A few changes are in play for Aberdeen, while Hoquiam shakes itself off to host its final home game of the season.
The Bobcats will hit the road for the first of two long trips, this time to Washougal to take on the Panthers in a pivotal Greater St. Helens 2A League matchup. The Grizzlies will honor their seniors — in many of their fall sports — before kickoff against the Mountaineers in an Evergreen 1A contest.
It is also the calm before the storm in the Evergreen 1A and the Pacific 2B leagues, a prelude to a frantic final two weeks of the season.
It doesn’t get much more simple than this for Aberdeen (0-2, 2-4) — win the last three games on its schedule and begin preparations for the district crossover games. This is how AHS head coach Terry Dion and the Bobcats see it.
To do so, the Bobcats will make a few changes on offense, starting at quarterback. Sophomore fullback Joel Dublanko will take over for senior signal-caller Veek Cheema behind center. Junior Austin Floch, who played sparingly against R.A. Long due to a groin injury, will be back to full speed for Friday. He’ll be joined by senior Drew Stocker in the backfield.
“We smothered R.A. Long for the most part on both sides of the ball,” Dion asserted, “but we have not been very effective in the red zone in preventing touchdowns and scoring them. Offensively, we had 284 yards of offense. Mental mistakes and basic execution errors cost us more yardage and points, thus (we lost) the game.
“We need to have less turnovers and create more ourselves,” Dion added. “Our production on offense has been outstanding in yardage. We need to stop making mistakes that prevent us from scoring. Our defense and offense outperformed out last three opponents (R.A. Long, Mark Morris and Black Hills, all at home), but penalties, fumbles, mental mistakes and interceptions kept us from putting points on the board.”
Washougal owns a 1-1 record in league — a 36-18 win over winless Ridgefield and a 56-14 loss on the road at R.A. Long. Bobby Jacobs ran for 230 yards against Ridgefield last week and will power the Panthers’ offense.
While Aberdeen will hit the road, the trips haven’t been too bad for the Bobcats — both of the team’s wins this season have been on the road.
“Washougal has some talented athletes and are playing at home, which is notoriously tough place to play,” Dion added.
With Floch coming back into the fold off the injury list, Aberdeen placed senior running back/linebacker Collin Martin out for Friday’s game with a shoulder injury.
The final home game of the season for Hoquiam will be a bittersweet affair at Olympic Stadium. First, the team will honor its seniors, along with other fall sports athletes, who will play their last game on the historic field.
Second, the Grizzlies (0-3, 1-5) will begin their three-week campaign to shake up the Evergreen 1A, beginning with one-win Rainier.
“We don’t control our destiny anymore,” HHS head coach Rick Moore said. “We just have to go out on Friday nights, play the game and win. That’s what we have to do and must do. If we don’t, we won’t go to the show. We’re looking at three weeks left, including this week, so we need the help of others. We also have to help ourselves, too.”
Rainier started the season with a big win at home against Class 2B Naselle, then lost a heartbreaker to Mossyrock. After that, the Mountaineers have been on the receiving end of some lopsided losses.
“Rainier has to come here; they don’t seem very physical inside, but you can tell they play hard,” Moore said. “Their quarterback, McKoy Bichler, is an aggressive kid, very mobile. They run an option attack, veer option. We have to contain option responsibilities, which will be very important. I think the matchup is fairly even. Hopefully we can utilize our speed to control the line of scrimmage and create opportunities.”
Moore noted that sustaining drives on offense will benefit the defense, which has found itself on the field for long stretches of the previous games.
“Defensively, you can get gassed if you are out there too long,” Moore added. “The percentages pick up for the offense, obviously. That’s what happened to us.”
Standouts from last week were offensive guards — Chase Watters and Kenny Huffman — according to Moore. Moore also noted Jeff Capoeman’s efforts at quarterback in relief against Elma.
Montesano, after its big win over Rochester last Thursday, will stay at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field to take on Tenino in a matchup of one-loss league foes. The Beavers’ Zack Chamberlain is a two-way star at running back and linebacker and sophomore quarterback Calvin Guzman is coming into his own as a first-year starter.
“(Tenino) is solid in all of their skill positions,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said. “They can hurt you with the pass or the run. They don’t turn the ball over and compete hard. Our focus is on improving, working to get better at what we do, attention to detail. The little things can turn into big results. We have had great effort, but the execution has really lacked consistency. It has been a roller-coaster type of season.”
Despite the ankle injury suffered late in the third quarter against Rochester, junior running back Anthony Louthan will be available to play for Montesano.
Last week, Tenino hosted LaCenter in a non-league matchup and fell, 46-17. The Wildcats (5-0, 6-0) currently share the Trico League lead with Woodland.
Staying in East County, Elma will have its league bye on Friday and will entertain winless Ilwaco, of the Trico League. Eagle linebacker Ricky Escalante, who suffered a sprained knee against Hoquiam, will sit out this week’s non-leaguer and, according to coach Jim Hill, will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.