Week 8 Notebook: Surprises Abound as Regular Season Nears Its Close
That was an interesting, and Grid Picks-ruining, Friday night.
Toutle Lake got its first win. Black Hills won its first EvCo title. The Bearcats won a 10th-straight Swamp Cup. And the playoff picture got a little bit more clear.
Here’s the big takeaways from Week 8 of the prep football season.
MWP Crashes the Party: The Timberwolves may have felt a little left out the past few weeks, with the Mountain Division conversation centering on how Napavine, Onalaska and Rainier were going to divvy up the division’s last three crossover spots. “NOT SO FAST, NERDS!” the Timberwolves shouted on Friday night, blanking Rainier in the second half of a 26-12 win that seals the fourth and final playoff spot for MWP. With Dylan Hamre and Gavyn Higdon providing a solid 1-2 running back punch and the defense picking up fumbles, the Timberwolves won the unofficial Mountain Bowl and an extra week of football.
Rainier, meanwhile, is an interesting study in misfortune. The Mountaineers started the season 5-0, moved up to No. 3 in the AP poll after a dominant 53-12 win over Life Christian and led Onalaska 28-12 in the third quarter the next week.
Since that third quarter they’ve been outscored 97-18, gone from 5-0 to 5-3 and been eliminated from the playoffs. It’s been a worst-case scenario; against Onalaska, the Mountaineers had trouble holding onto the ball (both teams did) and lost star quarterback Zach Lofgren for a few plays late in the game. It was more of the same against MWP; Lofgren missed the second half after taking a hard hit and Rainier lost four fumbles.
It’s not all rainbows and roses for MWP, though. After an overtime win over Life Christian and the upset of Rainier, the Timberwolves host No. 1 Adna in Randle to wrap the regular season, and are slotted into a crossover game with defending state champion Kalama (the River Division champ).
Toledo Takes Second: The Indians are locked into second place in the SWW 2B League River Division, thanks to a blowout of Winlock on Friday. Toledo went for glory early, letting senior lineman Hunter Eaton run in a touchdown less than a minute into the game, and got pretty much every skill guy on the roster a shot at scoring. The Indians now get to host a crossover game against the Mountain Division’s third-place team — which, in this case, is just a short backroads drive away in Onalaska. Winlock, meanwhile, hosts Wahkiakum on Friday to determine third and fourth place in the River Division.
Eastside Report: The big 2B news on the east side of the state is Chewelah. The Cougars dominated Northwest Christian (Colbert) in a 42-6 win, scoring 42 unanswered points to wrap up the Northeast 2B League North Division championship a week early. That means NWC is likely to drop in the polls and rankings, and gives 5-3 Chewelah — home of former Chronicle sportswriter Brandon Hansen, now editor of The Chewelah Independent — a more favorable winner-to-state crossover matchup (likely with 4-4 Colfax rather than 6-2 Asotin). The upset, though, speaks to the uncertain nature of the eight state-bound teams east of the mountains; NWC was considered the second-best team (behind undefeated Tri-Cities Prep), and a 36-point loss raises plenty of questions.
Last Call in the Coastal Division: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley thumped Ocosta to stay undefeated in the Coastal Division, but the race for first is going to come down to the final week. The Titans host Ilwaco in Pe Ell, and a loss would mean a three-way tie for first with the Fishermen and Raymond. A win, though, would put PWV in first, Raymond in second and Ilwaco in third, with Ocosta already locked into fourth.
The Titans have been a picture of playing through adversity this season. Starting quarterback Matt Pearson is out with an injury; starting running back Peter Hamilton is out with an injury; and promising young running back Kollin Jurek is out with an injury. They’ve got a lineman (Adam Smaciarz) kicking extra points, flashy Max Smith getting about 30 touches a game and Logan Walker doing just fine under center, and they’re outscoring league foes by an average of 30-11.
