Week 6 Notebook: League Performance Imperative With Crossover Setup
By Aaron VanTuyl
There was more on the line than just a league win last week in Onalaska.
The Loggers beat Rainier, stayed undefeated at 6-0, and stayed tied for first in the SWW 2B League Mountain Division. The loss, meanwhile, dropped Rainier to 5-1 and turned the three-way tie into a two-team race between Ony and top-ranked Adna.
More importantly, though, it gave the Loggers the chance to breathe a sigh of relief.
The Mountain Division is, top to bottom, the toughest 2B league in the state. (Lots of people are saying that!) And the SWW 2B League (which includes all of District 4’s 2B teams) gets seven spots in the state bracket.
And those seven spots will depend on the outcome of six crossover games, featuring the top four teams from the Mountain, River and Coastal divisions, and then a three-way tiebreaker two days later.
When the league was created in 2016, though, the district got to decide where each team would play in the state bracket. The plan was that each division’s champion would get the No. 1 seed on a three-year rotating basis (provided they win a crossover game against someone else’s No. 4 team), and the crossovers would follow the same script for three years and then change.
This year, though, the WIAA’s format is different. Once teams qualify (through Week 10 crossover games, mainly), seeding committees at the WIAA place them in a bracket.
The theory is that the human element (I am, coincidentally, one of those humans) will prevent any head-scratching first-round matchups and create the best opportunity for what are perceived to be the best teams in each classification to meet in the championship game.
The head-scratchers, however, probably won’t be prevented in the crossover round next month, thanks to the locked-in crossover script.
Whether you subscribe to the AP poll, Scoreczar’s spreadsheet algorithm or Evans Rankings’ computer board, the Mountain Division has four teams in the top 10 (Adna, Onalaska, Rainier and Napavine).
The River and Coastal divisions have a total of two (Kalama for sure and Toledo or Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, depending on the source).
That means two of the six crossover games are going to look pretty funny sitting next to each other. The Coastal Division champion hosts the River Division’s fourth-place team; at the moment, that looks like Pe Ell-Willapa Valley hosting Winlock.
And then the River Division champion — most likely defending state champ Kalama — hosts the Mountain Division’s fourth-place team in a loser-out game.
At this point, that River 1 vs. Mountain 4 crossover game seems destined to leave a top-10 team — a team with a good chance to host a first-round state playoff game — on the outside looking in come November 4.
And that’s why Onalaska could sleep a little easier after beating Rainier. Unless something wild happens, those four Mountain Division teams are fighting to avoid the No. 4 spot and a crossover with a frisky Kalama team; by securing a win over one of the other three, the Loggers have one foot across the finish line in the playoff race.
And Rainier, ranked No. 3 in last week’s AP poll, now knows it has to beat either top-ranked Adna or perennial power Napavine to avoid a crossover date with beautiful views and season-ending consequences in Kalama.
That’s a tough fumble to lose. It’s also a ringing endorsement for the state’s seeding committee playoff format, which was created directly in response to complaints about situations like this at the state level.
Here’s a few more takeaways from Week 6.
Toledo’s Troubles: Look, I still believe in Toledo. They’re 2-4, but — for the third week in a row — I feel like they’re the best 2-4 team in the state. That being said, the Indians play at Wahkiakum (a tough place to play) on Friday. It’s essentially a battle for second place in the River Division, and there’s one good argument against finishing second in the River. The River 2 hosts a crossover with the Mountain 3, while the River 3 plays the Coastal Division runner-up. Not to knock the Coastal Division, but in three games this season Mountain teams have outscored Coastal teams 90-20 — and Toledo’s already lost to Rainier, Napavine and Adna.
