KELSO — After months in the spring and summer and two weeks of training camp spent hitting friendly faces on hot days, the W.F. West football team finally got to run out under the bright lights and face off against a couple squads wearing different jerseys. Heading south to Cowlitz County, the Bearcats met up with Woodland and 4A Skyview at Kelso for the appetizer version of Friday Night Lights, to help get ready for Week 1 next week.
“It feels great to be back out here. It’s nice seeing other teams and having our guys be able to hit other guys,” WFW coach Dan Hill said. “That long camp of playing against each other gets kind of old after awhile, so our guys were excited to come out here today, and we had some fun.”
With the turf at Schroeder Field split in two down the 50-yard line, the four teams paired off for 10-play sets starting at each 40. W.F. West took on Skyview, first on offense and then on defense, then flipped to a 2A showdown with Woodland, going defense first and then offense.
From the jump, it was an up-and-down evening for the Bearcats, though like with most preseason competition, final results weren’t the only things the coaching staffs were focusing on.
The WFW defense looked good early and stayed that way for nearly all of its 20 plays. Junior defensive lineman Andrew Penland pushed his way through the Skyview line for a tackle for loss, and in the second series, Daniel Matagi dragged down the Woodland quarterback for a sack of his own.
“Defensively, it’s all about communication, flying around, and getting to the football,” Hill said. “I thought defensively we played pretty well today, we got to the football really well, we were talking, lined up, and did the right stuff.”
Offensively, it was a bit of a different story. Senior quarterback Gavin Fugate’s first pass against the Skyview defense was an off-balance deep shot into double coverage that was picked; he ended up going 1-for-4 against the Storm with three interceptions, and finished the evening 3-for-9.
Fugate had a much better time on the ground, moving the chains multiple times with his legs. The Bearcats also started to work in Blake Ely and Tucker Land at tailback; Land found the end zone on WFW’s final play of the night, but it was called back for holding.
“There’s a little rust there to shake off,” Hill said. “No matter how good it looks in practice, you get out here and play some quality teams, it’s more challenging.”
W.F. West will get a week to learn from its 40 plays in Kelso before the games that matter begin, with a big trip to Ridgefield slated next Friday.