Crossover Preview: Break on Through to the Other Side
By Matt Baide
It has been quite the year in real life football this year. Fantasy football is anything but a fantasy for me at this point, but when it comes to my fandoms, things are looking pretty good as we enter my birthday month.
The Seattle Seahawks, expecting a rebuild year after the Legion of Boom went not-so-quietly into the night, is playing better than I think me or most fans expected. A winning record and in the hunt for a playoff spot halfway through the season? The August me would take that deal in a heartbeat.
Not only is Russell Wilson playing well, but the run game with Chris Carson and Mike Davis looks formidable. Yes, I said Mike Davis. The offensive line? They can block, they must have gone to a Napavine coaching clinic recently.
On defense, the Seahawks have the fourth ranked scoring defense. They know how to tackle, they must have attended the Adna tackling seminar over the summer.
But the biggest story of the football year is without a doubt, the Washington State Cougars. That’s right, the Cougs are sitting atop the Pac-12 at the moment and are No. 8 in the recently released College Football Playoff rankings. That’s right, you read that correctly, 8. That means they have to climb four spots and they are in the biggest dance in college football.
Do I think they’ll actually make it? No, there’s a lot of good teams ahead of them and the undefeated teams in front of them would have to lose at least a game and WSU would have to win out for the Cougars to even have a chance to be at the table of conversation for the playoff.
But as Kevin Garnett once proclaimed, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.
Now, onto prep football:
W.F. West ran all over, literally and figuratively, Aberdeen last Friday to secure the No. 3 spot out of the EvCo and clinch a spot in the crossover round.
Their reward? A date on Friday with the defending state champion Hockinson Hawks.
After winning the title 35-22 over Tumwater in last season’s title game, the Hawks have showed no signs of slowing down. Hockinson is undefeated this year at 8-0 and averages 48.5 points per game with an average margin of victory at 36 points per game. The closest game the Hawks have played all year was a 42-27 win over Woodland in Week 5.
W.F. West head coach Dan Hill has been watching film and knows his team has to be able to slow down quarterback Levi Crum in order to pull the upset.
“They’re really good. Their receivers are very talented, their quarterback is going to be the best quarterback we’ve faced all year,” Hill said. “He’s extremely fast, he’s got a great arm and he’s got a really good ability to avoid pressure and keep his eyes downfield to extend plays and put a lot of pressure on our DBs.”
W.F. West does have some momentum going into this game, having won two straight with a 42-21 win in the Swamp Cup and the 56-23 win over Aberdeen to get into the crossover round.
The achilles heel for the Bearcats this season has been playing on the road. W.F. West was 4-0 at home this season, but just 1-4 on the road, with the only road win coming close by in Centralia. W.F. West played some close games on the road, including a 25-17 loss to EvCo champion Black Hills.
Hill believes Sawyer Racanelli is the best player for the Hawks and will make sure his defense knows where Racanelli is.
“Number 11 (Racanelli), he’s their best football player, and he’s going to draw our attention so we’ve got to make sure we’re taking care of number 11 on the perimeter,” Hill said. “We’ve got to make sure we keep the quarterback in the pocket, emphasis this week has been a lot of maintaining our gap integrity on our pass rush and making sure that we know where number 11 is at all times so we can have him covered over and under.”
On offense, Jaiyden Camoza had a record-setting game last week and Lafe Johnson will be receiving some carries out of the backfield. With Josiah Johnson slinging the ball around to his various targets, the plan is to spread the ball around in order to keep the defense on their heels.
“The plan is always to use an assortment of weapons. They’re a really good football team and the defending state champs, ranked No. 1. We’re going to have to be able to run the ball a little bit and we’re going to have to throw the ball a little bit,” Hill said. “The more guys that get hands on the ball, the harder it is to defend us, so that’s the idea, to get as many guys the ball as possible and try to keep them from knowing where it’s going.”
It would appear the odds are stacked against the Bearcats, but anything is possible.
Seven local 2B football teams will be vying for a spot into the State 2B football bracket on Thursday and Saturday, with two matchups featuring local teams against each other.
The most intriguing game of the week goes to Onalaska against Toledo, with the game moved to Centralia on Thursday due to Toledo’s field not being in playing condition.
Toledo finished the regular season 5-4 overall and is on a three game win streak after taking down Wahkiakum, Winlock and Mossyrock to end the season. The Indians were 4-1 in the River Division with the lone loss coming on the road against Kalama, 32-13, to claim the No. 2 spot in the division.
Onalaska was able to finish third in the Mountain Division with a close loss to Napavine followed the next week by a tough game against Adna 27-6. The Loggers gained some momentum heading into the crossover round with a 58-6 win over Life Christian on Saturday in Lakewood. Onalaska finished 7-2 overall and 3-2 in the Mountain Division.
The other game with local teams facing off is in Menlo where the Titans will welcome Winlock. The Cardinals battled for third place with Wahkiakum last week in Winlock and fell 41-22 to fall into the four spot in the River Division. It is the first trip to the playoffs for Winlock since 2010.
It will not be an easy task for Winlock, as the Titans rolled through the Coastal Division and are on a five game win streak entering Thursday’s game. PWV rolled to the Coastal Division title for the third straight season after a 42-0 win in Pe Ell last Friday. During the five game win streak, PWV is averaging 39.6 points per game and has an average margin of victory of 32 points.
The two teams have two common opponents in South Bend and North Beach. PWV defeated the Hyaks 46-24 and South Bend 42-0. Winlock earned a 21-6 win against North Beach but lost 32-14 to South Bend in Week 2.
Morton-White Pass is into the crossover round and has the tall task of taking on the defending state champion Chinooks. Kalama is 7-2 this season with their only losses coming against 2A Woodland in the opening week and against Adna on the road, 27-17, in Week 3.
The Timberwolves defeated Rainier 26-12 on the road in Week 8 to secure the No. 4 spot out of the Mountain Division. They didn’t gain any confidence last Friday, hosting Adna in a 56-0 loss.
Speaking of the Pirates, Adna hosts Ocosta on Thursday in a crossover game. The Pirates have allowed a total of 59 points this season, with the most coming against Kalama in a 27-17 win and Toledo in a 33-15 win. The Pirates are undefeated and average 41.1 points per game.
Ocosta finished the regular season 5-3 and 3-3 in the Coastal Division. The Wildcats have a little momentum coming into this game after a 29-14 win over Chief Leschi in Week 9.
Napavine hosts Ilwaco on Thursday in a 2v3 matchup. The Tigers have won four straight coming into the crossover matchup, including a 48-27 win over Rainier in Week 9. After a 50-13 loss to Adna in Week 5, Napavine has averaged 48 points per game and won by an average of 30 points.
Ilwaco finished third in the Coastal Division after falling to PWV 42-0 in the final week of the season in a game to determine the division champ. The Fishermen finished 5-3 overall and and 4-2 in division games. Ilwaco has lost two straight going into Thursday.
The loser of the 2v3 games will have one more chance to reach the state tournament on Saturday in a Kansas tiebreaker at Tiger Stadium in Centralia. If a No. 1 were to fall, they would also join the tiebreaker and while that hasn’t happened since the three division format has been adapted, anything is possible.