Experienced Group of Bearcats Motivated for Improved 2022


Last year saw the W.F. West football team make its deepest run in the postseason in some time, earning a state berth for the first time since 2017 before going one-and-done in a tight loss with Prosser. 

This year, the Bearcats have grander plans. 

“They’re chomping at the bit, there’s been a different motivation in this group than the last couple of years,” coach Dan Hill said. “They’re going to have a good opportunity. They have some goals set and they’re going to go week-to-week.”

W.F. West hasn’t won a state playoff game since a deep run in 2012 that saw the Bearcats make it all the way to the semifinals. 

With 17 returning starters from last year’s squad, the Bearcats feel pretty good about where they stand in 2022. 2A Evergreen Conference Offensive MVP Gavin Fugate returns at quarterback, and league Defensive MVP Daniel Matagi returns to anchor the line. 

Fugate has a whole cast of receivers and playmakers to throw to, including Cameron Amoroso and sophomore Gage Brumfield. Matagi isn’t alone on defense either, with Blake Ely returning at linebacker and an experienced line that includes William Buzzard leading the charge in the trenches. 

It could be the perfect storm for the Bearcats, who are looking to dethrone a Tumwater squad that have had a stranglehold on the league, and state, for years. Hill and his staff saw the opportunity for a strong season, and loaded up their non-league schedule with defending 2A champ Lynden, 1A runner-up Eatonville, and Greater St. Helens League champion Ridgefield.

“That was the plan,” Hill said. “We know we have a team that can play, we’re going to be tough. We know we’re going to have an opportunity to have a playoff team. We wanted these guys to have an opportunity to see some high level teams from the get-go.”

And though it seems the expectations are raised every year in Chehalis, the Bearcats have the returning production, system, and new playmakers to make some noise in their eyes. 

“More than anything this is the strongest team physically I’ve been a part of the last four years,” Matagi said. “It’ll be one of the best seasons W.F. West is going to have.”