Winning Streaks to Championships

Can they do it?

This year is an awesome time to be alive for Garfield football fans. The Bulldogs are 8-0 for the first time in living memory, the University of Washington is ranked #4 in the country, and the Seahawks, well, are the Seahawks. Both the Bulldogs and Huskies emerged as unlikely champions, yet the question is whether they can sustain their streaks of victory. As for the Seahawks, will this year finally be the year that Russell Wilson runs the ball for a Superbowl victory?

Garfield High School: 339

I dearly remember the Homecoming football game of 2015. A dark rainy night at Memorial Stadium, where we lost to Cleveland 21-28 as part of our 5-4 season of defeat. This Homecoming, the Bulldogs blasted Sammamish apart, with a final score of 54-0. Yet this game was a drop in a stream of success that the Bulldogs are swimming in. Garfield is undefeated, ranked 10th in the Metro league, and recently demolished longtime rival Rainier Beach.

These victories were made possible by Garfield’s powerful line, especially the defensive. “Obviously we have one of the best offenses in the state but we also have one of the best defenses in the state,” Coach Joey Thomas said. “We’re #3 in interceptions in the state, we’re #3 in sacks, and I think we’re rated #2 defense or #1 defense in the state. Defense wins championships, offense sells tickets.”

Garfield’s success also originates in the mental game Coach Thomas teaches. “The players have bought in,” Thomas said. “And more importantly, they believe. When you believe in yourself, and you believe in the person next to you, you can accomplish anything.”

Garfield may have shined on Friday night, but the floodlights also illuminated the team’s weaknesses: multiple penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Coach Thomas knows that this is an area that will need to see improvement, especially if the Bulldogs want to continue into the playoffs. “I think we have to work on not beating ourselves,” said Thomas. “Cut out the foolish penalties, not getting personal fouls, the attention to detail, because the room for error is shrinking, because the teams are getting better […] If we can improve in those things, I like our chances against anybody.”

This Friday, the Bulldogs will play against O’Dea, the #1 ranked team in the Metro league. Can they win? It definitely won’t be easy, but Garfield is undefeated for a reason. We have the power and potential, and anything is possible. In the words of Coach Thomas, we have no limits except the ones we place on ourselves.

University of Washington: 345

The Huskies have been the recipients of countless comparisons to the glory days of the early ‘90s. Their 7-0 record has not been this good since 1992, and their unquestionable victories reminds older fans of the 1991 team, who were the Pac-10 champions. UW has filled the gigantic pawprints of the past, and is planning to make new ones of its own.

Let’s take a closer look. At the time, UW’s exciting win over Stanford (44-6) during Week 5 proved the Huskies were real contenders for the playoffs. But it seems that Stanford’s high ranking was undeserved. The teams Stanford beat prior to the game- Kansas State, UCLA, USC- are all sub-par, and after losing to Washington, Stanford went on to also lose to Washington State.

It’s a similar story with the Oregon victory. The Ducks, with their 2-5 record and five straight losses, don’t compare to the opposition that the Huskies will face later in the season.

The Huskies have been excelling and working hard, but the teams they’ve played against- Rutgers (record of 2-5), Idaho (4-3), Portland State (2-5), Arizona (2-5), and Oregon State (2-5)- are low-ranking teams with terrible records. Average teams can look amazing when they beat terrible teams, but it doesn’t mean that they’re actually good.

According to ESPN’s projections, the Huskies have a 67.9% chance to win the Pac 12 championship. Their only competition seems to be Washington State (5-2), who is dangerous, yet inconsistent. UW will play WSU in the Apple Cup on November 25th, and this game will most likely determine the Pac 12 championship.

Washington is now ranked #4, which drastically improves their chances of being chosen as one of the top four teams for the playoffs (though schedule strength is considered when choosing picks and the Huskies are weak in that area). I would bet on Washington being the Pac 12 champion and possibly being chosen for the playoffs, but their journey will probably  end there. Their chances of winning out- a 30.1% likelihood, according to ESPN- are very slim. Alabama, Clemson, and Michigan are just too good, and will eat the Huskies alive.

Seahawks: 320

It’s been a less-than-satisfactory couple years for Hawks fans. After a heart wrenching loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX and a knock from playoffs last year, the road to victory seems like a long one for the good ol’ blue and green. However, this year’s 5-1-1 record has us right back in playoff contention.

Granted, the year started pretty weak. Only scoring 15 points in the first two games, the Hawks were as underwhelming as ever. But that all turned around week three. With a 37-14 win over legendary rivals the San Francisco 49ers and a week five bye, the team topped the National Football Conference West Division. From there, two more wins against the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons, plus the laughably bad Week 8 Cardinals tie that left many fans’ mouths gaping, have our beloved Seahawks cemented as first place in the West.

When it comes down to it, we have to be honest with ourselves: these Seahawks are not the same ones we saw hoisting the Lombardi trophy over their shoulders in 2014. The loss of running back Marshawn Lynch has dealt a serious blow to the Hawks’ playing style and overall mojo. We’re seeing more fumbles, more missteps, and downright more mistakes than we have the previous three years of domination.

So, can we win it all? Maybe. According to ESPN, the Seahawks boast 8-1 odds of going all the way this year. Citing demanding defense and clutch consistency by wide receiver Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham, the website claims the Hawks are far from out of the running so far. Keep in mind, however, this isn’t the same team new Seahawks fans are used to seeing, and don’t be surprised if we find ourselves falling right back into a remake of the dreaded 2004 Super Bowl. But remember, Hawks fans, anything can happen, and we are far from nonbelievers.