Pomeroy takes on No. 1 A-C-H

The Pirates face top-ranked Almira-Coulee-Hartline in the State semifinals Saturday.

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A section of Pomeroy students cheers the Pirates on by singing Pomeroy High School's fight song after a touchdown on Saturday, Nov. 19, during their mercy-rule victory over Wellpinit in Pasco.

POMEROY - It's taken Pomeroy just one half to dispatch its foes in the last two Washington state Class 1B football playoff games.

Last week in the quarterfinal against Wellpinit, Tory Knebel scored six touchdowns as the Pirates put 30 unanswered second-quarter points to break open an 38-24 first-period score and end the game at halftime, 68-24.

In the first round, Pomeroy handed Northport a 72-28 defeat in one half of play, as well, scoring 58 first-quarter points en route to the rout.

Pirates coach Sanford Bates is expecting a little different story at noon Saturday when Pomeroy plays Almira-Coulee-Hartline in the state semifinals at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.

The undefeated Warriors are ranked No. 1 in the state Class 1B-8 ranks, and ended Touchet's season with a 52-8 victory in last week's quarterfinal matchup in Moses Lake.

"They are a team, on offense, that likes to spread the field wide," Bates said of A-C-H. "They do a lot of double slots and single slots with the wide receivers out. They also pass from a set formation. They like to utilize open space as much as they can."

The only time the Pirates faced a similar offense was against Colton - a game Pomeroy lost two points for its only loss of the season.

"A-C-H probably runs more than they throw out of both formations," Bates said.

But the Pirates have had success on both sides of the ball, outscoring opponents by a 2-to-1 margin during the regular season and then cruising through the playoffs so far.

"We've come up with some things that'll hopefully help slow them down, shorten those wide spaces down a little bit," Bates said of his defensive game plan. "It'll give us a chance to corral them a little better."

On offense, the Pirates will stick to their bread and butter, the running game. Led by Knebel and quarterback Ryan Smith, Pomeroy put up 3,937 yards and scored 55 touchdowns via the ground during the regular season.

"We'll have to see once we get there (the game), we'll see if they (the Warriors) change anything (on defense)," Bates said. "Otherwise, we'll go with what we've done. We've been successful all year. Hopefully, it'll be the same."

And facing an A-C-H squad ranked top in the state?

"That puts us as an underdog, and that's just fine," Bates said. "It puts pressure on them, in a sense. We like that position, we can just focus on the game, doing what we do and not on that (the higher ranking) situation."

Returning to Edgar Brown, where Pomeroy manhandled Wellpinit last Saturday, is another plus, Bates feels.

"It's nice to go back to where we were, two weeks in a row," Bates said. "We've got that familiarity."

Pomeroy's football team advanced to the state semifinals in 2002, and the Pirates aren't letting the playoff pressure get to them, Bates said.

"They're taking each game as it comes," he said. "They're excited, working hard, and keeping things in perspective."

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