Three high school football games to watch this week in Thurston County and beyond.
CAPITAL COUGARS (5-1) VS. TIMBERLINE BLAZERS (4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, South Sound Stadium, Lacey
About the Cougars: A bounce-back win over Gig Harbor last week has Capital right back in the conversation in the 3A SSC race. A two-possession loss to Yelm two weeks ago was the Cougars’ first of the season, but the win over the Tides has them in a three-way tie for second place with the Tornados and this week’s opponent — two-time defending league champion Timberline. WR/DB Chris Penner (23 catches, 571 yards, eight TDs) leads the 3A SSC in receiving yards and TDs, and is tied for the league lead in interceptions (three).
About the Blazers: Timberline is in somewhat unfamiliar territory with three weeks to play in the regular season. For the first time since the 3A SSC was created, the Blazers are chasing down a first-place team after losing to Peninsula in overtime. Timberline shut out Shelton last week to remain one game back but needs a win over the Cougars — and a Seahawks loss — to keep a third consecutive title in reach. QB Hunter Campau (69 of 105, 871 yards; 111 carries, 710 yards; 19 total TDs) continues to star for the Blazers as a dual-threat, and leads the league in total offense.
Olympian pick: Timberline, 27-21
NO. 7 PENINSULA SEAHAWKS (5-1) VS. YELM TORNADOS (4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, Yelm High School
About the Seahawks: Peninsula is the only remaining undefeated team in 3A SSC play, and has firm control of the league after upending two-time defending champion Timberline two weeks ago. The Seahawks haven’t lost since being shut out by defending state champion O’Dea in their season opener, and are averaging 31.8 points per game. QB Burke Griffin (63 of 88, 815 yards; 71 carries, 469 yards; 12 total TDs) leads the Seahakws in passing and rushing.
About the Tornados: Yelm leads the 3A SSC in scoring, averaging 32 points per game, and has the league’s leading passer in QB Kyle Robinson (73 of 136, 1,225 yards, 11 TDs) and two of the league’s top three receivers in Kodee Gifford (29 catches, 562 yards, seven TDs) and Austen Osso (26 catches, 526 yards, four TDs). The Tornados also have one of the league’s top defensive players in LB Derrick Platt (93 tackles, 16 for losses, eight sacks), who leads the 3A SSC in all three categories.
Olympian pick: Peninsula, 28-24
W.F. WEST BEARCATS (3-3) VS. NO. 2 TUMWATER T-BIRDS (6-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Tumwater District Stadium
About the Bearcats: With three regular season games to play, the Bearcats — a traditional power in the 2A EvCo — sit in a tie for third with Aberdeen behind undefeated Tumwater and Black Hills. The Bearcats snapped a two-game losing streak — including a 25-17 loss to the Wolves — with a 41-0 shutout of Rochester last week. Lafe Johnson had three rushing touchdowns, Jaiyden Camoza ran for two more and the Bearcats racked up 305 yards of offense.
About the T-Birds: A win for Tumwater this week would likely set up a battle of undefeated teams in next week’s annual Pioneer Bowl clash against crosstown rival Black Hills. The T-Birds haven’t lost a league game since 2009 — against W.F. West — and have ripped through six opponents this season. Tumwater is averaging 44.7 points per game, while allowing just 8.3, and has yet to give up a touchdown in league play.
Olympian pick: Tumwater, 38-14