11-0 record and first trip to the WIAA semifinals where they will host (somewhat) No. 3 seed Mossyrock on Saturday in Moses Lake.

"Nobody has had more success in the eight-man game than he his," Reppe said. "(His addition) has been absolutely seamless. It's been a game-changer. We now understand why he was so difficult to defend."

When the two coaches met during the offseason after Nelson stepped down at Odessa last winter and started discussing blending offensive philosophies, Nelson made it very simple.

"He said, "We'll add just three (option) plays to your playbook,' and that was that," Reppe said. 

What has also contributed to Wilbur-Creston-Keller's historic season has been a run of good health - something that didn't happen in 2022 when it exited the district playoffs after a last-play loss to Almira/Coulee-Hartline.

One of the players who the team lost early last season was Kalub Dreger, who has rushed for 2,318 yards and 33 touchdowns as a senior.

"His speed is unreal - and it was especially evident Saturday (against Naselle) on the turf," Reppe said. "He can absolutely fly."

Combine Dreger with quarterback Kallen Maioho and running back Preston Michel, and Reppe feels like he has a "three-headed monster" that can compete with anybody around the state.

"This is our 39th year of Wildcat football," Reppe said. 'and this is the first team to make it into the semifinals."

Editor’s note: Here’s a game-by-game breakdown, including top individual performers, outlook and score predictions of this weekend’s 2023 WIAA Class 1B football semifinal matchups.



Lucien Paz, Liberty Bell football, class of 2025

1 p.m. Saturday at Apple Bowl, Wenatchee

Statistical leaders: For Neah Bay – QB Mathias Greene (40-74, 825 yards, 11 TDs), RB Jodell Wimberly (157 carries, 1,713 yards, 35 TDs), RB Tyler Swan (101 carries, 1,026 yards, 22 TDs), WR Adan Ellis (17 catches, 381 yards, eight TDs) and DL Seactis Woodruff (78 tackles, 12 TFL) and LB Tyler Swan (72 tackles, seven TFL) and LB Adan Ellis (65 tackles, 12 TFL, six sacks). For Liberty Bell - QB Lucien Paz (81-116, 1,390 yards, 28 TDs; 92 carries, 707 yards, 13 TDs), ATH Remington Paz (61 carries, 778 yards, 11 TDs; 39 catches, 768 yards, 19 TDs), WR Brodie Barnhart (16 catches, 236 yards, two TDs) and DB Greyden Paz (51 tackles, nine TFL, three INT) and LB Remington Paz (48 tackles, six TFL, two INT, two forced fumbles and recoveries) and DL Alex Ramsey-George (39 tackles, eight TFL, six sacks).

What to watch for: It is Round 3 in less than a year between these two juggernauts. The Mountain Lions have won both previous matchups - 50-12 in the 1B title game last December in Tacoma, and 50-24 in this fall's season opener in Oak Harbor. As underdogs, the Red Devils know they have to unlock their power rushing attack against a quick, savvy, sure-tackling Liberty Bell defense, which has shut that down in the past two meetings. Can Swan's emergence at fullback make a bigger impact, too? Also, Neah Bay has to find ways to limit the Mountain Lions' big-play capability with the Paz brothers. The Red Devils have done that in spurts, but Lucien Paz made big fourth-down plays in the season opener en route to a 290-yard, six-touchdown passing effort - with four scores going to Remington Paz.

Pick: Liberty Bell, 48-31.



Wilbur-Creston-Keller football 2023

Noon Saturday at Lions Field, Moses Lake

Statistical leaders: For Mossyrock - QB Easton Kolb (51-79, 1,218 yards, 16 TDs; 88 carries, 823 yards, 14 TDs), RB Marshall Brockway (91 carries, 610 yards, eight TDs), RB Luke Cooper (36 carries, 457 yards, nine TDs), TE Hunter Isom (20 catches, 348 yards, five TDs) and LB Luke Cooper (61 tackles, seven TFL, sack). For Wilbur-Creston-Keller - Kallen Maioho (39-55, 714 yards, 11 TDs; 38 carries, 599 yards, 16 TDs; RB Kalub Dreger (159 carries, 2,318 yards, 33 TDs; four catches, 148 yards, three TDs); RB Preston Michel (190 carries, 1,448 yards, 23 TDs; 28 catches, 403 yards, seven TDs) and DL Adam Oates (107 tackles, 14 TFL, 11 sacks) and DB Kallen Maioho (104 tackles, 10 INTs).

What to watch for: Though built differently, both offenses feature the same key components: Both aim to unleash a power rushing attack utilizing similar formations and play designs (and both like the "wedge" play as well). Mossyrock is bigger up front, and has a greater passing-component presence in its offense with the dual-threat Kolb. But the Wildcats offer a more dangerous big-play threat in Dreger, who can score from anywhere on the field with his speed. Wilbur-Creston-Keller also can go to something it installed into its offense this past offseason - the option run. Brockway (leg), one of the Vikings' best two-way players, is questionable to play. He is a huge presence in the middle of Mossyrock's run defense along the line.

Pick: Mossyrock, 39-34


(Featured photo by Alison Viebrock/Blessed Farmgirl Photography)