The No. 3 Pe Ell-Willapa Valley football team knows exactly what's in store for them come Saturday at the Apple Bowl in Wenatchee at Noon:
Undefeated, unblemished, and mostly untested No. 2 Okanogan.
Just four teams remain in pursuit of a 2B state championship, and this weekend the Bulldogs are in the way of a Titans squad looking to punch that elusive state title ticket.
“You don’t get too many chances like this,” Titans coach Josh Fluke said. “It’ll be good, the boys are excited for it. We’re trying to keep it businesslike, but it's tough.”
Though the Titans are looking to take the same approach they’ve taken to every game, with just four teams left, it's hard to ignore the stakes of every do-or-die contest the four teams left are fighting for.
Adding in Thanksgiving this weekend and a morning holiday practice, the Titans are due for a busy weekend.
The Bulldogs are led by 6-foot-6 sophomore quarterback Carter Kuchenbuch and fullback Johnny Swartsel, who combined have over 2,000 yards of total offense between them. The Bulldogs closest contest this season was a 27-point victory over No. 4 Jenkins of Chewelah back in September.
“They have a little of everything,” Fluke said. “They’re big up front, they block well, they’re mobile and they have a fullback that’s built like a brick. He runs really hard. Their quarterback is big and he can throw when he wants. It's going to be one of those games where gap responsibility and tackling is gonna be huge.
“They execute well, they don’t make many mistakes and they’re a well-coached solid football team.”
Not unlike its win against No. 6 Raymond-South Bend last week, the Titans will need to crowd to the football and try to produce some turnovers if they want to do something no team has been able to do this season against the 11-0 Bulldogs on Saturday.
Though the challenge in front of them will be a tall task, it’s one the Titans are looking forward to this weekend, heading up to Wenatchee on Friday before the game Saturday at the Apple Bowl.
“I’ve been letting them know we’ve had a good season and have played some great football,” Fluke said. “Everyone is talking about how good they are, and we’re pretty good too. That’s why you play the game, you have a chance to win this thing and get to a state championship. We just have to keep them up and they just gotta play football.”