Prep football preview: Hoquiam can clinch first league title in 30 years


A potential milestone at Hoquiam. An emotional Homecoming at Montesano. Two critical contests at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.

All of the above will be included in an unusually high-profile week of prep football on the Twin Harbors.

Hoquiam will seek its first league championship in more than 30 years when the unbeaten Grizzlies host Tenino in an Evergreen 1A League contest scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Olympic Stadium.

Montesano’s varsity will return to Rottle Field for the first time since fire destroyed the grandstand last month. The Bulldogs face Rainier in their homecoming contest.

Aberdeen and Hockinson, meanwhile, will collide in a must-win Evergreen 2A Conference game Friday night at Stewart Field.

The venerable Aberdeen stadium will also be the site for the Taholah-Wishkah Coastal League showdown at 1 p.m. Saturday.

HOQUIAM-TENINO

With a victory Friday, unbeaten Hoquiam would clinch no worse than a share of the Evergreen 1A title, plus the league’s top-seeded playoff berth. The Grizzlies last won an outright league championship when coach Jon Wahl guided them to the Black Hills League title in 1979, according to state historian Ralph Lovelace. They shared a league title with Elma in 2003, but the Eagles were the circuit’s top-seeded team that year

The fourth-ranked Grizzlies will be facing an explosive Tenino club that was also unbeaten as recently as three weeks ago. The Beavers, however, were outscored 90-13 by two state-ranked clubs — La Center and Montesano — the past two weeks. Both the Wildcats and Bulldogs were able to run effectively in those games.

Tenino still has the potential to wreak havoc offensively.

Beaver quarterback Mac Shaw (a transfer from Rainier) throws frequently, but seldom downfield. Many of his passes are designed to get the ball to Devante Harris, last year’s QB but now an all-purpose back. Shaw also runs well, usually from the shotgun formation.

“They do a lot of shovel passes, a lot of screens, a lot of flares,” Hoquiam coach Jason Ronquillo reported. “They try to get it into the athletes’ hands.

“It’s critical that we put enough pressure on the quarterback,” Ronquillo added. “As long as we put pressure on the quarterback and keep with our zone coverage, I think we’ll be OK.”

Drew Bravos and Dakota Boone were cited for their play in last week’s rout of Rainier.

ABERDEEN-HOCKINSON

This contest could be dubbed “Survivor: Stewart Field.” Both teams likely need victories to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Hockinson did its part last week by handing R.A. Long its first Greater St. Helens 2A League loss, 28-20.

Often operating from a spread formation, the Hawks from Brush Prairie have displayed a strong running game for much of the season. Their victories include a 40-21 conquest of Elma in a season-opening non-leaguer.

Aberdeen coach Terry Dion seems more concerned, however, about Hockinson’s gambling defense.

“They use a lot of three-man lines and they really bring the house,” Dion said. “Their philosophy is to bring more people than you can block.”

The Bobcats stayed mostly on the ground in last week’s 29-12 win over Washougal, although quarterback Veek Cheema was able to connect on some short passes to combat Washougal’s run-oriented defense.

This week, Dion said, “we have to effectively throw the ball and keep the chains moving.”

There’s good news and bad news on the Aberdeen personnel front this week.

A handful of varsity players, including two undisclosed starters, have been ruled academically ineligible for Friday’s contest. But stellar lineman Jaime Miranda, feared lost for the season with a knee injury, has been cleared for action, although Dion said he would probably be limited to playing offense this week.

Kaleb Levao, Chase Johnson, Justin Berkley and Carter Harris were cited for their performances last week. Harris has intercepted five passes this season.

OTHER GAMES

Montesano’s return to Rottle Field figures to be an emotional occasion. The state-ranked Bulldogs will be heavily favored over a winless Rainier squad.

The Evergreen 1A League’s fourth and final playoff-eligible spot will be on the line when Elma makes the long trek to Forks.

One of the area’s most intriguing match-ups will take place Saturday at Stewart Field, where Wishkah and Taholah clash in the Coastal League half of their league/non-league rivalry.

The Loggers and Chitwhins are two of the three teams unbeaten in league competition (Mary M. Knight is the other).

Wishkah won the non-league match-up, 56-38, in an often-contentious 3 1/2-hour contest that included 261 yards in penalties. The Chitwhins, however, were not at full strength in that contest and are coming off a stunning 108-42 drubbing of King’s Way Christian last week.