Battle-Tested Bearcats Ready for First Round of State


The No. 2 W.F. West football team didn’t get to its second straight state appearance in a day, or even a week.

The process to earn the second-highest seed for the 2A state playoffs started much, much earlier than that.

“We figured we were top four, to come out with the 2-seed, it's a result of our team working hard in the offseason and it translating to a good year and coming together as a team,” Bearcats coach Dan Hill said. “I’m pretty proud of the boys.”

The Bearcats reward for a strong season will be a matchup close to home at Centralia Tiger Stadium against No. 15 Ephrata, which poses a ton of problems despite a 6-4 record heading into the playoffs.

The Tigers have losses to just 4A Moses Lake, No. 5 Othello, East Valley (Yakima), and 1A No. 11 Cashmere. They enter the state playoffs on a six-game win streak, with a big win over Prosser, the team that ousted the Bearcats in the state playoffs a year ago.

“They do a good job using multiple formations, they have a strong kid at QB who runs it really well,” Hill said. “Their running back runs it well and the o-line fires off the ball. It's going to be a tough test for us. They dont look like a 15-seed, we’ll be tested.”

Ephrata is led by its quarterback, Travis Hendrick, who stars both ways as a linebacker as well. In the Tigers’ state-qualifying win over Clarkston last week, Hendrick ran for a score and took a pick-six to the house. Hendrick totaled 146 rushing yards on 23 carries, and senior back Nelson Barragan has 77 yards on 13 carries for a Tigers team that utilized a run-heavy approach in rainy and windy conditions, like the Bearcats last week.

Still, despite the added stakes and pressure that comes with the state playoffs, and being one of the top seeds, the Bearcats are taking the same approach they’ve taken all year. Hill wrote the same two numbers he writes on the board every week in the team room in prep for Ephrata.

“”It’s still 1-0, it gets written on the board every week,” he said. “We focus on getting better every practice and every week and that doesn’t change this week.”

The Bearcats take on the Tigers at Centralia Tiger Stadium this Friday at 4 p.m.