To say the Southwest Washington 2B Football League (SWW 2B League) has been the class of the 2B football ranks in the state the past decade is putting it lightly.
A SWW 2B League team has won the state championship each of the last four seasons the tournament has been held. The league has also had a team play in the state title game every year since 2007. The last two state tournaments have featured an all-SWW 2B League semifinal.
“Every year it seems like, in this league, it’s a really, really competitive league, from top to bottom,” Onalaska coach Mazen Saade said.
Last few years, the league — which merges the 2B Central League and the 2B Pacific League into one powerhouse conference — has done some rearranging of the divisions to keep a competitive balance among the 15 or so teams.
Four years ago, the league was split up into the Mountain, River and Coastal divisions. For the next two years, it was split up into two divisions, the have and the have-nots.
This past season, which was postponed until February 2021, had teams split up into two upper divisions with the best teams in the league and a lower division with younger teams whose numbers were down.
Now, this season, there has been more rearranging, with two balanced divisions, the north and the south. The North Division consists of Napavine, Rainier, Forks, Raymond-South Bend, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, Morton-White Pass, Ilwaco, North Beach. The South Division will have Kalama, Onalaska, Adna, Toledo, Wahkiakum, Stevenson, Toutle.
“Everyone’s going to play and we’re gonna get away from this piece where we’re protecting schools,” Saade said. “I know both these divisions are going to be competitive with some of the best football in the 2Bs. Hands down, every year, the history of it speaks for itself.”
And, once again, it looks like the league may again be the tops in the state.
Onalaska is still the reigning state champions after defeating Kalama in the state title game in 2019 (there was no state tournament in 2020). They bring back 10 returning starters from a team that went 5-1, losing only to a powerful Napavine team. The two squads split their season matchups.
The Tigers also went 5-1 and also return 10 starters and will vie for a state title like the Loggers. Their main competition will be league foe Kalama, which returns what might be the top 2B quarterback in the state in Jackson Esary. Another contender could be Forks, a team that joined the league last season after dropping down from the vaunted 1A Evergreen Conference and proved to be worthy SWW 2B League opponents.
Toledo (4-2 last season) and Rainier (2-4) were both middle-of-the-pack in the upper divisions last year and could be fighting for one the the top spots in postseason as well.
Adna (1-5) and Pe Ell-Willapa Valley (1-4) were in the lower division last season and were both young teams with little experience. Both could see a bit of a rebound from last year with many of those underclassmen getting varsity reps last year. Morton-White Pass did well in the lower division, going 4-2 overall and 2-2 in league and could also see some improvement.
MWP coach Lee Metcalf said although the top teams in the league are cyclical, one can always count on at least one of the local squads making the state title game. The Timberwolves themselves played in three consecutive state titles from 2011-13.
“There are some quality teams here in this district, for sure,” Metcalf said. “I think it’s just because there’s a lot of farm kids out here. They’re blue-collar kids and they just sort of gravitate to football. It’s just sort of in their skillset. It makes for some competitive football games on Friday nights.”
Saade agreed, saying the football success of this area comes from having a mix of exceptional coaches and athletes, along with fans and parents who are passionate about the sport.
“People in this area love football,” Saade said. “It breeds toughness and competitiveness. Kids want to be a part of it. Year in, year out, there’s expectations in these towns, ‘Hey, next year up.’
“It’s the mindset of this county. This is a tough county. People here are workers. They’re blue-collar, they’re down to earth, they love America, they love football, they love running the ball right at people.”
Toledo and Rainier played in an offensive showcase Friday night, going toe-to-toe with Toledo coming out on top in a 48-42 win to open league crossover play. In other 2B action, Napavine handled Adna, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley thumped Ilwaco, and Morton/White Pass beat Stevenson soundly to open its season.