For nearly 50 years, Ray Ryan has spent the high school football seasons waxing poetic on life, liberty and the pursuit of the pigskin across a grassy gridiron on Friday nights.
Ryan’s picks — Uncle Ray’s Raspberry — provided entertainment, humor and a bit of bulletin board material for Twin Harbors football teams. It has been fun to read — and edit — over the years.
And now, Ryan has stepped away. The honor of taking over this duty has fallen to me and it truly is an honor to do so.
I have some big shoes to fill.
With that, let’s take this first installment of the 2013 season to get a few items out of the way.
• First off, a large and heartfelt thanks to Ray Ryan. Ryan has forgotten more about sports and life on the Twin Harbors than I’ll ever know. I may not write about interpretations of the check-swing in baseball, like Ryan has in the past, but I have a very big standard to live up to here. I intend to do so. Thank you, Ray.
• Second, you will find your usual assortment of picks from the Twin Harbors every week here. You’ll also find a few key Southwest Washington games and a couple of college games thrown in for good measure. Will they count in the season standings? Maybe.
• Third, I’m going to try as hard as possible to keep this space football related — high school, college and pro. That will keep my general column (And Now …) open for everything else during the football season and in the off-season. Football will be spoken here.
• Fourth, when will a Twin Harbors team get the chance to participate in the Emerald City Football Classic again? Do the powers that be in the WIAA office believe Montesano won’t bring a near-full house? Doesn’t a Raymond-Waitsburg-Prescott game make you want to travel to Seattle to see these two 2B powers collide? How about Hoquiam-Cascade (Leavenworth)? Or, Montesano-Royal? Or, Willapa Valley-Concrete? In the inaugural ECFC in 2003, the WIAA set up then-state champion Tumwater against Elma, with the T-Birds winning, 34-6, at Qwest Field. After that, nothing for Twin Harbors teams. Harbor teams have proven they travel well, not to mention compete well, too. Ten years between appearances is too long, WIAA. So, how about it?
• • •
Finally, we get to Week 1. Remember kids, these picks are for entertainment purposes. Don’t take them seriously. This is all fun and games, until someone gets their eye poked out.
Montesano Bulldogs at Aberdeen Bobcats — The reigning state 1A champions will begin the season with a matchup against an improved Aberdeen squad at Stewart Field, which will host some Montesano games as well until Rottle Field is back in operation. The Bobcats have been looking forward to this all off-season, but should be careful what they wish for. Bulldogs 34, Bobcats 21.
Hoquiam Grizzlies at Centralia Tigers — This marks the return to the sideline as a head coach for Rick Moore, but he won’t be alone. Centralia, which finished 0-9 last year, has a new coach in Matt Whitmire (former Pe Ell and White Salmon coach). Thus, in a battle of new coaches, who had more time to set up their programs? Moore did, since he has been in the Hoquiam program for several years as an assistant prior to the promotion. Grizzlies 24, Tigers 21.
Elma Eagles at Hockinson Hawks — Elma coach Jim Hill noted that he and his coaches were having fun coaching the Eagles this season. Elma should be much improved and will threaten Monte and Hoquiam in the Evergreen 1A. In this opener, can the Eagles stop the Hawks’ fourth-year starting quarterback Jess Krahn? Hawks 33, Eagles 28.
Raymond Seagulls at Tenino Beavers — Last year, Tenino was senior-laden and stocked with talent, while Raymond was learning what it had en route to a state 2B quarterfinal appearance. It is just the opposite this time and the talent/momentum is on the Gulls’ side. Gulls 41, Beavers 21.
Willapa Valley Vikings at South Bend Indians — This is the 124th meeting between Pacific County rivals Valley and South Bend and this one is a non-league encounter. Valley returns an experienced group to the squad, while the Indians are still rebuilding. Vikings 35, Indians 6.
North Beach Hyaks at Toutle Lake Ducks — One question the Hyaks’ opponents must answer this season is this: can you stop the run without knowing where the ball is? North Beach’s Double Wing offense is entrenched into every players’ football DNA and the Ducks are the first to answer this question. Last year, the Ducks did. This time? Ducks 27, Hyaks 21.
Taholah Chitwhins at Neah Bay Red Devils — A rough offseason for the Chitwhins will give way to actual football, even if it is against the top-ranked Red Devils. It is a tough start to Taholah’s 1B/eight-man independent schedule. Red Devils 56, Chitwhins 12.
Concrete Lions at Ocosta Wildcats — The schedule makers weren’t kind to the rebuilding Wildcats. First-year head coach Brad Kesterson and his players will take on a young, but playoff-experienced Lions club that is expected to challenge for the Northwest/SeaTac 2B League title. Lions 49, Wildcats 16.
Clallam Bay Bruins at Wishkah Loggers — After two seasons away, the Loggers will return to Addison Field. They will greet the Bruins, who are improved, but a step behind rivals Neah Bay and Lummi. In this opener, it should be super competitive. Bruins 28, Loggers 26.
No. 14 Notre Dame at No. 17 Michigan — At the end (for now) of a rivalry, just flip a coin. Notre Dame 31, Michigan 27.
Washington State at No. 25 USC — Honestly, the Cougars should be 1-0 after playing Auburn last weekend. Alas, football isn’t always fair. However, are the Cougars improved enough to go after USC in the L.A. Coliseum? Not yet. Trojans 34, Cougars 28.