The appetizers have been eaten and cleared away, and now we’re into the meaty part of the meal that is the 2023 football season. Eleven games on the slate, with every local 2A team playing a league matchup, every local 1B playing a league matchup, and all but one 2B playing what should be a league matc- you know what, I think I’ve beaten that dead horse enough.
Onto the games:
Centralia at Tumwater
Tumwater is set to honor its 1993 team on the 30th anniversary of its 3A state title Friday before it takes on Centralia. That team rolled with a defense that allowed just over 13 points per game, and early signs point to this year’s squad having similar shutdown success. Last week saw the T-Birds force three turnovers and allowed 33 total yards in a 54-0 blowout of 3A Kelso. It could be a tough night for a Centralia offense that has cracked 20 points against 2A competition just once since COVID.
Black Hills at W.F. West
Two teams that came out of two non-league games to start the season winless and disappointed, but oh, what a difference one league win can make. W.F. West might still be below .500 overall, but with a 1-0 record after a 55-26 win over Shelton, the Bearcats have everything they could want still easily within their reach. In Black Hills country, it’s a different feeling; the Wolves let another winnable game slip out of their grasp late against Rochester, and need to figure out what it will take to finish games real soon.
Rochester at Shelton
It’s always better to get your lessons out of the way in a win. Black Hills did better against Rochester’s Power T formation than anyone else so far this season, but the Warriors still did enough late to pull out the win with a less-than-perfect game. Now, they get another huge matchup in the middle of the 2A EvCo, where five teams below Tumwater look like they’ll be playing for three crossover spots. Starting 2-0 in league would put Rochester in pole positions for one of them.
Onalaska at Tenino
The Loggers’ trip to Stone City in 2021 was a wall-to-wall banger, then last year saw Tenino win a blowout in a game between two teams going in opposite directions. This game promises to be more like the one two years ago. Tenino is absolutely desperate for a win, coming off back-to-back single-digit losses, while Onalaska is starting to look like its old self in the trenches. Adding to the intrigue is that this is no longer a matchup of similar, smashmouth styles; the Loggers are going to need to figure out how to stop Tenino’s new air attack.
Raymond-South Bend at Adna
There’s a lot to be said about a comparison between Adna and W.F. West: an 0-2 start with a close loss to a solid team and a somewhat-expect blowout at the hands of a state favorite, followed by a get-right offensive performance last Friday. Now, just like the Bearcats, the Pirates will get a home matchup that finds the sweet spot as very winnable yet not at all certain. Last year, absolutely nothing went right offensively for Adna in a 34-2 loss to RSB; this time around, the Pirates will have to continue the success with the ball they found against White Swan.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley at Napavine
It’s not just coach speak when Josh Fay says Napavine has room to improve. The Tigers still have yet to put a full game together and play four quarters at their full potential… and still have won three blowouts. PWV gave Napavine one of its closest games last year — only losing by 40 points — and did a whole lot right in a 46-12 win at Wahkiakum last week. Anything other than a Napavine win by a wide margin may be a surprise, but both teams have a chance to show some things beyond the final score.
Wahkiakum at Toledo
Toledo gets its third straight matchup against a team from the SWW 2B West division, having won the first two by an average of 49 points. For Wahkiakum, it’s the Mules’ third straight matchup against upper-division teams, having lost the first two by an average of 33.5. Toledo has had seven different players run in touchdowns in the past two weeks, and should get another game to flex their rushing muscles this week.
Morton-White Pass at Rainier
After three weeks on the road Rainier will finally get a home game, and it’s an intriguing one. Despite being in the lower West division, the Mountaineers have the same record as Morton-White Pass at 1-2 and possibly a better win, over Wahkiakum. Both teams are coming off running-clock losses. For the T-Wolves, this game, before a back-to-back against PWV and Napavine, is just about a must-win to get any sort of momentum.
Winlock at Naselle
Just a couple of years ago, this matchup helped determine the final pecking order in the Big 1B League. Now, it’s sadly set to be a more minor game in the grand scheme of things, with Winlock 0-3 with three running-clock losses. Naselle, meanwhile, has yet to be held under 65 points with a high-powered offense.
Oakville at Chief Leschi
Oakville is in the win column after a 18-12 result over lowly Taholah, raising the Acorns out of the Pac 1B Conference basement. The challenge gets tougher this week with a trip to Puyallup to play 2-0 Chief Leschi. Oakville showed some signs of life on offense last week, but will need to ramp things up a fair bit more to keep up with the Warriors.
Sound Christian at Mossyrock
Mossyrock, meanwhile, is having no such troubles on offense since its shift back to 8-man football in Week 2, and probably won’t have any this week either. The comparison point for this game will be the 74-28 beatdown Naselle dealt Sound Christian last week.