Prep Football Preview: Postseason berths in the balance for most teams

The road to postseason playoffs will send many Twin Harbors football teams to the road this weekend.

Aberdeen and Hoquiam will travel to Hockinson and Tenino, respectively, for win-or-else contests. Montesano visits Rainier in another critical game Friday and Wishkah journeys to Mary M. Knight on Saturday for a match-up important for district playoff seedings.

Two of the area’s most interesting games, however, will take place Friday on Grays Harbor’s two Davis fields. Elma will host Forks in another of the seemingly endless Evergreen 1A crucials. Morton/White Pass, the state’s top-ranked Class 2B team, will trek to Lt. Jim Davis Field in Oyehut to face No. 7 North Beach in an attractive non-leaguer.

Aberdeen at Hockinson

Although winless in Greater St. Helens 2A League play, Aberdeen retains legitimate postseason hopes.

If the Bobcats can win their final two contests (this week and at home against winless Ridgefield on Nov. 1) and Washougal loses to league co-leader Mark Morris this week and Hockinson the following Friday, Aberdeen, Washougal and Hockinson will finish in a three-way tie for the final district crossover berth. Some type of Kansas Tiebreaker playoff would then be necessary to determine that slot.

Aberdeen will be facing a Hockinson team that underwent a midseason makeover.

A low-scoring ball-control club early in the campaign (they beat Elma, 7-0, in their season opener), the Hawks shifted to a spread offense that as, AHS coach Terry Dion noted, “makes them much more dynamic offensively than they were earlier in the season.”

Quarterback Jess Krahn, a four-year starter, passed for 304 yards and two touchdowns as the Hawks pushed unbeaten R.A. Long to the limit before falling, 34-30, last week. The Lumberjacks needed a second-half comeback and two defensive stops inside their 15-yard line to pull that out.

The Bobcats are coming off one of their more frustrating defeats in a season filled with such contests. Ahead for the majority of the contest, they fell victim to six turnovers in a 28-21 loss to Washougal.

“That is probably the most inconsistent that we have played this year,” Dion said. “The turnovers definitely cost us the game.”

He noted Drew Stocker, Deon Schlesser and the offensive line for their play in that contest.

Hoquiam at Tenino

The Grizzlies have the formidable task of winning their final two games, both on the road, to keep their playoff hopes alive. Even then, they would need a Rochester victory over Tenino in their league finale to qualify for a tiebreaker playoff.

As demonstrated in last week’s 26-6 conquest of Montesano, Tenino will be a formidable opponent. Quarterback Calvin Guzman and running backs Thomas Pier and Zack Chamberlain all rushed effectively in that contest. Although known more for his elusiveness on keepers, Guzman was also accurate on mid-range passes against the Bulldogs.

Hoquiam coach Rick Moore said keeping Tenino’s offense off the field will be one of the keys.

“Last week (in a 46-9 rout of Rainier), we utilized our speed, hit some big plays and got our time of possession up a little bit,” Moore noted. “But time of possession, I think, is going to be critical to (this week’s) outcome.”

Moore cited the running of Devin Kelly, Brenner Carlstrom and Tyler White and the two-way performances of Jerod Steen and Chase Watters against Rainier.

Morton/White Pass at North Beach

After making the long trip to Randle in each of the past years, the Hyaks are happy to stay at home to greet the top-ranked Timberwolves on Friday.

They might be happier if Morton/White Pass wasn’t so talented. The Timberwolves haven’t been seriously challenged this season, even blowing out fourth-rated Napavine, 41-7. Their closest game was a 26-0 win over Toutle Lake — a club that North Beach also downed, 34-13.

North Beach coach Todd Bridge said Morton/White Pass is much bigger but not quite as quick up front as Pacific League leader Raymond. The Gulls and Timberwolves are similar in the backfield, with Brian Reynolds the top Morton/White Pass ball-carrying threat.

“Morton/White Pass is more eclectic in their formations,” Bridge said. “(You’re) never really sure of what you are going to see. Many times plays are seen only once a game.”

North Beach’s approach, according to Bridge, is “Do we belong? Do we deserve the state ranking. Do we deserve the accolades? The coaching staff has preached and preached ‘One game at a time’ and that rankings are worthless and detrimental. I think the boys have responded well to that.”

Other games

With a win over Forks, Elma would gain a tie for the league lead with Rochester (idle in league play this week) and possibly Tenino. The Eagles would also clinch some type of crossover playoff berth.

Competitive with everyone in the league aside from Rochester (a team that also decisively beat Elma), Forks owns a 14-12 win over Montesano and took Tenino into overtime before falling.

Montesano will be favored to rebound against a Rainier team that is winless in league play.

The Ocosta at Naselle game will determine the Pacific League’s final postseason berth.