The countdown has gone from weeks to days, and soon will go to hours: it’s just about time to kick off the 2022 football season in Southwest Washington. Here’s where all the local sides will be playing this weekend, as we kick off a loaded fall of action on the gridiron.
The Dustin McGee era in the Hub City begins with a road cross-classification matchup against 1A Elma. The Tigers’ lone win last year came against a 1A side in Hoquiam, and they’ll hope to match that one week into 2022 against an Eagles side that went 4-3 last fall.
The most intriguing 2A matchup in the area — and arguably in the state — might well be two counties south this week. W.F. West thinks it has a group that can gate-crash the top of the state rankings, and has put together a non-league slate to test that theory. First up: Ridgefield, which took an undefeated record into the state tournament last year.
The Warriors will be following Chehalis down to Clark County, for another 2A vs. 1A matchup against the Cougars. Last season in Rochester, the Warriors thrashed SC 49-8, with five separate rushers finding the end zone.
It’s a long drive north to start the season for the T-Birds, and at the end of the road will be an interesting matchup with Burlington-Edison. The Tigers finished 6-3 playing in a loaded Northwest 2A League in 2021, with two of those losses coming to state semifinalists.
Garrett Baldwin’s turnaround job at Black Hills won’t get any sort of gimme to start, with the Wolves hosting 1A power Montesano to start their season. A fair few eyes in the 1A Evergreen will be wandering up to Tumwater for this one, to see how the Bulldogs are going to stack up as well.
One of two premier matchups between area teams this week, the Beavers will head out to Pe Ell for a clash with plenty of intrigue. Tenino’s looking to show that even without Takari Hickle it can be a team to beat. For its part, PWV’s been getting headlines as a potential team to take the next step in the 2B league ranks, and a crack at a top 1A side could be just what the Titans need to announce themselves.
The other all-area matchup comes in the 2B ranks, with new coach Jason Dunnagan leading Adna out to Tiger Town. Napavine’s journey back to the top can only begin one game at a time, though the Pirates have designs of their own with a slew of returning playmakers coming back.
The Riverhawks will get 2022 running on the road, crossing divisional lines to take on the Ravens. Toledo smacked RSB 39-8 behind two passing touchdowns and two rushing scores by Wyatt Nef. Now, it’s Austin Norris’ turn to take over the Toledo offense, and he’ll take it for his first drive Friday.
Last season quickly went downhill for Rainier, but the Mountaineers are back and trying to get 2022 off to a much different start. A road trip to Cathlamet is always a tough ask, and new quarterback Jake Meldrum will have to give Rainier a spark against the hard-nosed Mules.
For the second straight year, Mossyrock opens its season with a long road trip north, this time heading up to Concrete. Once the Vikings finally get to get off the bus, they’ll face up to a Lions team that hasn’t won a game since 2019.
Toutle Lake is still currently scheduled to play both 8-man and 11-man teams, but Winlock gets the first crack at the Ducks, and will do so 8-on-8. Last season, the Cardinals trounced TL 49-8, with Payton Sickles — now their starting quarterback — returning both a punt and a kick to the house.
Onalaska’s game against Oroville last season was canceled before it could be played, but it’s looking good for the Loggers to get a crack at the Hornets this time around. Kayden Mozingo is back to lead the Onalaska offense, with a bevy of new tailbacks to feed the ball around to.