Welcome to the Show, Winlock: Winlock’s win over Mossyrock means the Cardinals really only have to beat Toutle Lake on Friday to seal a crossover spot. And the Ducks are, to put it nicely, having a rough go of it this season; Toutle Lake’s been shut out three times and its closest game was a 32-6 loss to Life Christian. It’s a nice scenario for the Cardinals, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
Pirates Expand the Playbook: After Adna’s win over Napavine in Week 5, coach K.C. Johnson said they would likely work out of the shotgun against Life Christian in Week 6 to tune up a few things before the final stretch of key Mountain Division games. It all looked fine in Lakewood; quarterback Braden Thomas completed 13 passes in the first half alone, mostly on swing passes and short routes. His most impressive completion, though, was a bullet through a tight window to hit Camden Ryan on a cross in the end zone for a touchdown in the second quarter; that type of thing should be a nice complement to Adna’s to-this-point productive power run game.
Rough for Rainier: It’s hard to take too much away from Onalaska’s win over Rainier. The teams fumbled 14 times; Rainier quarterback Zach Lofgren (their best player) missed a few crucial snaps in the fourth quarter after leaving with an injury; and each team had at least one weird, big play for a touchdown that might not happen twice. The Loggers could have made things easier on themselves by holding on to the ball, but scoring the last three touchdowns in a wet affair to beat a ranked opponent is a good block to build on before they try to tackle Napavine on Friday.
Eastside Report: Tri-Cities prep beat Columbia-Burbank (4-2) to stay undefeated. In District 7, meanwhile, Asotin (4-2) beat Kittitas; Colfax (4-2) beat Liberty (2-4); Northwest Christian (5-1) beat Davenport; and Chewelah (3-3) beat Springdale. (As much as it would warm my heart to see Chewelah — home of former Chronicle sportswriter Brandon Hansen — reach the state playoffs, the Cougars would have to edge out the likes of Asotin, Colfax, NWC, Reardan (5-1) or Wilbur-Creston (5-1) to get one of District 7’s three spots into the state bracket.)
Lewis County Fantasy Football
Once again, a kid from Onalaska posted the highest point total in this fictional fantasy football league.
This time, however, it was not fullback Ashton Haight. Quarterback Lucas Kreger, rather, had the biggest night in the Loggers’ meaningful victory over previously-undefeated Rainier, passing for 111 yards — a number that jumps off the state sheet in the Loggers’ offense. He tossed a long touchdown to Kyle Hamilton, ran in three touchdowns and piled up 140 yards on the ground (with touchdown runs of 46 and 49 yards) and added a conversion run to pick up a whopping 42 points.
That, naturally, makes him the only member of this week’s 40-point club, though there were plenty of productive performances from local gridiron stars.
30-Point Club: PWV’s Max Smith went off against South Bend, running for 168 yards and three touchdowns with two conversions for 38 points. … Winlock quarterback Bryce Cline ran for 113 yards, scored three touchdowns, and passed for 62 yards and another score for 35 points in a win over Mossyrock. … W.F. West running back Lafe Johnson had 152 yards and three touchdowns for 33 points in a blowout of Rochester.
20-Point Club: Adna’s Braden Thomas threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns, with 54 rushing yards and another score, for 25 points in a blowout of LCA. … Napavine sophomore Laythan Demarest had 128 rushing yards and two touchdowns for 24 points, with quarterback Dawson Stanley adding 59 rushing yards, 138 passing yards and a touchdown both ways for 20 points in a win over MWP. … PWV’s Kollin Jurek had 109 rushing yards, 22 receiving yards and two touchdowns for 24 points in a thumping of South Bend.
Notables: Adna’s Chance Fay scored twice and had 42 rushing yards (on just three carries) for 16 points. Pirate receiver Brady Collins added 73 receiving yards and a score, all in the first quarter, for 13 points. … Mossyrock’s TJ Villanueva turned in another solid line, with 133 rushing yards and 27 receiving yards for 15 points. On the other side, Winlock’s Noah Patching had 62 receiving yards and a score for 12 points. … Colbey Cherrington had 51 rushing yards and a touchdown for 11 points in a loss to Kalama. … Onalaska’s Ashton Haight had 67 rushing yards and ran in a conversion for 8 points. … Centralia’s Blaine Wass had 47 receiving yards with a touchdown for 10 points in a loss to Black Hills.