Behold, nine straight weeks of beautiful football are on the horizon. With full slates every Friday, it could be a bit overwhelming for the local fan to discern which stadium will be the place to be each week. Have no fear; here are the Chronicle’s picks for the ultimate fall road trip of local games.
The area hits the ground running with a couple of marquee non-league matchups — and one league one — but the Beavers and the Titans are the way to go here. Both teams are trending up, with Tenino coming off a State quarterfinal run and PWV returning a good deal of its squad, and while the Titans will be the underdogs, they’ll have a real chance to announce themselves as real contenders come 2B league play time.
Also keep an eye on: W.F. West at Ridgefield, Adna at Napavine
There are a couple big 2A matchups in the area, but when the Tigers play the Loggers, that’s always the place to be. Napavine comes into this season with wind and words filling its sail, picked by many as the team to beat in the 2B ranks this fall after bringing back most of the team that came a few minutes away from a state title last year. Onalaska, meanwhile, has a bit more retooling to do from its semifinal squad, but won’t have any issues getting itself ready for what’s become one of the best rivalries in Lewis County. Expect plenty of bad feelings, at least one attack on school rocks, and a whole lot of hard hits here.
Also keep an eye on: Lynden at W.F. West, North Kitsap at Tumwater, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley at Adna
A week after hosting another team that made the 2A semifinals last fall, Tumwater will get a test of a different sort when it goes for a climb up the classification ladder in Cowlitz County. Tumwater’s built up its reputation with a physical ground game, but the Thunderbirds will be tested by the Hilanders, who bring back one of the larger lines in Southwest Washington with heapings of experience.
Also keep an eye on: Black Hills at Rochester, Tenino vs. Klahowya (Saturday at Lumen Field)
Last season’s matchup on the Black Top had just about everything — save passing yards — with Tenino coming back from a 14-0 deficit thanks to its bruising rushing attack and possibly the defensive play of the year by Dylan Spicer. This time around, the Loggers will be looking for revenge at home.
Also keep an eye on: Rainier at Morton-White Pass.
There’s a good feeling going around the W.F. West parts of town with Gavin Fugate leading the charge offensively and a bunch back on the line. The Bearcats gave themselves a whole lot of non-league tests to measure themselves up against, including a home date against defending 2A champs Lynden, but to be the best in the EvCo, you’ve got to beat the best in the EvCo. It’s been Tumwater’s league for a minute, and the T-Birds aren’t planning on giving their crown away any time soon.
Also keep an eye on: Eatonville at Tenino, Toledo at Onalaska
You want bad blood? Three years ago, Onalaska rolled past Kalama to a state championship. Two years ago, the Loggers beat up the Chinooks at home. Last season, Kalama got back, steamrolling Ony not once but twice. This year, both teams are going to be full of newcomers to the rivalry, but the hate won’t be going anywhere.
Also keep an eye on: Rochester at W.F. West
By this point in the season we’ll have a much better feel of how the 2B world is going to shake out, but at the moment, this could be one with a whole lot of stakes. After a couple years of being stuck behind the likes of Napavine, Onalaska, and Kalama, this could be the time Adna makes a resurgence, or Toledo takes that step from the penultimate level of the C2BL to the premier spot. It’ll be two teams trying to shoot their way up the ranks going at it, and it’ll be fun to watch.
Also keep an eye on: Eatonville at W.F. West
These two teams combined for 82 points in a thriller last season, and with Naselle coming in heavy favorites once again in the 1B world, it could come down to this game to determine second and third place in the district. Easton and Keegan Kolb give the Vikings a dynamic duo on offense again, while Winlock will have to figure out how to replace Nolan Swofford, along with most of last year’s production.
Also keep an eye on: Tenino at Montesano, Adna at Onalaska, Forks at PWV
All eyes turn homeward during rivalry week, and in Lewis County, that means it's time for the Swamp Cup. The matchup has skewed heavily in Chehalis’ favor of late, but throw your records and your common knowledge out of the window when it comes to a rivalry of a regular-season finale.
Also keep an eye on: Tenino at Rochester, Napavine at Forks