Championships galore for future Cougs

TWO FUTURE COUGARS won state high school football championships over the weekend, while two others captured sectional titles in California and a fifth helped his team to a sectional semi-final win. Five of the 12 prep players who have verbally committed to WSU were in action over the weekend and all five came out victorious.

In Washington, Bellevue High, featuring future Cougar Jamal Atofau, captured the Class 3A state championship with a 35-6 victory over upstart Union High of Camas, and Skyline High, with WSU soft verbal Gino Simone at center stage, won the Class 4A title in a dramatic, 20-15 triumph over Issaquah.

Bellevue and Skyline each concluded the season with perfect 14-0 records – a fact that no doubt will keep local fans busy arguing for years over who would win in a match up of these powerhouses.


Simone, an All-State receiver, only caught two balls in the title game, but his heavy hitting at safety sent a shiver down the Issaquah sidelines in the fourth quarter when he blasted receiver Adam Dondoyano (see photo at right) and sent the ball into the air.

Meanwhile, in California, quarterback Jeff Tuel racked up more than 200 all-purpose yards and converted four of four fourth-down plays to lead Clovis West of Fresno to a 24-7 win over rival Clovis East for the Central Section Division I championship. And in California's the North Coast Division IV championship, Justin-Siena High of Napa – which features incoming Cougar defensive tackle Justin Clayton – defeated Alhambra 28-14.

In Southern California, nationally ranked Centennial High of Corona – with future WSU Arthur Burns starring at running back – defeated Murrieta Valley 38-17 to earn a spot in the Inland Section Division II championship game next weekend. Centennial is 13-0 on the season. Burns averages 128 ground yards per outing.

FOLLOWING TUEL'S FRIDAY night heroics, the Fresno Bee wrote: "It was last season, if not the season before, Clovis West figured to dominate with that well-advertised Class of 2008 - the one with quarterback Beau Sweeney, running back Matt Jelmini, safety Kyle Negrete and all those stars. But along came Tuel, who hadn't thrown a varsity pass, but, Friday, completed 12 of 16 attempts for 121 yards and a touchdown. And, just as important, he carried 15 times for 80 yards and a score with deceptive speed and keen vision out of a shotgun formation."

NOTABLE: Atofau and Simone won't be the only new Cougars with championship trophies from the state of Washington. Defensive end Chris Mastin was a junior mainstay a year ago for Spokane's Lewis & Clark High when the Tigers won the Class 4A title over Bothell.

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