Week 1 Preview: Let The Games Begin
SUIT UP: Two Matchups Between Local Teams Highlight Week 1 Schedule
By Matt Baide
It’s finally time. No more predictions, speculation, talk or hype, it’s time to put on the pads for real and find out which team will reign supreme in The Chronicle’s coverage area and the state of Washington.
This year appears to be as wide open as ever. In the 2A ranks, there has been a lot of talk around the two time defending champion Hockinson, and rightly so. The loss of Sawyer Racanelli possibly opens the door for other 2A teams to make a run at a title.
In the 1A ranks, defending champion Colville returns some great players to try and make a repeat run at a state title. Alex Dyer is gone from Kalama and that allows the door to swing open for 2B teams throughout the state.
With renewed optimism for every team and a 0-0 record, the first week is usually filled with a lot of confidence and hyped up play after hitting teammates for the last two weeks.
No longer, it is time to hit someone with a different jersey.
The game of the week in the ‘A’ ranks is the Scatter Creek Showdown between Tenino and Rochester on the black turf, as is tradition in Week 1 for both teams. Tenino hasn’t won this game since 2016, a 34-24 win in Rochester.
“We’ve got a lot of things to iron out to prepare for what they do schematically. They’re big and physical up front, that’s a challenge that we’re going to have to face,” Rochester coach John Moorhead said. “Their strength is their offensive and defensive line. Across the board, they’re bigger, but we think we’re quicker than they are. We want to execute at a faster pace and quicker than they do.”
The last time this game was in Tenino was in 2017, with the Warriors winning a close contest, 23-20. The Warriors dominated last year’s contest, 53-20, in Rochester.
Tenino has a solid chance of earning the win this year with experience at several skill positions and the home field advantage.
Rochester isn’t going to take this game lightly, especially with the rivalry between these two teams.
“It’s up there. The other ones (I’ve been a part of), it wasn’t a small town rivalry football. It’s a unique experience. Some of the others you have a rival, but it’s not a town versus town, it’s another high school in that district,” Moorhead said in his third year coaching in the rivalry. “This one, because of that, city versus city, it makes it cooler in my opinion. Coach Nagel in the first year, named it the Scatter Creek Showdown, he did a great job promoting it. It seems pretty good natured, kids play with great sportsmanship the whole time.”
The Bearcats open the season on the road against River Ridge. W.F. West defeated River Ridge 28-27 in Chehalis in last season’s opener. The Hawks ended last season at 6-4 overall, falling to North Kitsap 33-22 in the crossover round to end the season. River Ridge lost eight first team all-league players and is relatively inexperienced coming into 2019.
Centralia will also hit the road this week and travel south on I-5 to take on Columbia River. The Tigers fell 49-0 to the Chieftains in Tiger Stadium to open last year. Columbia River was 4-6 last season and fell to Black Hills in the crossover round, 45-7. The Chieftains are under a new head coach this season in Brett Smedley and have inexperience at a lot of positions, losing six all-league selections from last season.
The game of the week in the 2B’s is the annual battle between Adna and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley. The Titans last defeated Adna in a 46-0 win in 2015. Since then, it’s been all Pirates, winning 23-6 in 2016, 35-14 in 2017 and blowing out PWV last season 35-0 in Adna.
“Last couple years, we’ve gotten them. The first couple years, they took it to us,” Adna coach KC Johnson said. “Adna-Pe Ell is a big rivalry, Adna-Valley is a big rivalry. Now with those two together, it’s a big one. It’s why we play them in the opener.”
The Pirates know they have to key in on two big seniors: Max Smith and Peter Hamilton.
“It’s stop Hamilton and Smith. They’re both really strong farm boys, running the ball hard. We have to get after them,” Johnson said. “They’re an impressive group. They got beat by us and Onalaska and won everything else. They had Northwest Christian (Colbert) beat, a few mistakes here and there cost them that playoff win.”
It seems unlikely for the game to be a blowout. Adna has played well throughout the summer and comes into camp hoping to be a finely tuned machine once the opening whistle blows. The Titans are a senior-heavy squad who don’t want to lose to the Pirates anymore.
Each team knows this is one of the biggest games of the week and season.
“They pride themselves on blue collar work ethic and farm boys. We have that too, it should be the game of the week,” Johnson said. “I don’t think there’s a bigger game this week. We’ve got to be road warriors this year. Growing up in Adna and playing in Valley in the hay days, growing up out there, I’ve been in a 1,000 games. I have a lot of respect for that program, we’re expecting a war.”
Napavine will open the season by traveling across the state to Spangle to take on Liberty. The two teams met last season in Cathlamet in a 41-7 win for the Tigers.
“I don’t think you can really make it normal. We’re going to get up, head over Friday, play Friday and try to keep travel all on the same day,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “We’ll come back Saturday morning. Seven hour drive, it’s going to be a challenge to keep them focused. We’re playing a good team.”
It was a down year for Liberty last year with a 4-6 record overall and missing the state playoffs.
“They bring back a lot of guys, lost two guys up front. They bring back a really nice supporting cast, a couple guys up front are plus lineman,” Fay said. “I expect them to be pretty good, I don’t know if they’ll do anything different than they normally do, but I expect to be similar to what we’ve seen in the past.”
The Tigers will get a chance to see what their offense is like without a Stanley at quarterback for the first time in years but that won’t change the Napavine offense.
“We’re going to do the things we’ve done in the past. You won’t see any big changes,” Fay said. “Laythan has done a nice job of growing into that role and we feel pretty comfortable with where he’s at.”
Napavine and Liberty played in the 2017 state championship game, a 34-16 Tiger victory. The Lancers made it back to the state title game in 2018 but lost to Kalama, 28-27.
The Loggers will hit the road on Friday to take on the Ducks in Toutle. Onalaska has dominated Toutle Lake in football in recent years, having won the last five games between the two teams.
The last time the game was in Toutle was a close contest, with the Loggers escaping with a 20-14 win. Last season, Onalaska torched the Ducks 56-0 at home. The Ducks were 1-8 overall last season.
Winlock begins the season in Ocean Shores against North Beach. The Cardinals defeated the Hyaks 21-6 in Winlock last season. North Beach finished in last place in the Coastal Division in 2018 and didn’t record a win.
Rainier hosts Raymond on Friday to open the season. The Mountaineers defeated the Seagulls 27-10 last season in Raymond. Rainier is hoping for at least a crossover game this season under first-year head coach Andy Bartell.
On Saturday, Morton-White Pass will host Toledo in Morton. The two teams last met in the regular season in 2015, a 30-7 win for the Indians in Toledo.
It should be a familiar matchup for both teams, having played against each other for 10 snaps each in the Winlock jamboree last Saturday, although neither coach put his full arsenal of plays on display.