Powerhouse Pioneer Bowl: Black Hills made history on Friday night. The Wolves stayed undefeated and beat perennial power Tumwater, 22-17, on the teams’ shared home field, with sophomore Jaden Cote filling in at quarterback for injured Ethan Loveless (with an arm injury, Loveless moved out to receiver). That means Black Hills is at least the Evergreen 2A Conference co-champion, depending on what happens this week; there’s still an off chance that the Wolves could lose at Rochester (2-6) and wind up splitting the title with Tumwater (7-1), provided the Thunderbirds can beat Centralia (2-6).
It’s shaping up to be the first-ever league title for Black Hills, and interrupts a string of eight straight EvCo titles for Tumwater. The last time Tumwater lost a league game was 2009, when the T-Birds lost to Black Hills (19-7) and W.F. West (34-14).
The 2009 Bearcats (led by quarterback Ben Ternan, linebacker Jake Steelhammer, and a sophomore receiver named Mitch Gueller who wouldn’t play the position again for seven years) beat Black Hills 14-0 on Halloween to win the EvCo title. It was the best Black Hills season up to that point, with EvCo Offensive MVP Cody Peterson leading the way; it remains the only league football title for W.F. West since the Bearcats finished in a three-way tie for first in the Black Hills League back in 1987.
EvCo Shakeout: W.F. West (4-4, 2-2 league) needs a win over Aberdeen on Friday to ensure third place in the EvCo standings and the corresponding District 4 crossover bid. The Greater St. Helens 2A League is already settled, with top-ranked defending state champ Hockinson, 7-1 Woodland at No. 1, Woodland at No. 2 and Columbia River locked in at No. 3.
That means the winner-to-state crossover games, unless something crazy happens on Friday, will be Columbia River at Black Hills; Tumwater at Woodland; and W.F. West at Hockinson.
Fantasy Football Roundup
Well, would you look at that. Napavine’s Dawson Stanley, a regular here over the last two season, found his way back to the top of the Lewis County Fantasy Football board thanks to a favorable matchup, good weather and fast turf up at Harry Lang Stadium.
Stanley passed for 240 yards and seven touchdowns, and ran for 64 yards and another score in a blowout of Life Christian. It all added up to a smooth 49 points for Stanley, a senior and the defending SWW 2B League Mountain Division Offensive MVP.
In a rare-ish occurrence, though, Stanley wasn’t the only 40-point guy. PWV’s Max Smith ran for 217 yards and added 48 receiving yards and three total touchdowns for 43 points in a blowout of Ocosta.
30-Point Club: Toledo’s Duke Schaplow was the big standout in a high-scoring Battle of the Cowlitz, running for 226 yards on four carries with two touchdowns for 38 points. … Laythan Demarest ran for 53 yards and tallied 109 receiving yards on three catches — all of which went for touchdowns — for a total of 33 points. … W.F. West’s Jaiyden Camoza ran for 107 and three touchdowns, with a conversion run, for 30 points in a Swamp Cup victory.
20-Point Club: Toledo’s Ethan Buck ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns (26 points) against Winlock. … Adna’s Braden Thomas kept up his fantasy production in a win over Onalaska, running for 106 yards and a touchdown and adding 84 passing yards and two scores for 27 points. … Bearcat quarterback Josiah Johnson passed for 267 yards and three touchdowns (24 points) against Centralia. Tiger quarterback Tanner DeMonbrun ran for 46 yards and a touchdown and threw for 172 yards and two scores (20 points) in the same game.
Notables: Rochester’s Enrique Sanchez ran for 87 yards and a touchdown (14 points) in a win over Aberdeen. … Toledo’s Coleby Cherrington ran in two scores with 67 yards for 18 points. … Onalaska’s Ashton Haight ran for 136 yards and added a conversion run for 15 points. … Adna’s Chance Fay had 47 receiving yards and two scores for 16 points against Ony. … MWP’s Dylan Hamre ran for 53 yards and two touchdowns (17 points) in that key win over Rainier. … Troy Yarter racked up 139 receiving yards and a touchdown (19 points) for W.F. West.