We’ll start this week with an editor’s note: “Penultimate” is one of my favorite words in the English language, and if you read our coverage closely, you’ll learn that I sneak it into nearly every article I can. Anyways, it’s the penultimate week of the football regular season, but with Week 8 full of non-league rivalries, this weekend is where serious moves are going to be made in terms of standings, crossovers and championships. To the matchups:
Centralia at Hoquiam
We’ve already done the “If it’s going to happen, it’s got to happen now” line for Centralia… and it didn’t happen then. But we really mean it this time. Hoquiam — coincidentally the team the Tigers beat for their most recent win in 2021 — has lost five straight games by four touchdowns or more. That includes a 41-7 loss to the Elma team that Centralia took to overtime back in Week 1. Last week in a 31-24 loss to Black Bills, the Tigers showed that despite being winless, they’re not rolling over, and Roman Cando showed that he can be a true lead back with a 121-yard performance.
W.F. West at Aberdeen
It’ll be a battle for second place in the 2A EvCo out in Grays Harbor County on Friday, with the Bearcats picking up steam at the right time after back-to-back quality wins over Rochester and Prairie. The key for the Bearcats could well be how they start. W.F. West has yet to score more than seven points in a first quarter this year, and while the defense has done a very good job of shutting things down while the offense takes its time to wake up, that’s still playing with fire. Coming off the bus from a long ride the Friday, the Bearcats are going to need to hit the ground running from the opening kickoff, lest they fall prey to any Harbor weirdness.
Rochester at Tumwater
The EvCo this year very neatly splits into three “haves” and three “have-nots” with Rochester smack in the middle having played the entirety of the second group before starting with the first. The good news for the Warriors is that they’re still all but assured of a crossover spot no matter what happens this Friday. The bad news (for Rochester, at least) is that Tumwater is looking more and more like a state contender with each passing week, led by a defense that’s pitched two straight shutouts.
Black Hills at Shelton
Black Hills finally got into the win column last Friday, and the Wolves have a prime chance to build a bit of momentum late in the season, taking on a 2-5 Shelton team who also got its only league win over Centralia. We won’t go so far as to say that Black Hills has completely fixed its issue with ending games, after being outscored 15-7 in the second half against the Tigers, but Jaxsen Beck proved that at his best he can lead the Wolves through the rough patches, and Jack Ellison is starting to turn into a weapon in the run game as well as the passing attack.
Montesano at Tenino
When you only have to finish fourth in a five-team league to make the postseason, it doesn’t take much to qualify, and Tenino’s two-game winning streak against lowly Hoquiam and Elma has gotten the Beavers there. Up next, though, is a date with an undefeated Montesano team which has yet to allow more than seven points in a game. The Beavers won’t want to see their rivals clinch the 1A Evergreen League on their home turf, but it’ll take a huge upset to avoid it.
Onalaska at Adna, and Toledo at Kalama
It’s the first — and only — week where all four teams in the SWW 2B South Division will all be playing league games, and it’s predictably going to be a huge week. Going in, here’s how the standings set up:
Setting aside the fact that we’re a week and a half from the end of the season and two teams have only played one league game, it’s make or break time, especially for Onalaska and Toledo who both are playing their third and final divisional matchup.
Crucially, Onalaska has the tiebreaker over Toledo, Toledo has the tiebreaker over Adna, and Kalama has the tiebreaker over Onalaska. There are four possible combinations of results this Friday; two of them end up with a different team clinching first:
Remember that at the end of all of this, all four teams get crossover spots. Maybe four-team leagues aren’t the best idea.
Pe Ell-Willapa Valley at Forks
Only slightly better are five-team leagues. PWV currently sits in second place in the 2B North at 2-1, behind 2-0 Napavine and ahead of 1-1 Raymond-South Bend and 1-1 Forks. The Titans can all but assure themselves of hosting a crossover with a win, and all it will take is a three-and-a-half-hour bus ride to face a tough Spartan team in hostile territory. PWV had a good time throwing the ball last week — even though it didn’t directly lead to many points — with Nate Fluke going 12 for 18 through the air against RSB. That could be a valuable new facet to the Titans’ offense going forward.
Napavine at Raymond-South Bend
Napavine would need to pair a win this week with a PWV win over Forks to clinch the league title before next week, but the Tigers have to be feeling good about themselves after putting it all together in a 70-12 win over Kalama last Saturday. After rolling through league play with a few blemishes and imperfections in otherwise easy wins, Napavine looked well and truly like the juggernaut they’d been billed as, and that’s a really, really, scary thought for RSB — and anyone else who happens to get in their way in the postseason.
Wahkiakum at Rainier
Speaking of rolling, Rainier is building up the type of momentum that it hasn’t seen pre-COVID days. Next up will be the premier matchup in the SWW 2B West Division, with the Mountaineers face Wahkiakum in a battle of undefeated-in-league teams with first place on the line. The two teams played each other in a Week 1 non-league matchup that turned out to be an absolute banger, with Wahkiakum taking a one-point lead with 29 seconds left, only for Rainier to march down the field and win on a Jake Meldrum dive on the last play of the game.
Mossyrock at Winlock
Winlock is also rolling, having won three straight to pull up to 3-3 on the season. But Mossyrock is flying, sitting at 6-0 in 8-man games and coming off a 62-8 thrashing of Naselle that set the 1B world abuzz. The Vikings were contenders coming into the season, but now’s about the time we may hear about them in the talk of favorites when it’s all said and done in the first week of December. Priority No. 1 (and probably No. 2 and No. 3) for Mossyrock will be containing James Cusson, who is becoming a one-man wrecking crew for the Cardinals at tailback.
Oakville at Muckleshoot Tribal
Oakville put its best game together last Saturday in all phases in a win over winless Sound Christian, and now gets the chance to follow it up against winless Muckleshoot Tribal. Possibly the best sign from last week’s win for the Acorns is that they scored four offensive touchdowns, and only one of them went from Gio to Daniel Rodas. That type of balance, with Courtney Price and Koner Burnett factoring into the passing attack, will make them a whole lot better.
Cedar Park Christian at Morton-White Pass
MWP gets is second (slightly confusing) non-league matchup in a row, as 1A Cedar Park Christian comes three hours south from Bothell and goes around Mt. Rainier to get to Randle. The Eagles are 4-3 and 2-1 in the 1A Emerald Sound League, giving the 1-6 T-Wolves another uphill battle, but at least this time, MWP will get the home field advantage behind it.