What The Footballs Foretell — There is a method to the madness of picking H.S. games


There is just three weeks of history behind this high school picks column, but last weekend was a good week — with one caveat.

After Saturday’s games were done, I was able to boast a 7-1 record in eight high school games picked. This is by far the best record this season, which equals the column’s very brief history. The one game I missed — Aberdeen’s road win over Centralia — is the one I’ve heard the most about.

Ray Ryan noted that he could have the best week in picking games, but he’ll hear the catcalls from the one game he missed. I am in that boat this week.

So, here is a half-serious explanation and a glimpse into my mindset when I sit down to make the picks this week.

For starters, most teams in the state have an early “show me” game. For that game, like Aberdeen’s road game against Centralia, the team has to show it is the team that has lived up to the hype/expectation/body of work after 2-3 weeks in the season. In other words, “show me” you are the good team your record or past history or current expectation says you are.

Honestly, the Bobcats were two yards away (against Montesano) from being a 3-0 team. Aberdeen’s first game and win against a team in the same classification (2A) is a good barometer to judge where it can go this season.

Some “show me” games don’t have to be wins to show what the team can accomplish. Monte’s road loss to Cascade Christian, 21-7, in week 2 and Elma’s road loss to Hockinson, 7-0, in week 1 fall in that category. You could call these good losses, or losses that lead to better things, but they show there’s something to these teams.

In the same vein, some teams — like North Beach, Willapa Valley and Hoquiam — haven’t had one yet or may not have one at all. Willapa Valley’s trip to Oyehut against North Beach may be both teams’ key game, while the Grizzlies are still trying to find their way.

Second, there is a home-field advantage in high school football, just like in the pro and college games. OK, that is a bit of an obvious statement, but read me out here.

For Aberdeen, it was traveling to Centralia, where the Tigers are pretty good at defending their home field. Also, the game was Centralia’s annual Shrine Game, a fundraiser for the Shriners Hospitals for Children, and the Tigers had plenty to play for. Add in an hour-plus bus ride for Aberdeen and you have a distinct home-field advantage for Centralia.

In determining the winner, home-field advantage is a three-to-six point swing in favor of the home team. For Centralia, it was a six-point spot and since I felt the teams were even overall, the Tigers were picked to win by six. OK, that’s a miss, but that’s the method.

To sneak a peak into this week’s picks, take a look at Montesano’s game against Woodland. The Bulldogs are “at home” at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field against a highly ranked Beavers squad. If Monte was playing at Rottle Field, this is a six-point advantage, because there are very few teams that can beat it there. However, at Stewart Field tonight, Monte has a great record there (6-0 since Rottle Field’s grandstands burned down), but a smaller advantage.

And finally, this is for fun. Please don’t take all of this seriously. (By the way, my record after three weeks is now 18-8.)

• • •

Tonight

Woodland Beavers (3-0) vs Montesano Bulldogs (2-1) at Stewart Field, Aberdeen — The Beavers are top-ranked in the ScoreCzar.com computer rankings after outscoring their first three opponents, 161-7. However, one of those teams was Seton Catholic, which is still adjusting from eight-man to 11-man football. This is a big in-district rivalry and both teams will want this game on their resume. Bulldogs 31, Beavers 28.

Friday

Black Hills Wolves (1-2) at Aberdeen Bobcats (2-1) — As stated above, Aberdeen could have been 3-0 entering this game and rocking into its final non-league matchup. Regardless, the Bobcats are firing on all cylinders and will continue to do so against the Wolves. Bobcats 31, Wolves 23.

Hoquiam Grizzlies (0-1, 0-3) at Rochester Warriors (1-0, 2-1) — Hoquiam is looking for a turnaround win after a rough start to the season. Rochester is rolling with wins over Rainier and Ridgefield, but neither of those teams are considered threats. That said, this game will be close, but look to Tyler Yarber to run away for Rochester. Warriors 28, Grizzlies 20.

Elma Eagles (1-0, 1-2) at Rainier Mountaineers (0-1, 1-2) — Elma’s aerial attack will find spots to bomb Rainier’s defense, but Todd Swinhart could run like Yarber did against the Mountaineers last week. That’s enough for me. Eagles 41, Mountaineers 21.

Ocosta Wildcats (0-1, 1-2) at Raymond Seagulls (0-0, 2-1) — This is a Pacific 2B League opener for the Gulls and they get a Wildcats team that fought hard against Willapa Valley in a loss last week. Gulls 32, Wildcats 13.

Naselle Comets (0-1, 1-2) at Willapa Valley Vikings (1-0, 2-1) — Last week, Naselle lost to North Beach, which had a losing streak against the Comets. This week, Willapa Valley doesn’t have that problem going into this game. Vikings 21, Comets 6.

Adna Pirates (0-3) at South Bend (0-2) — A tough season can get a little bit brighter for either South Bend or Adna in this non-league matchup. Both teams have struggled to start. The Indians should have more players at their disposal and should be competitive against the Pirates. Indians 22, Pirates 21.

Wishkah Loggers (2-1) at Muckleshoot Tribal Wolves (1-1) — A two-hour-plus drive for the Loggers to face the Wolves should take some of the starch out of them. However, not enough. In common opponents (Clallam Bay), Wishkah holds a 40-point edge. Loggers 49, Wolves 21.

Saturday

Mary M. Knight Owls (0-0) at Lake Quinault Elks (1-1) — The Owls have yet to play a game this season due to player shortages. The Elks will want to play this game to shake off the tough loss to Wishkah last week. Elks 56, Owls 7.

Rob Burns is a Daily World sports writer. He can be reached at (360) 537-3926 or via email at rburns@thedailyworld.com. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @RobRVR.