After concluding the Lewis County prep football tour last Saturday, visiting nine schools in three days, now is the lull between practice starting and actual games. Waiting for games isn’t fun, but at least college football is starting on Labor Day weekend to keep our appetites in check until the first Friday night lights come on.
I’ve put together all of the schedules for our prep football teams, which will print in our 2019 prep football tab in the Thursday, Sept. 5 issue of The Chronicle.
Until then, I took a look at the slate of games and chose the five I’m looking forward to the most.
Starting from the bottom:
5. Napavine at Onalaska, Friday, Oct. 18
This is a matchup of two teams who played a wild regular season game in 2018. Due to our deadlines last year, I was only able to stay for the first half. What I saw was the Loggers take a buzz saw to the Napavine Tigers for two quarters, only to have Dawson Stanley lead the Tigers to a comeback. Onalaska had a chance for the win on the 1-yard line, but a fumble cost the Loggers the win.
There’s no doubt this matchup could be another thriller again and it is probably the most important game that will take place in Onalaska this season.
4. GW Graham (Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) at Centralia, Friday, Sept. 27
Canadians are known for hockey and maple syrup, so it may appear at first that Centralia made a schedule error. Due to Fort Vancouver opting out of a two-year deal to play Centralia, the Tigers had a vacant Week 4 that had a limited selection of teams available to face for Centralia’s final non-league game of the season.
The Canadian Football League generally plays with three downs and field goal posts that act as an object in the field of play, but coach Jeremy Thibault said the team from up north has some guys that can play some American football.
3. Tumwater at W.F. West, Friday, Oct. 18
The first time in my tenure (2016) that Tumwater came to Bearcat Stadium, I didn’t get to shoot or cover the game as Sid Otton’s T-Birds cruised with tight end Cade Otton — now playing for the University of Washington (gross) — dominating on offense in his senior season.
Three years later, the T-Birds are coming back to the Mint City and will go up against a W.F. West team that will be trying to wrestle the EvCo crown away from Tumwater and their cross-freeway rival Black Hills. Josiah Johnson, Leandre Gaines and Jaiyden Camoza will try to help the Bearcats defeat Tumwater for the first time in over a decade.
2. Kalama at Napavine, Friday, Sept. 13
It may be bad luck for Napavine to host the defending state champions in a rematch of the state title game on Friday the 13th. Will Laythan Demarest cut up the Kalama defense like Jason Voorhees or will the Chinooks escape with a win like the main character who always seemingly gets away from Jason at the end of the movie?
I’ve seen three of the last four games between these two teams, missing only the regular season meeting last year in Kalama. I was there on my brother’s 30th birthday for the Saturday night meeting in 2017, a Chinook overtime win in Napavine. The two teams met in the semifinals later that year and the Chinooks won once again at Tiger Stadium. Will the Tigers finally be able to take down the Chinooks? With no Alex Dyer and in Napavine, this is a prime opportunity for the Tigers.
1. Onalaska at Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, in Menlo, Friday, Sept. 27
If you’ve paid attention to our podcast — Let’s Take About It — you would know these are two teams I picked to be in the Final Four this season. Onalaska reached the quarterfinals last season and returns a solid core of seniors that will run the triple option to perhaps a deep playoff run. PWV returns a lot of injured players and seniors that will be vying to take the Titans deeper into the state tournament after falling to Northwest Christian (Colbert) in the first round of state last season.
I was at this game last season in Onalaska, when the Loggers rolled through an injury-depleted team in Week 3, including this photo of Ashton Haight trucking a defender in the second quarter. I highly doubt this will be the case this year, and I expect a low-scoring, gritty affair that ends with Maz and Josh ultimately deciding the winner by who can drink more beers in 20 minutes (I’m just saying this because I would kind of like to see it).
Are you excited for football season? Me too. T-minus 10 days until kickoff.
ALL PLAYERS REPORT
It is officially fall as every fall sport began on Monday. There are going to be lots of good players and teams to keep an eye on that don’t carry pigskin.
This will be one of the most competitive sports in the fall season. You have to start in Adna, where the Pirates are coming off another final four appearance. It’s usually a lock to pencil in the Pirates for a spot in Sumner in November and this year should be no different. Adna has a phenomenal senior class, led by Payton Aselton, Cierra Swenson and Makaela Meister.
Also in the 2B ranks is the Onalaska Loggers, coming off their first state tournament appearance as a program. Napavine, Toledo and Winlock all had young teams that will try to take the next step this season.
Tenino is coming off a state tournament appearance and returns a bulk of their starters. The Beavers have a good chance of improving this season.
In the 2A ranks, W.F. West appears to be the local favorite, with a lot of players seeing extended minutes due to a low volume of seniors. Centralia and Rochester should have quality squads as well and give the Bearcats all they can handle in the EvCo.
The biggest story in volleyball this season is will the Mossyrock Vikings make it to the state championship game for the fourth year in a row? The now seniors have been in the title game the last three years and have been playing together for a long time, and nothing would be sweeter to go out with than a state title.
Morton-White Pass made the state tournament as well last year but lost some key players. Napavine, Onalaska, Adna, Toledo and Winlock will all try to climb the standings in the Central 2B League and Pe Ell will try to gain ground in the Pacific 2B League.
W.F. West was the top team in the area for 2A volleyball and they should be near the top once again. Rochester was able to sneak into the district playoffs last season and will have a nice group of seniors that could carry them deep into the postseason. Centralia and Tenino hope a year of experience will improve their teams from last season.
Cross Country/Boys Tennis/Boys Golf
These are three sports that I’m going in blind this year. Does Rudy Voetberg still tee it up for Centralia? Will Alexander and Andrew Kim are gone from W.F. West. I believe Ben Corwin graduated last year as did Ryan Mack.
Austen Apperson, Makayla Erickson, Sarah Lovan, Lauryn Apperson, Kaylen Collette and Zachary Wright are all gone. Toledo’s Nicholas Marty and Morton-White Pass’ Manuel Martinez appears to be the top runners in the area this season.
We will have to see who emerges this season as the best in Lewis County.