Future Cougs knock heads, praise each other

SAMMAMISH -- You'd have never known the two of them were trying to knock each other's teeth out for the better part of the previous three hours. When the dust settled Friday night in Skyline's convincing Class 4A playoff win over Federal Way, future Washington State Cougars Gino Simone and Andre Barrington talked a lot like the teammates they will be next year.

Turns out, they're crimson connection actually had them chatting before the defending state champions from Skyline met the upstarts from Federal Way.

"We have been talking a lot lately," said Simone, the multi-purpose wunderkind for Skyline who verbally committed to WSU back in August. "With this game coming up we were having a little fun talking back and forth."

Despite Skyline winning the game handily -- 49-6 -- Simone has nothing respect for his future teammate. "He came out here and showed what he can do," he said of Barrington, who committed to the Cougs in September. "Andre is a real good athlete, a real good runner. He is going to be something special on the next level."

ANDRE BARRINGTON

Simone checks in at 6-0, 175-pounds. A defensive back when Skyline is on D, he knew he couldn't bring down the highly physical, 6-2, 210-pound Andre Barrington with a standard tackle. "I knew I wasn't taking him up high," Simone said. "You have to play smart."

The mutual respect was reciprocated by Barrington, the all-everything pride of Federal Way. "He is a good player," he said of Simone. "I am excited to play with him next year. I wish him luck the rest of the season, along with the rest of the Skyline team."

THE THEME OF THE game for both Simone and Barrington was versatility. Federal Way's game plan was to eat up the clock on offense, keeping Skyline quarterback Jake Heaps and his potent attack on the sidelines. That plan took shape around Barrington, who played variously at running back, quarterback, and even a few plays at wide receiver. And that was just on offense. On defense, playing outside linebacker, he was in on what seemed like the vast majority of stops.

"Wazzu is looking at me for outside linebacker," he said. "I'm open to anything, I just want to play. Wherever they put me I am going to line up and play."

Simone, the reigning Kingco Player of the Year, also displayed his versatility, playing well at safety and wide receiver -- and starring on special teams. With Skyline leading 21-6, Simone put the game out of reach when he took the second-half kickoff 94-yards for a touchdown. "Coming through, we looped it out a little bit and then came back into the wedge. I saw the hole and just hit it," he said of the big play. "There was one guy left, I got a good block, and it was off to the races." No one was going to catch him after midfield and when he reached the 8-yard line, he gave a little celebratory nod.

He also scored Skyline's first TD of the game on a 14-yard pass from Heaps.

Simone, who is rated by Scout.com as the No. 1 overall prospect in the state, will play receiver at WSU. And he's more than open to returning kicks. "I will do whatever the team needs, so we'll see."

NOTABLE:
* Skyline (11-0) will play Auburn this weekend in a quarter-final match up. Skyline has won 25 consecutive games is ranked in the top 10 nationally. Federal Way finished the year 8-3.

* Besides football, Barrington excels in basketball. Last season he helped propel Federal Way to the state Class 4A title game, where the Eagles lost to a Ferris High team featuring eventual Cougars DeAngelo Casto and Jared Karstetter.


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