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Week 4 Preview: League Games Underway in the 2Bs; W.F. West, Centralia Face Their Biggest Nonleague Challenges

League Games Underway in the 2Bs; W.F. West, Centralia Face Their Biggest Nonleague Challenges

By Aaron VanTuyl

avantuyl@chronline.com
League play is in full swing in the SWW 2B League, and the Week 4 slate of games offers plenty in the way of measuring sticks.

The biggest? Onalaska visiting Napavine in a Mountain Division showdown. The Loggers have jumped out of the gates to the tune of a 3-0 record, winning those games by a combined score of 132-20. Sophomore fullback Ashton Haight has run for 395 yards and five touchdowns already, and a solid backfield (with sophomore quarterback Lucas Kreger and senior running back Lazaro Rodriguez) has helped the Loggers put up plenty of points.

Napavine, though, offers up the Loggers’ biggest challenge. The defending state champions’ only loss came to No. 1 Kalama in overtime in Week 2, and they’re fresh off a 60-21 Mountain Division win over Morton-White Pass. The Tigers have plenty of offensive weapons and junior quarterback Dawson Stanley had his best passing game yet against MWP, going 9 of 16 for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Throw in the fact that Napavine hasn’t lost to Onalaska since 2005 (though, to be fair, the Loggers were a 1A team until 2012) and Friday’s game makes a great litmus test for Onalaska.

The other big Mountain Division game is in Rainier, where Morton-White Pass visits a Mountaineers team that has yet to give up a point in three games. The Timberwolves are 1-2, but two of those losses are to Napavine and No. 7 Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, meaning it could be a nice test game for the Timberwolves.
W.F. West (3-0) at Lake Washington (3-0)

It should be the biggest nonleague test of the season for the Bearcats.

W.F. West heads north to Kirkland on Friday to face 3A Lake Washington, a bigger school with a bigger roster and more size on both sides of the line.

“This is a big test for us. We’re excited about it,” Bearcat coach Bob Wollan said. “It’s a really good challenge for us this week, and we need that. We’ve got to figure out where we’re at.”

Quarterback Michael Buchanan has been a bright spot for the Kangaroos, hitting 17 of 26 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Stanwood in Week 2.

Senior running back Ryan Clifford, meanwhile, opened the season with three touchdowns and 185 rushing yards in a 44-25 win over Marysville-Getchell. He scored three more touchdowns in Week 3’s 30-6 win over Kelso, with 147 rushing yards and a 29-yard receiving TD.

“He’s good — really good,” Wollan said. “They run a lot of the zone stuff, and he has the ability to just put those big linemen on top of you, and just hit a gap and make a cut and he’s gone.”

The big draw, though, comes on the line. Senior tackle William Pliska clocks in a 6-4, 280 pounds, and Walterius Jones — son of former Seahawks tackle Walter Jones — fills another tackle spot at 6-0, 305.

The Bearcats won last season’s meeting, 28-14 (and also in Week 4) in Chehalis, though last year’s W.F. West lineup was noticeably bigger, particularly on the lines, while Lake Washington returns plenty of its standouts.

“I think they just seem more mature — just bigger, stronger, faster,” Wollan said. “Just talking to (Kelso coach Steve) Amrine, he felt like the defensive line was the strength of their team. They’re going to have a huge size advantage on us in the core, and we kind of knew we’d run into that this year.”

The Bearcats are coming off a 47-6 home win over Highline, and one of the highlights was the chance to put plenty of reserves in for varsity reps.

“They put a drive together at the start of the fourth quarter with kind of a whole different group, and ran the ball,” Wollan said. “(Running back) Carver Brennan really stood out, and Damien Lopez at fullback did some really good things, but that whole second/third group, I thought they did really well.”

W.F. West and Lake Washington kick off at 7 p.m. Friday night in Kirkland.
Kelso (2-1) at Centralia (1-2)

There’s plenty of connective tissue between the Tigers and their Week 4 opponent.

The opponents played the same two teams in their first weeks of the 2017 season; Centralia lost to R.A. Long (54-21) and then beat Mark Morris (26-6), while 3A Kelso beat Mark Morris 40-0 and then beat R.A. Long 48-21.

The Hilanders’ only loss came in Week 3, when they were beaten 30-6 by 3A Lake Washington — the same Kangaroo team the Tigers’ crosstown rival, W.F. West, is playing on Friday.

And Kelso is coached by Steve Amrine, who coached the Tigers for two years (2011-12). Since then, the Hilanders are 2-1 against Centralia.

Senior Max McDaniel leads the attack. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back ran for 162 yards and three touchdowns against the Tigers last year, and with quarterback A.J. Hoggatt out this week he’ll have an even bigger load to carry.

“They run a lot of, basically, power football,” Centralia coach Jeremy Thibault said. “(McDaniel) is just a big, tough kid. They give the ball to him a bunch and he runs really hard.”

One of the biggest concerns for the Tigers, with their Evergreen 2A Conference opener at Black Hills coming in Week 5, is keeping players eligible and healthy. Each time someone returns to the team, Thibault said, it seems like another player falls off the roster.

The good news? The coaching staff has seen players develop into starters since spring ball.

“I think they’re getting better,” he said, “I just wish we had some accelerated growth.”

The Tigers were oh-so-close to a win in Sequim on Friday, but a tipped pass in the end zone in the game’s final minute landed in a Sequim receiver’s hands for the go-ahead touchdown.

The lesson?

“Knock the ball down. I mean, if our kid doesn’t touch the ball, I think it’s an incomplete pass,” Thibault said. “We’ll get in there. Our football IQ is getting better every week.”

Centralia and Kelso kick off at 7 p.m. Friday night at Tiger Stadium. The nonleague contest is also the annual Shriners Game.
Around the Area

Rochester (2-1) hosts No. 4 Montesano in a nonleague game. … Tenino takes another stab at a road game in the Columbia River Gorge, facing Stevenson (2-0) in a nonleague contest a week after the Beavers’ game against White Salmon was cancelled. … No. 7 Pe Ell-Willapa Valley plays at No. 10 Toledo in a nonleague SWW 2B League game, while Mossyrock (0-3) looks for its first win with South Bend (3-0) in town and Winlock tries to break into the win column with Chief Leschi (0-3) visiting.

Note: Life Christian forfeited its scheduled Saturday Mountain Division game against No. 4 Adna due to a lack of healthy players, improving the Pirates’ record to 4-0.

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