A prep football doubleheader at Stewart Field will showcase two state-ranked teams tonight and an up-and-coming squad on Friday night.
Tonight, ninth-ranked Montesano will finish off its non-league schedule by taking on in-district rival, and fourth-ranked, Woodland at 7 p.m. On Friday, host Aberdeen will also finish its non-league schedule when it greets Black Hills at 7 p.m.
While two big Harbor teams stay at Stewart Field, two others hit the road — Hoquiam travels to Rochester, while Elma heads out to Rainier.
The last several years have seen big-time contests between these two schools, some during the regular season and some in the district playoffs. This contest should not disappoint.
The Bulldogs (2-1) are coming off a 35-0 victory over Hoquiam at Olympic Stadium and are beginning to find their form. Running backs Anthony Louthan and Jacob Sampair combined for nearly 350 rushing yards against the Grizzlies. Defensively, Monte smothered Hoquiam’s young offense to 175 yards of total offense.
“I thought we did a great job, especially defensively, of controlling the line of scrimmage,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said. “I thought some of our sophomores stepped up and did some good things on defense — linebackers Jake Herzog and Logan Traux and defensive end Justin Marsh.
“As far as how much more work we have to do — well, we are still a work-in-prograss — and yes, lots to work on,” Jensen added. “Taking care of the football, route running by our receivers, and just general offensive communication are some the things we have struggled with at times. We will continue to grow and improve as long as we practice hard and take coaching well.”
Woodland (3-0) has had its way in its first three games of the season, outscoring Kalama, Castle Rock and Seton Catholic, 161-7. One note, however, Seton Catholic is in its second year as an 11-man football squad after moving up from the eight-man ranks.
“(Woodland) reminds me a little of Hoquiam from last year — very explosive and solid in all aspects of the game,” Jensen said. “They stretch teams both horizontally as well as vertically. They will be a state playoff team. It is a great opportunity for us to play another quality football team to help evaluate where we are.”
Aberdeen (2-1) comes into this non-league contest at the beginning of a three-week homestand. Black Hills (1-2) comes in with an improved squad that sank Bainbridge Island, 55-27, last week. This should be a good test for the Bobcats before they embark upon their second Greater St. Helens League campaign.
Last week, the Bobcats passed a big road test by physically taking Centralia out of the game, 35-13.
“The most impressive thing from my perspective is that we didn’t flinch when adversity came out way,” AHS head coach Terry Dion said. “Both of our previous games found us with the early momentum via fumbles. The tables were turned this game and we fumbled deep in our territory and found ourselves down, 6-0. The team didn’t falter.”
Aberdeen’s pistol offense has improved with senior quarterback Veek Cheema getting more options to run and throw the ball. Running back Austin Floch showcased his speed (192 yards on 13 carries) against the Tigers and he’ll face a speedy defense from Black Hills. On the other side, the Bobcat defense, led by Chase Johnson on the line and Cory Mays at linebacker, will have to slow down and bottle up the Wolves’ offensive speed threats.
“We are more talented in the physical department and they are more talented in open space,” Dion said. “Their quarterback is an excellent athlete and they spread the field with quick players. We will know pretty quickly if we have the physical advantage; we need to be able to maintain blocks well enough to not get run down by pursuit. There is a chance for the scoreboard to get lit up quite a bit.”
Dion cited Floch and Johnson as the players of the week for Aberdeen.
Hoquiam (0-1, 0-3) is looking for its first win of the season and it’ll have a challenge in the form of Rochester (1-0, 2-1) on the road.
The Warriors, led by Tyler Yarber’s four touchdowns, throttled Rainier, 49-21, last week. They also own a win over district foe Ridgefield and a tough first-week loss to 2A R.A. Long. The Grizzlies will build upon their successes, despite only scoring two points in the last two games.
“There were opportunities (against Monte),” HHS head coach Rick Moore said. “They put the ball on the ground five times and they got them all back. If we get those, it is a different story in terms of the final score. We need to break into that win column — to have that belief as a new, young team striving for our own identity. We need to get this win and elevate ourselves in our mindset.”
The Grizzlies will be without star running back Devin Kelly, who will be out for the next few weeks, but will have the duo of Kenny Wakefield and Brenner Carlstrom at QB-RB. Both players were cited by Moore for their performances on offense.
Yarber is Rochester’s main rushing threat, but quarterback Tyler Gedney is a running-passing threat as well. Defensively, the Warriors have some speed, but not the size that Hoquiam has faced this season.
“It isn’t a big line; for us, we have to play physical up front and match up better,” Moore said. “Matchup-wise, we do very well, but we have to execute. We have to get after and hold down (Yarber and Gedney).”
Elma (1-0, 1-2) will use the momentum of last week’s last-minute win over Tenino to travel to Rainier, which was run over by Rochester. Raymond (2-1), ranked 10th in the AP state 2B rankings, begin Pacific 2B League play at home against Ocosta (0-1, 1-2). North Beach (3-0), which played Hockinson’s junior varsity game Wednesday night, is the other league team ranked by the state’s sports writers — eighth.