Bobcats, Grizzlies collide for 107th time


There’s something old, something new and something revived about the Aberdeen-Hoquiam football rivalry this year.

Old refers to the rivalry itself. This will be the 107th meeting of the trans-Myrtle Street foes.

New this year is that the game will be included in the national Great American Rivalries Series promoted by the iHigh.com online service. Further details about that will be published in Friday’s edition.

Aberdeen entrepreneur John Yonich will again offer the gigantic Myrtle Street Trophy to the winner.

The Aberdeen-Hoquiam showdown is returning to Friday night after seven years as a Saturday afternoon affair. The Grizzlies (1-0) and Bobcats (0-1) will square off at 7 p.m. at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.

Also on Friday, Elma (0-1) visits Eatonville (0-1), Chief Leschi (0-1) is at Ocosta (1-0), Raymond (0-1) travels to Charles Wright Academy of Tacoma (1-0), North Beach (0-1) is at South Bend (0-1) and Wishkah (0-0) journeys to Taholah (0-1). The latter two contests are non-league meetings of league rivals.

Montesano (1-0) takes on Cascade Christian (0-1) in a much-anticipated meeting of perennial state powers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner. Lake Quinault (1-0) visits Crescent (1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Willapa Valley (1-0) kicks off the week by hosting the Olympia junior varsity tonight at Crogstad Field.

Aberdeen-Hoquiam

The Grizzlies won last year’s meeting, 45-16, and enter Friday’s contest as favorites. They smacked Class 2A Centralia, 49-13, in last Friday’s season opener, while the Bobcats fell to Montesano, 38-0, the same night.

While any rivalry game — particularly one scheduled so early in the season — has its share of uncertainties, there are two givens about this year’s contest.

With several linemen topping the 250-pound mark, Aberdeen has the edge in size. Well-populated with members of the school’s state 1A championship track team, Hoquiam has a significant advantage in speed.

That’s the chief concern of Bobcat coach Terry Dion, whose team had difficulty containing Montesano’s quickness last week.

“They’re undoubtedly one of the fastest teams in the state of Washington,” Dion said of the Grizzlies. “And their quarterback (Evan Erickson) was extremely impressive last week. We have to play better perimeter technique and keep the ball inside of us. That’s what we had trouble with last week.”

Hoquiam coach Jason Ronquillo, meanwhile, is hoping to avoid a slugfest between the tackles.

“If those guys get their hands on you, we’ll be in trouble,” he said. “I thought they played better than the score indicated (against Montesano).”

Ronquillo’s pre-game objectives aren’t exactly state secrets.

“We’re hoping to use our speed to our advantage,” the Hoquiam coach asserted. “We’re hoping to outflank them in certain areas and spread the wealth. I want to be balanced between the run and pass and not be one-dimensional.”

The Grizzlies succeeded in that goal against Centralia, rushing for 151 yards and passing for 211. Ronquillo expressed disappointment only with one other statistic — the 110 yards his team logged in penalties.

The HHS coach cited Ronnie Espedal and Alex Munoz for their defensive play.

Dion agreed that the Bobcats performed better against Montesano than the score indicated, noting that many of their difficulties stemmed from inconsistency, lack of familiarity with a new system and facing a quality opponent in Montesano.

“We were a little imprecise,” the first-year AHS head coach said. “A lot of missed opportunities that we can hopefully polish up.”

Fullback-linebacker Bryceson Talley and linemen Kaleb Levao and Chris Johnson were credited with solid showings against the Bulldogs.

Bobcat lineman Jordon Logan is likely sidelined for the season with a torn knee ligament.

Friday’s game will be the second in a series of three high-profile season-opening contests for Hoquiam. The Grizzlies open Evergreen 1A League play with a showdown against Montesano on Sept. 14.

Aberdeen has two more non-leaguers — hosting Centralia and visiting Black Hills — before making its debut in the Greater St. Helens 2A League.

The Bobcats lead the series, 67-34-5. They’ve also won the last four meetings at Stewart Field, including a 20-0 upset in the 2010 game in which the stadium’s synthetic turf field was dedicated.

Montesano-Cascade Christian

In their first-ever regular-season meeting with Cascade Christian, the Bulldogs will be attempting to soothe at least some of the wounds from frustrating postseason experiences.

The Cougars from Puyallup have handed Monte season-ending playoff losses in three of the past four years. After overwhelming the Bulldogs, 35-14, in the 2008 state semifinals, Cascade Christian pulled out a 13-12 decision in the following season’s quarterfinals.

Last year’s defeat was the most agonizing for the Dogs, who outgained the Cougars by a substantial margin but still fell in triple overtime, 29-28, in the state semis.

State 1A finalists the past four years, the Cougars will be looking to rebound from a stunning season-opening defeat. Although returning seven offensive and four defensive starters from last year, Cascade Christian was thumped by Cashmere (which also traditionally boasts a strong state-class football program), 39-0.

Montesano coach Terry Jensen doesn’t put much stock in what he viewed via film from that contest.

“Cashmere executed well and Cascade had some untimely turnovers and penalties,” Jensen noted. “Like the Aberdeen game for us, I don’t think the score was truly an indication on how the game was contested.”

Among the Cascade Christian returnees is quarterback Jaelin Goldsmith, who as a freshman passed for nearly 200 yards against Monte in last year’s state semi. Hunter Austin is Cascade’s top ground threat. Mason Tobeck, the son of former Washington State and Seattle Seahawks center Robbie Tobeck, starts at tight end.

Montesano relied primarily on the passing of quarterback Matthew Jensen against Aberdeen. Improving the running game will be among Coach Jensen’s top priorities this week.

“Looking at the grades from the Aberdeen game, there was not a position that does not need to get better,” he summarized. “We are trying to find our identity as a football team. It looked on film that Cascade Christian was trying to do the same.”

Other games

Elma will be looking to bounce back following last week’s home loss to Class 2A Hockinson. The Eagles will be facing an Eatonville club that lost its opener to Orting.

Raymond continues a tough non-league slate at Charles Wright. The Class 1A Tarriers blasted away Tacoma Baptist, 56-6, in their opener.