Preview capsules: Getting ready to rumble


Months of prognostication finally give way to actual football games, as the 2023 season gets underway. Here’s what’s on tap for all of the local sides hitting the field this weekend.

Elma at Centralia

Every 2A matchup in the area is a rematch from last season, starting with Centralia staying at home to take on a 1A Elma side that went 2-6 last year and finished at the bottom of the 1A Evergreen League. One of those wins, though, came against the Tigers, who themselves are looking to snap an 11-game skid under first-year coach Jon Rooklidge.

Ridgefield at W.F. West

The was a top-10 matchup last year in Clark County, though after W.F. West ran away with a 38-28 win, the two teams went in separate directions, with the Bearcats rocketing to a 2A EvCo title and the Spudders stumbling to a 5-5 season. This time around, W.F. West will be looking to use it as another launchpad, with new weapons leading the offense.

Burlington-Edison at Tumwater

The T-Birds enter the William Garrow era with a home matchup against Burlington-Edison, with Ethan Kastner ready to take over as starting quarterback and a baseball lineup’s worth of tailbacks rotating through the backfield. The Tigers went 4-6 last season and 2-5 in the loaded 2A Northwest League.

Black Hills at Montesano

Black Hills announced its revitalization last season with a statement win over Montesano last year; this time, the Wolves will need to go on the road for a similar result. The Wolves hold a classification on the Bulldogs, but Monte isn’t your average 1A side, having gone 8-2 against 2A teams since 2018.

Seton Catholic at Rochester

Points were few and far between when Rochester went south to Vancouver in Week 1 of last season, as the Warriors downed Seton Catholic 9-8 on a field goal at the final horn. This year staying at home, they’ll be looking for a bit more on offense, while hoping for a similar defensive result against an SC team that finished third in the 1A TriCo in 2022.

Tenino at Colville

The first matchup on the docket that isn’t a rematch of a game from last year belongs to the Beavers, who will head north of Spokane to begin Darren Tinnerstet’s run as head coach. They’ll take on a Colville team which finished 7-3 last season and made the crossover round.

Napavine at Adna

Aaron Cochran has a chance to begin his time at Adna with an absolutely seismic shock, but the odds are heavily stacked against his Pirates. Adna is 1-10 against Napavine in the past decade, and with the Tigers returning just about every starter from the team that hit the running clock in every single regular-season contest last season, Cochran and his boys — like all of Napavine’s opponents this year — should have their hands full keeping the deficit under 40.

Raymond-South Bend at Toledo

Back to the theme of non-league rematches, Toledo gets a chance to avenge its season-opening loss to the Ravens last year at home.This will be a bit different of a Toledo team, though. The Riverhawks have sophomore Eli Weeks set to start at quarterback with the teased promise of letting him throw more, and have even started running more out of the shotgun.

St. Thomas More (B.C.) at Onalaska

Let’s make this party international, why not? The Knights of St. Thomas More, from Burnaby, British Columbia are set to cross the border and head to Grit Town on Friday for the first international battle in Lewis County in… well, we’re not entirely sure. But it’s been awhile, and it will be up to Mazen Saade and his Loggers — returning their entire starting lineup from last season — to arrange the welcoming party.

Pe Ell-Willapa Valley at Mossyrock

For the first time since 2019, Mossyrock will field an 11-man football team when it hosts PWV on Friday. And the East County Vikings aren’t giving themselves an easy one-week jump into the larger-scale game, taking on a state semifinalist from last year. New PWV coach Nate Smith has a decision to make at quarterback, with three Vikings taking reps with the first team throughout camp.

Rainier at Wahkiakum

Rainier’s run in the lower SWW 2B West division begins with a matchup against Wahkiakum, another side making the drop down. Put Hunter Howell on record watch now; he already set a few single-game marks for the Mountaineers last year, and with a full season on the horizon, he could put up some gaudy numbers.

Toutle Lake at Morton-White Pass

We couldn’t make it even one week into the season without some schedule shuffling. For the second straight year, La Conner backed out of a Week 1 matchup in Morton, forcing coach Lee Metcalf to pivot quickly. And pivot quickly he did, finding a quick date with Toutle Lake after the Ducks’ game against Ocosta fell through. The T-Wolves last played the Ducks during the winter COVID season in 2021, and won 32-14.

Darrington at Winlock

Winlock opens its season with a test against a team that, at least on paper, it would have matched up well with last year. The Cardinals went 5-3 last year before losing to 56-6 to Neah Bay in the crossover; the Loggers went 6-3 before losing 56-6 to Mossyrock in the crossover. This fall looks to be a fair bit different in the setup for Winlock, though, with a starting lineup full of sophomores trying to get the Cardinals back to the state tournament.

Crescent at Oakville

A different sort of Loggers from a 1B school to the north, Crescent went 3-7 last year, and comes south to Oakville for Week 1. The Acorns bring back some of the best pure athletes in the district, led by Gio and Daniel Rodas, who will look to link up early and often in the passing game.