What to watch in Week 8 of prep football season around the South Sound and beyond:
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Big opportunity for Bonney Lake: Most are expecting a Lakes-Peninsula rematch for the SPSL 3A title next weekend. Bonney Lake can get in that mix by upending the Lancers on Friday – an opponent it is 0-5 all-time against. “We are still in this dogfight,” Panthers coach Jason Silbaugh said.
Remember me? Last season, Shadle Park’s Brett Rypien set the state’s single-game passing record by passing for 577 yards in a 62-55 loss to Central Valley. He broke that earlier this month with a 613-yard day against Mount Spokane. Rypien faces Central Valley on Friday.
Guaranteed not to lose: Heading into Week 8, 34 schools in Washington 11-man football have not won a game this season. Two of them – Mount Tahoma and Shelton – face on Friday night in a Narrows 3A game. “It is both our teams’ Super Bowl,” Thunderbirds coach Kevin Hanis said.
Let’s get physical: Before the season, Fife coach Kent Nevin and Sumner coach Keith Ross joked that the game between their teams could finish with a 3-0 score. They play Friday – and defense should be the name of the game. The Trojans beat league champion Sumner, 24-14, last season.
Eagle pride: Since opening in the SPSL South in 2006, Graham-Kapowsin has finished second twice, and third three times – but never won a league title in football, That can change Friday if the Eagles defeat Beamer. “We’ve always wanted to get in on the board,” coach Eric Kurle said.
GAMES TO WATCH:
Kentwood (5-2) at Auburn Riverside (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium, Auburn
About the Conquerors: Despite a recent two-game skid, here they are – in line to win their seventh SPSL North title since 1997. Three years ago, Kentwood put in a package to pressure the quarterback of spread offenses – and it should come in handy Friday. And on offense, they will take their shots down the field to WR Terence Grady (31 catches, 582 yards, six TDs).
About the Ravens: It is pretty simple Friday – beat the Conks, win your first divisional football title. The closest they’ve come is finishing third in the SPSL 3A (2006-07). Auburn Riverside wants to make this game a shootout, and will let QB Kevin Thomson (76-143, 1,313 yards, 13 TDs) try to pick apart vulnerable Kentwood secondary.
TNT pick: Kentwood, 26-24.
No. 10 Wilson (6-1) at No. 7 Lincoln (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Lincoln Bowl, Tacoma
About the Rams: A win, and Wilson captures its first league title since 2001. The question is – can the Rams flush last week’s 14-13 loss to Foss? Their home-run threats on offense – QB Julius Yates-Brown (1,075 yards total offense, 18 TDs), RB Isaiah Simpson (95 carries, 909 yards 13 TDs) and WR Brandon Montgomery (10 total TDs) – will need big games.
About the Abes: This is all coach Jon Kitna and company could ask for – staying alive for the league crown. The last time they were in the hunt this late was 2004, finishing second to Capital in the Narrows Bay. Certainly Lincoln has the athletes to run with the Rams, and QB Jordan Kitna (94-147, 1,556 yards, 24 TDs) is responsible for distributing the goods.
TNT pick: Lincoln, 31-28.
No. 2 Cascade Christian (7-0) at No. 10 Eatonville (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday, B.W. Lyon Field, Eatonville
About the Cougars: Seen this before? Both teams faced off for the divisional title last season – and the Cruisers won, 29-6. Favored Cascade Christian comes into this rematch without leading RB Hunter Austin (knee). Look for RB Riley Ramos (30 carries, 269 yards, three TDs) and QB Jaelin Goldsmith (207 rushing yards, three TDs) to pick up the rushing slack.
About the Cruisers: Even hardcore Cruisers fans have to tip their hat to coach George Fairhart on the job he’s done in 2013 by filling 16 new starting spots. The strength is the 5-7 players he rotates on the offensive line, led by C Jonathan Warner, which allows Fairhart to play power-running football. Both offenses mirror each other with lots of unbalanced formations.
TNT pick: Cascade Christian, 20-17.
STATE GAME OF THE WEEK
2A No. 1 Lynden (7-0) at 3A Ferndale (6-1), 7 p.m. Friday, Memorial Field, Ferndale
The skinny: Seemingly every offseason, Ferndale football coach Jamie Plenkovich is asked the same question around town – and it isn’t about winning a state title. “It is, ‘You are going to beat Lynden, right?’” Plenkovich said. The two Northwest Conference rivals from difference classifications are split the past eight meetings – with the Lions winning four games in a row, including 49-14 last season. Yet, as both teams are supposedly in reloading mode, Lynden appears to still be a viable contender for its third Class 2A title in a row. All-state quarterback Josh Kraght has graduated for the Lions – he is now at Portland State. Lucas Petersen was set to replace him – and did until last week when he broke his wrist during practice, and is out for the season. Now it is Sterling Somers’ turn to lead the high-powered offense. The Golden Eagles are still running the wing-T offense, and have a formidable backfield duo in tailback Joey Akers (110 carries, 825 yards, 12 TDs) and fullback Marcus Nightengale. Expecting a sellout, schools offered game tickets on a pre-sale basis this week.
TNT pick: Lynden, 31-23.