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Originally published Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 7:53 PM

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Football titans Bothell, Skyline collide in opener

It's a nonleague game, but Bothell and Skyline — both ranked in The Seattle Times preseason top five — believe there's a lot to prove when they meet in Friday night's season opener.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Two giants of the Class 4A football ranks will square off Friday with nothing on the line.

No league standings at stake. No spots in the playoffs up for grabs. Nothing, really, but this: It's Bothell vs. Skyline, and the Cougars have knocked off Skyline only once in six tries.

Both are ranked in the Times' preseason top five. They meet at 7 p.m. at Skyline High School.

"Does it mean much for the standings or anything? No," Bothell coach Tom Bainter said. "But certainly it would be great to know that we're up there amongst teams like that."

Skyline won the state championship last year. Bothell lost in the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005, but the Cougars are back with playmakers across the field.

Yet no one stands out more than Skyline quarterback Max Browne, a USC commit who tossed 45 touchdown passes last year. The Spartans have other weapons, but Browne is the engine for a team favored to repeat.

"I'm watching him on the (ESPN) Elite 11, and I'm watching the part where they're down on the beach doing the Navy SEAL training," Bainter said. "And I'm thinking, 'Our kids aren't getting training like this, how the heck are we going to stop him?' And the fact is, you're not going to stop him.

"How do you contain him? I don't know. What is containing him? Is it holding him to five touchdown passes? I don't know."

Perhaps the best way to contain a quarterback like Browne is to limit his chances. Bothell features one of the state's best running-back tandems with oft-injured Danny Wilson and Juanita transfer Darrin Laufasa. Bainter thinks the Cougars must control the clock, chewing up time with long drives that end — and this is crucial — with touchdowns, not field goals. In 2008, when Skyline was led by another former top-rated quarterback in Jake Heaps, Bothell twice settled for field goals in the red zone and lost 16-12.

"If we could control the game on offense, if we could keep the clock going and have long drives and end with touchdowns once we get in the red zone, that's our key," Bainter said. "We talked a lot about that."

Skyline is a team with double-digit starters back, but the Spartans will break in new faces along the lines against run-heavy Bothell.

"That does present a problem," Spartans coach Mat Taylor said, "but one thing that helps us is we have seven of our eight linebackers who played last year back."

The game features plenty of star power.

"Shoot, what's not exciting about this?" Bainter said. "We've been waiting for this for a while."

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