By Aaron VanTuyl
Two big 2B games will be played on Saturday this week. Onalaska hosts Mossyrock in the annual Old Helmet rivalry game, which was moved to Saturday due to a lack of available officials on Friday night, and Napavine hosts Kalama in another Saturday game. The defending state champion Tigers are currently ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, with Kalama sitting at No. 2. Napavine beat Kalama, 41-6, in the opening round of the state playoffs last season, though the Chinooks return most of their skill players and are coming off a defense-fueled 24-16 win over 2A Woodland last week.
Update: Winlock’s Week 2 road game at Santiam High School (Ore.) has been moved to Saturday in Winlock, with a 5 p.m. kickoff.
Here’s the rest of what’s going on in the local prep football scene:
Mark Morris (0-1) at Centralia (0-1)
First-year Centralia coach Jeremy Thibault said he’s probably watched more film since Thursday than ever before in preparation for this week’s home opener against Mark Morris.
Needless to say, there’s plenty the Tigers are trying to improve upon in Week 2.
“We started with everything, from the walk out of the locker room,” he said. “We screwed that up. That was kind of a debacle, and it was my fault.”
That bit of planning was handled by Toledo assistant coach Ron Gaul last year, Thibault pointed out; on Thursday, the walkouts were thrown together on the fly.
“We couldn’t get that portion of the game down,” he joked. “It was just, ‘Crap.’ From the start it was bad.”
They’re hoping to avoid the series of small mistakes — including a trio of high snaps on punts that turned into three touchdowns — that led to their 54-21 Week 1 loss to R.A. Long this time around.
“I think we match up well,” Thibault said. “I just hope we don’t have any more snaps going over punters’ heads, and stuff like that.”
The fact that the team is still getting used to a new system likely played a role, along with general inexperience.
“I thought we were prepared, but, I mean, these kids haven’t been used to our style,” Thibault said. “And a 21-point (deficit) really isn’t anything to hold their head on. The kids just haven’t experienced that yet, that it’s okay to be down. You can still run your stuff. You’re more than capable of coming back, and we didn’t go that direction.”
Dawson Fritz leads the Monarchs’ shotgun wing-T offense. The 5-10, 170 pound junior was 7 of 18 against Kelso with 50 passing yards and 12 rushing yards. Noah Mejia, a 5-11, 195 pound junior, added 54 rushing yards on 13 carries. The Monarchs managed just 104 yards of offense in the loss, though Kelso scored on a punt return, a kickoff return and a pick-6.
Thibault added that Ryan Jensen, who moved to center about four days before last week’s game, was the Tigers’ most consistent player in the R.A. Long game.
“And he was actually hurt, so it was really nice that he battled,” he said, “and he didn’t give up. … He was a good bright spot.”
A handful of JV players who entered the game in the second half also played well, he added, and quarterback Kolby Baird threw the ball well.
“We just need to catch it,” he added. “And those kids will get better.”
Centralia and Mark Morris kick off at 7 p.m. Friday night at Tiger Stadium.
Note: The Monarchs’ line coach is Zach Phelps, an English teacher at Mark Morris High School. Phelps, a 2011 Centralia High School graduate, was a standout on the line for the Tigers during his prep days — when, coincidentally, Thibault was on the Tigers’ staff as an assistant — and was a starter during his four-year college career with Pacific Lutheran University.
W.F. West (1-0) at Ridgefield (1-0)
W.F. West coach Bob Wollan feels like the Spudders are underrated.
It’s not tough to see why. Ridgefield, a 4-5 team last season, was picked to finish fifth in the seven-team Greater St. Helens 2A League by The Columbian, but opened the season with a resounding 41-0 win over Castle Rock.
The Bearcats, of course, will have a better grasp on that theory after Friday night’s Week 2 game, when they travel south to face the Spudders.
While scouting Columbia River prior to last year’s district crossover game, W.F. West saw the Spudders live playing the Chieftains; Ridgefield won that Week 9 game 22-17. (W.F. West went on to beat Columbia River, 7-6, a week later.)
“They kind of put it to them, and I think they’re really a team on the rise,” Wollan said.
It starts with their quarterback, returning starter Dawson Lieurance, a junior who stands 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds.
“He’s smooth. He just has a real nice composure, and he can make all the throws,” Wollan said. “He especially throws the ball well on the move, and they have four or five guys that can go catch it.”
Lieurance passed for 134 yards and four touchdowns last week; two of those went to 5-9, 150-pound senior Jeremy Martin, who also ran in two scores against the Rockets.
“It’s their second year in (coach Kim Ulman’s shotgun wing-T) system, and they’ve got a lot of kids back,” Wollan said. “I think they’re playing really confident.”
So are the Bearcats, after last week’s 39-6 win over Hoquiam.
“I’m just really happy with our effort,” Wollan said. “We really talk about hustle grades, and getting to the ball, and I thought that was probably the signature thing we had going for us.”
Quarterback Nole Wollan returns to the lineup this week, which should open up the offense a bit more.
“I think we’ll probably throw a little more, and our quarterback will run the ball more, and then probably a little more no-huddle stuff,” Bob Wollan said. “We showed that a little at the jamboree (on Aug. 25). It’s just a little more pace, but Ridgefield’ll probably have a lot to say about that.”
Wollan added that Jack Mallonee and Joey Wylam, both returning starters, played well on the offensive line against Hoquiam, and defensive lineman Wyatt Deskins had a good game.
“We’ve been moving him around a lot, and technique-wise he’s doing great,” Wollan added.”
W.F. West and Ridgefield kick off at 7 p.m. Friday night in Ridgefield.
Around the Area
Rochester hosts 3A Hudson’s Bay in its home opener. … Tenino tries to break into the win column with Bellevue Christian in town. … Pe Ell-Willapa Valley heads east to face Morton-White Pass in the unofficial Clash of the Hyphens in Randle. The Titans, ranked 10th, are coming off a 35-14 loss to Adna, while the Timberwolves beat rival Mossyrock 59-0 last Friday. … Toledo, after a 19-18 loss to 1A Charles Wright, heads to the coast to face Ilwaco in a nonleague game. … Winlock (0-1) heads south to play Santiam High School in Mill City, Ore. … No. 5 Adna hosts Toutle Lake (0-1) in the Pirates’ home opener.