Monday afternoon saw the Morton-White Pass 12 days out from its season-opener against La Conner and unable to practice outside.
“We were in the gym running plays over at the elementary school,” MWP coach Lee Metcalf said.
The T-Wolves had to stay indoors thanks to unhealthy air quality, due to fires to the north and east, that saw AQI levels in Morton creep toward 200.
It’s a story that Morton-White Pass — and the rest of East County — know well. Last season, the Goat Rocks forced multiple players to evacuate with their families, and postponed games early in the season.
The past weekend didn’t get nearly to that level, with all of the major fires further from home. But it still was far from pleasant.
“We’re closer to the east side than anybody else,” Metcalf said. “It seems like anything from Canada to the east side kind of gets in the Cascades and hangs there, and it sticks around and causes problems for us with the air quality out here.”
Tuesday, the T-Wolves got to be back out on the field, as a spell of cooler weather and a couple bands of rain cleared the air, though there were no guarantees it would last.
“I looked at Thursday and Friday and it’s supposed to be between 50 and 100, so I’m hoping it stays below 100,” Metcalf said.
And by Tuesday, there was another sort of issue at hand, as La Conner called in to let Metcalf know it wouldn’t be able to field a full team Sept. 2.
It’s the second straight year that the Braves have canceled a Week 1 matchup against the T-Wolves due to low numbers. Last year, MWP rescheduled with a last-minute game against Ilwaco, playing the Fishermen in a non-league contest to go along with their league matchup.
This time around, the positive spin is that Metcalf has over a week to find a new team to play.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get that game in,” he said. “Nobody wants to start the year with a forfeit.”
The Timberwolves need all of the early experience they can get, with a Week 2 matchup across the mountains at White Swan followed up by a tough league-opener at Forks on Sept. 15. Last year, the T-Wolves downed the Spartans in a signature win as part of a 4-0 start, before dropping four of their last five games against varsity opponents.
This time around, the sledding in the SWW 2B North Division won’t get any easier, though the T-Wolves are a lot greener, losing starting tailback Carter Dantinne and the bulk of their starting line.
“This league’s such a meat grinder,” Metcalf said. “You really have to be at your best to compete.”