Football Roundtable: Sleeper Pick


With fall camp officially underway, and football season within sight, what better way to get prepared for the 2022 season than reading some of Chronicle staffers' most educated season predictions? 

In this edition of The Chronicle’s preseason roundtable, Alec Dietz, Josh Kirshenbaum, and Aaron VanTuyl pick who could have a sneaky good season as the area’s biggest sleeper.  

Alec’s Pick: Pe Ell-Willapa Valley

The Titans were oh-so-close last season. After a 2-2 start, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley went 4-1 over its next five games before a tight, 28-14, loss to Toledo in district crossover play. 

At the time, Toledo coach Mike Christensen said the Titans were undoubtedly a state-caliber opponent. 

Heading into 2022, PWV is bringing just about everyone back from that team. 

They’ll be looking for a new quarterback after the graduation of Tyler Adkins, but return skill players Wil Clements, Blake Howard, and Derek Fluke. Kaden Ritzman is gone on defense, but Garrett Keaton and Kolten Fluke return. 

With several programs in the Central 2B replacing a big chunk of their roster, this could be PWV’s chance to make some noise and a return to state for the first time since 2018. 

Josh’s Pick: Toledo

Doubt the Riverhawks at your own peril.

Toledo lost a good deal of its production from last season, will have to break in a new quarterback, and may well deal with low numbers. 

Sound familiar? It’s pretty similar to the situation the Riverhawks were in this time last season… and the season before… and the season before that. But despite that, Mike Christensen and his staff have built a reputation of doing two things: rebuilding and going on runs at the end of the season.

You have to go back to 2018 to find the last time Toledo lost to a team that didn’t end up going to the state semifinals. Last season, the Riverhawks went undefeated against everyone except a senior-heavy Onalaska team and a senior-loaded state-champion Kalama side. 

But as Alec alluded to, senior-heavy teams one fall lead to lineup turnover the next. Instead of a triarchy of Napavine, Kalama, and Onalaska head and shoulders above the rest of the C2BL, there’s set to be the Tigers and then a power vacuum. Some teams that have been down for a bit will see their chance to jump up, while a lot of the schools that have lived near the top of the standings will have to retool fast.

And at this point, do you trust anyone to retool faster than Toledo?

Aaron’s Pick: Adna

Adna did not make the state playoffs last year and coach K.C. Johnson headed off to Raymond (for a promotion) after 20 years in blue and gold. 

That’s not exactly a glowing “state of affairs” speech for the Pirate faithful, but it does set Adna up to be something of an underdog this year. 

Hometown guy Jason Dunnagan stepped into the head coaching role, so there’s going to be plenty of continuity on the sidelines. Junior Lane Johnson returns at quarterback and a junior under center with a year of experience is usually a good thing. Adna’s got plenty of returning talent and always has a ton of kids turn out.

Plus, with Kalama expected to return to earth, the South division is up for grabs. They might not be the favorites, but Adna makes for an easy “why not?” sleeper.