With an unusually high-profile early season schedule, the Twin Harbors prep football season kicks off next weekend.
The opening-week slate, composed exclusively of non-league contests, will feature what is believed to be the first Aberdeen-Montesano football matchup since 1930. The Bobcats and Bulldogs will collide Friday night at Montesano’s Rottle Field.
All seven Friday night contests involving Twin Harbors teams will be contested in Grays Harbor or Pacific counties.
Hoquiam hosts erstwhile league rival Centralia, Elma is home against Hockinson and Taholah entertains reigning state 1B champion Neah Bay. Willapa Harbor rivals South Bend and Willapa Valley will clash in a non-leaguer at Menlo, highly regarded Raymond will host Class 1A Tenino and North Beach will also be on its home turf to face Toutle Lake.
Highland Christian of Arlington pulled out of a scheduled Friday night contest with Wishkah at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field and Wishkah officials are attempting to line up a replacement game on short notice.
Two Grays Harbor schools will hit the road for Saturday afternoon contests, with Lake Quinault at Evergreen Lutheran and Ocosta making the long trek to Concrete.
Week Two of the season also figures to be interesting, with the 107th renewal of the Aberdeen-Hoquiam rivalry on Sept. 7 at Stewart Field and Montesano visiting traditional state power and recent playoff nemesis Cascade Christian the following night.
While none of the 12 Twin Harbors changed classifications in this reclassification year (although its enrollment is 1B-sized, Willapa Valley continues to opt up to the 2B class), all four area football leagues have been restructured to some extent.
Aberdeen shifted — for football only — from the rugged Evergreen 2A Conference to the smaller Greater St. Helens 2A League, where the Bobcats will be facing opponents from Cowlitz and Clark counties. The Bobcats do, however, have non-leaguers scheduled against former Evergreen 2A rivals Centralia and Black Hills.
Onalaska’s drop to the 2B classification has trimmed Evergreen 1A League membership to seven — Montesano, Hoquiam, Elma, Tenino, Forks, Rochester and Rainier.
The Pacific 2B League also lost one school when Northwest Christian dropped football this season.
King’s Way Christian, last year’s Pacific Coast Football League champion, jumped all the way from the 1B to 1A classification this season. The Knights will continue to play 8-man football as an independent against the likes of Wishkah, Taholah and Lake Quinault, but those games are designated as non-leaguers and King’s Way is ineligible for playoff competition.