Prep Football Preview: Aberdeen starts GSHL 2A play, while Hoquiam hosts Homecoming

There are a lot of events and preparation on the minds of Aberdeen and Hoquiam football players this week.

For the Bobcats, all of the non-league work will begin to see fruit when they travel to Longview to take on Mark Morris in their first-ever Greater St. Helens 2A League game of the season on Friday.

At the same time, the Grizzlies will be prepping Olympic Stadium to greet district rival Castle Rock on their Homecoming night.

Aberdeen-Mark Morris

The 10th-ranked Monarchs (3-1) will welcome the Bobcats (1-3) to Longview Stadium on the campus of R.A. Long High School on Friday.

Aberdeen is shaking off a dominant, yet tough-luck loss to Black Hills, a game that saw the Bobcats control the first half and give up big scoring plays to the Wolves to lose.

“In some ways, it felt like a win,” AHS head coach Terry Dion said. “If you take away the three big plays and watch the tape, you thought we’d won the game. I was ready to be disappointed until I saw the film. There was a lot of good things that came out of that game, so I’m going to focus on them.”

For the next five games in league, Aberdeen is aiming for a 3-2 record that will send it into the district crossover games and a chance to secure a state playoff berth. That is Dion and the Bobcats’ goal, but also to continue their season-long goal of improvement.

“Our goal is to improve every week and we’ve done that,” Dion said. “One of the good things is that there are less things to work on, because there are less things going wrong during the games. We felt like we should have won or at least had a better score last week, but now, bygones are bygones. We’re focused on Mark Morris.”

Mark Morris is led by several key players, starting with running back Hayden Tapani, wings Austin Johnson and Keigan Baker and fullback Ryan Littlefield. Tapani leads the team in rushing, but was injured and didn’t play against Prairie last week.

Littlefield, Johnson (the Trico League Offensive Player of the Year at Kalama last year) and Baker anchor the Monarchs’ linebacker corps in a 3-5 formation. Defensively, Mark Morris has given up just 30 points this season in four games.

Hoquiam-Castle Rock

The fifth-ranked Grizzlies step away from Evergreen 1A play this week to host Homecoming and greet the Rockets, who are coming off a tough loss to Trico rival LaCenter last week.

Hoquiam kept its momentum going after the Montesano game by rolling over Rochester, 54-7. This week, the distraction of Homecoming complicates matters as it prepares for Friday night at Olympic Stadium.

“I thought the kids executed very well in all aspects of the game,” HHS head coach Jason Ronquillo said of the Rochester win. “We have to keep the kids focused and keep things simple for them when they have a lot of things going on is important. We don’t want to make them think too much and stress them out.”

With that in mind, Ronquillo noted that Castle Rock looks very similar on film to what Hoquiam runs on offense and defense and has applied that to practices.

“Castle Rock has always generated a good football team and have done well,” Ronquillo added. “You don’t want to have the kids thinking too much and overanalyze what Castle Rock is going to do. When kids think too much, they slow down. Watching them on tape, you see that they’re very similar to us on offense and defense.”

Rocket quarterback Cale Johnson is a familiar figure to many of the Grizzlies. The senior quarterback is a three-sport athlete and played on a traveling club basketball team with several of the Grizzlies over the summer. Johnson will be the main offensive cog for Castle Rock, along with fullback Levi Godinho.

Defensively, Ronquillo and his coaches noted the Rockets’ defensive front line, led by nose guards Easton Stoner and Colton Dow.

From last week’s game, Alex Munoz on defense and Joel Brydon, Cole Smith and Evan Erickson on offense were cited for their efforts.

Other games

Twelve days after the Rottle Field grandstand was destroyed by fire, Montesano will venture to Aberdeen’s Stewart Field to host Forks.

The Spartans, who landed the Evergreen 1A’s fourth and final playoff-eligible berth last year, managed a respectable showing against Tenino’s high-powered offense last week before falling, 28-12. The Spartans pounded out 261 yards of rushing in that contest and were still in the contest until Tenino’s Devante Harris returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown in fourth quarter.

The ninth-ranked Bulldogs, meanwhile, rebounded from a rare two-game losing streak by thumping previously unbeaten Woodland, 49-7.

Coming off a 47-15 rout of Rainier, Elma will make a short road trip to Rochester. The Warriors were blasted by Hoquiam, 54-7, last week.

Unbeaten Willapa Valley, ranked fourth, will visit a Pe Ell club whose 1-3 record is deceptive. Pe Ell’s lone win came at the expense of state-ranked Napavine. Counting Valley, four of Pe Ell’s first five opponents have been state-ranked at one point during the season.

Taholah and Lake Quinault will collide at Amanda Park on Saturday in an unusually early edition of the annual River Bowl. Both teams have been short-handed due to injuries and eligibility issues, but are expected to be close to full strength on Saturday.