One of Grays Harbor’s most spirited rivalries will be renewed in Elma, while Aberdeen will be returning to a familiar location in Longview.
Unbeaten Hoquiam visits Elma in a pivotal Evergreen 1A football matchup Friday night at Davis Field.
Aberdeen, meanwhile, will play at Longview Stadium for the second consecutive week. After losing to Mark Morris last week, the Bobcats will this time take on R.A. Long in a Greater St. Helens 2A League contest.
This is a rare week in which all eight games involving Twin Harbors teams will be played on Friday night.
The Grizzlies and Eagles have split their last 10 meetings, with Hoquiam winning the last two and Elma the two before that.
While few of the recent contests have been particularly close (Hoquiam’s 41-38 win in 2010 being the exception), most have been high-scoring. Indications are that Friday’s game will continue that trend.
Ranked fifth among state 1A teams, Hoquiam is averaging 49 points per game. The Eagles haven’t attained that standard, but Elma coach Jim Hill says that’s largely because of mistakes in the red zone.
“We’ve had the ball six times inside the 5 and and nine times inside the 10 when we haven’t produced a touchdown,” he said. “In the three games we’ve lost, we haven’t been overwhelmed by our opponents physically. We haven’t been stopped by anybody, it’s been our lack of execution.”
Multi-dimensional Hoquiam is loaded with big-play specialists, ranging from running backs Nolan Hoiness and Paul Girts to quarterback Evan Erickson.
Hill is aware his club can’t match Hoquiam’s speed, but is hopeful that strong line play can at least limit the damage.
“It comes down to being physical at the point of attack and altering their path,” the veteran Elma coach said. “If you don’t alter their path, you’re not going to catch them.”
Elma utilizes a no-huddle shotgun formation, with quarterback Layne Sutten at the controls. The Eagles have also run more effectively that many projected, with Brian Maslen serving as the primary ball-carrier.
Noting that his club hasn’t faced a stylistic equivalent to the Eagles this season, Hoquiam coach Jason Ronquillo has been stressing discipline on defense. Specifically, he doesn’t want his troops trying to outguess the Eagles when they are in the no-huddle.
“Elma will use a checkback system (after initially calling the play),” Ronquillo said. “I don’t want our kids to be thinking about that stuff. I just want them to play football.”
The Grizzlies, he said, will also be focusing on establishing a running game.
Ronquillo cited center Joel Brydon on offense, Jaycob Guined and Dakota Boone on defense and Brenner Carlstrom on special teams for their performances in last week’s 53-0 drubbing of Castle Rock.
While not unprecedented, it is rare for a Grays Harbor team to play two consecutive road games in the same stadium.
Looking for a better experience than last week’s 42-6 loss to state-ranked Mark Morris, Aberdeen coach Terry Dion said his team will depart the Harbor about 30 minutes earlier than last week.
“Defensively, we didn’t play with much passion,” Dion said of the Mark Morris game. “It was the first long road trip and we didn’t get off the bus.”
The Bobcats will be facing an R.A. Long club that is no stranger to wild contests. The Lumberjacks won a 42-41 shootout from the Bobcats in a non-leaguer last year at Stewart Field, then rallied from a 23-6 deficit after three quarters last week to overtake Washougal, 34-31.
Running back Jacob Yordy was the catalyst to last week’s comeback, scoring four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. Keeping tabs on Yordy will be one of Aberdeen’s top priorities this week, Dion confirmed.
The Aberdeen coach said his club played better offensively last week than the score indicated.
“Just watching tape, we probably left 200 yards (of total offense) out on the field,” Dion said, noting that his team was plagued by such subtle mistakes as choosing the wrong routes or making the wrong cuts.
Aberdeen lineman Jaime Miranda, an all-league performer last year, will likely be sidelined for the season with a torn knee ligament.
Lorenzo Ontiveros and Carter Harris were selected as the Bobcats of the Week for their performances against Mark Morris.
Riding a two-game winning streak, 10th-ranked Montesano will take to the road to face a Rochester club that has lost decisively to Hoquiam and Elma.
Coastal League rivals Wishkah and Lake Quinault will face off at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field. The Elks, who bowed out of a recent non-leaguer with the Loggers due to a shortage of players, have seen their roster swell to 22 due to the resolution of eligibility issues.
Perhaps the week’s most unusual game will be played at Westport. Confronted with an open week on its schedule when Northwest Christian opted against fielding a team this season, Ocosta has agreed to shift to 8-man ball for this week only and host Jewell, Ore., in a non-leaguer. Last seen on the Twin Harbors when they played South Bend during a short period when the Indians were an 8-man independent club, the Bluejays from the northwest corner of Oregon have outscored their opponents 210-8 this season.