The Tenino Beavers head out on the road tonight to open SWW 1A League Evergreen Division football action at a place, and against a team, they are striving, in a sense, to be.
Tenino has started the season 2-0 and faces the 2-0 Onalaska Loggers.
"It's a pretty important game for both teams," said Tenino coach Kevin Ridout. "I guess we find out what kind of team we have. Ony has a proven track record of making the playoffs and playing smash-mouth football.
"We're looking forward to seeing how we stack up. We know they are good and well coached, so it's a big challenge for us."
The Beavers have opened a lot of eyes early this season with their hot start. And with the victories has come a change in attitude.
"Developing a winning attitude was a big hurdle," said Ridout, who is in his sixth season. "Every group I've had at Tenino has had great kids and lots of potential. But that hurdle of winning is so huge. It's easier to be a winning team and become a losing team than going from a losing team to a winning team.
"There are just so many pitfalls in a football game. Maybe (previous teams) didn't believe we could win, but I think this group does believe they can win and that's a good feeling to have. These kids are doing the right things to put them in a place to be successful."
And one of the most successful early on has been running back Braiden Johnson. Johnson has rushed for 352 yards in two games. He's also dangerous catching passes out of the backfield, plus he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns last week against Vashon Island.
"He's a scrapper," Ridout said. "When he steps on the field he gives it all he has and then some more."
But Ridout said Johnson knows it's not just him.
"I think Braiden's pretty good, but he has some good guys in front of him creating some holes," the coach said. "Braiden is very unselfish. He's getting a lot of press, but he gives all the credit to the linemen and receivers blocking for him and those guys (teammates) appreciate it."
Mike Jensen and Aaron Butcher anchor the left side of the line with Jerry Schoelkopf and Mike Morales on the right. Steve Stewart and Steve Weyrauch alternate at center.
While Ony must be concerned with Johnson, the Beavers have to worry about the Loggers' Colton Best.
Best had another huge game last Friday as he rushed for 226 yards in a 22-6 win over White Pass.
"He is definitely a workhorse," Ridout said. "He's kind of a monster. We have to stop him in his tracks because once he gets going, he'll run over you."
But the Logger option attack creates a lot of problems.
"If you adjust to one side or forget about your assignments on the option, they have a lot of weapons that can hurt you," Ridout said. "You can't just concern yourself with stopping Best. Like our team, their line is well disciplined. Their pad levels are low and they are moving piles.
"You look at the success of any back and there is a good line in front of him doing the job."
Tonight's battle at Memorial Field pits the up-and-coming Beavers against the established powerhouse that is Onalaska.
"Wayne (Ony coach Nelson) has a way of playing down his team, but having watched them on film … they are good," Ridout said. "Ony was picked as one of the top teams in our league and we want to see if we can match up with the big boys."
Win or lose, Ridout said it's nice that there is some excitement around the Tenino football program.
"It's nice that people and our kids are feeling good about going and playing a football game, and it's an important football game. This one is big and that's always fun."
Elsewhere in the 1A ranks
Rochester showed marked improvement in Week 2, battling a tough 2A Woodland squad. The Warriors (0-2) host (0-2) Ilwaco. The Fishermen have lost to a pair of 2B schools, but quality ones at that - Wahkiakum and Willapa Valley. Rochester will have to contended with star running back Eddie Knick, who had 159 yards in a 10-0 loss to Valley.
Montesano, the favorite in the SWW 1A Evergreen, is on the road at Toledo. The Indians (1-1) are coming off a big fourth-quarter rally to beat Stevenson. Winlock is home to face Rainier. The Cardinals evened their record at 1-1 with a win over Ocosta while the Mountaineers are 2-0 after beating Cedar Park Christian 7-6 in overtime in Week 1, and a big win over Raymond last week.
Panthers look to regroup
White Pass (1-1) opens Central 2B League play at home with Mossyrock. The Panthers are coming off a stinging nonleague loss at Onalaska last week. A year ago the Panthers rolled off six straight wins after losing at Onalaska. Can history repeat itself?
Mossyrock (1-1) is coming off a thrilling last-minute victory over Pe Ell. The Vikings, who look to be a surprise team in the C2BL, could make a big statement in Randle tonight.
Pe Ell (1-1), in its first season back in the 11-man ranks after two as a B-8 team, tries to rebound from the loss at Mossy with a tough test at Adna. The Pirates (2-0) looked sharp against Vancouver Christian, but it came with a price with a couple of key injuries.
Napavine (1-1) was roughed up a bit by Toutle Lake last week and now gets powerful Wahkiakum (2-0), which is averaging 41 points a game this season and ripped Morton 40-6 last week.
Speaking of the Huskies (2-0), they play their "home" opener Saturday against Vancouver Christian (1-1) at 1 p.m. in Randle at White Pass High School.
The Huskies, the only team in the C2BL without a win, will play all their home games away from Morton as a new stadium and track are completed.
Oakville continues road assault
The Oakville Acorns play their third straight game away from home as they travel to Lake Quinault for a 1 p.m. nonleague game. The Acorns (2-0), ranked No. 4, are coming off an impressive win over state power Columbia (Hunters) last Saturday.