High school football is back. Fourteen South Sound teams begin the 2013 season Friday night, while North Thurston, a 3A state quarterfinalist a year ago, will wait one more day before its season opener at home Saturday against Steilacoom.
While those teams are primarily staying local, a few teams will head north and south. W.F. West travels 145 miles northwest to Port Angeles, while Olympia travels 125 miles south to Lake Oswego, Ore., a suburb of Portland, to face a Class 6A (equivalent to Washington’s Class 4A) Lakers team that’s become one of the elite programs in the state.
Coached by Steve Coury, an Oregon State wide receiver in the late 1970s, this will be Lake Oswego’s second game of the season; in Week 1, Jesuit, another top program in Oregon, beat the Lakers, 28-21. Here’s a look at three area games to see in the season-opening week of high school football:
Timberline (0-0) at River Ridge (0-0), 7 p.m. Friday, South Sound Stadium
The Blazers have owned the series against the Hawks dating back to the teams’ first meeting in 1993, the year River Ridge opened. Timberline holds a 15-2 advantage, including an 11-game winning streak over the Hawks, whose wins over Timberline came in 1997 and 1998. The Hawks graduated playmaker Brad Wallace, but sophomore DB Chris Leiba is a highlight film waiting to happen. Timberline QB Gabe Gutierrez, upward of 20 pounds heavier, will take his first snaps since breaking his arm in Week 7 last year against Mount Tahoma. Asan Neil-Evergin, who already has a scholarship offer from Eastern Washington, will be one of the most athletic players on the field, starring on offense, defense, and special teams.
Shelton (0-0) at Tumwater (0-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Tumwater District Stadium
After graduating two UW-bound players (TE David Ajamu, RB Ralph Kinne), eyes will be on who will carry the Highclimbers’ offense after the team took apart Tumwater in Week 1 a year ago, 42-21, which was Tumwater’s only loss until the 2A state title game. All Shelton had to do was hand off to Kinne (2,389 yards, 30 TDs), and now, it’s Jake Henry’s turn. Tumwater’s Sid Otton, the state’s all-time winningest coach whose 346 career wins also top 34 other states, begins his 40th year at Tumwater, while Matt Hinkle, who played for Otton in the late 1970s, starts his 20th with the Highclimbers. Jayden Croft, Otton’s grandson, starts his second year as starting QB after completing 51 percent of his passes, as does defensive lineman Nick Foerstel, who had a team-best seven sacks.
Newport (0-0) at Capital (0-0), 7 p.m. Friday, Ingersoll Stadium
An intriguing 4A-against-2A matchup starts the season. For Capital, it’s the first of three straight against 4A opponents. The tandem of Conner Kennedy and Ryan Rieta (rushed for a combined 1,102 yards in 2012) will get the bulk of carries as first-string running backs in the Cougars’ new wing-T offense. Newport, however, has its own star tailback in Connor Baumann (1,338 yards, 14 TDs), back from a team that made the first round of the 4A state playoffs. The Knights are transitioning from its dual-threat quarterback and four-year starter, Isaac Dotson, now at WSU. The Knights' biggest lineman is Calvin Throckmorten, 6-feet-6, 260 pounds.
-- Meg Wochnick, staff writer
WEEK 1 FOOTBALL GAMES
NL = nonleagueOlympia at Lake Oswego (Ore.) (NL)
Highline at Yelm (NL)
Shelton at Tumwater (NL)
River Ridge at Timberline (NL)
Newport at Capital (NL)
Hoquiam at Centralia (NL)
Black Hills at Clover Park (NL)
WF West at Port Angeles (NL)
Naselle at Rainier (NL)
Raymond at Tenino (NL)
Rochester at Ridgefield (NL)
Elma at Hockinson (NL)
Steilacoom at North Thurston (NL)