Week 1 of the high school football season is here, and considering the abnormal oddity of the 2020 season, having prep football back in its rightful place on the first Friday of September is a welcome sight.
And if that’s not enough to get local football fans excited, the 2021 Twin Harbors football season is kicking off in grand fashion with one of the state’s most celebrated games — the Myrtle Street Rivalry.
Aberdeen at Hoquiam
When and Where: 7 p.m. Friday at Olympic Stadium
Players to watch: Aberdeen — Jeremy Sawyer, RB/LB; Drew Lock RB/DB; Andres Tyler, OL/DL; Toby Heggie, RB/LB. Hoquiam — Kohltan Philamalee, WR/LB; Nakota Brown, RB/LB; Siosi Villarreal, OL/DL.
Is there any better way to start the season on the Twin Harbors than revising one of the state’s longest-running football rivalries?
When the Hoquiam Grizzlies host the Aberdeen Bobcats on Friday, it will represent the 116th time the two teams have faced off in the famed Myrtle Street Rivalry and the first time they have played each other twice in the same calendar year.
Up until last season, Hoquiam had dominated Aberdeen in recent years. The Grizzlies ran off six straight victories over the Bobcats until the last game of the 2020 season, in which Aberdeen jumped out to a 24-0 lead en route to a 30-8 victory in the final game of the season on March 20.
Aberdeen may be in position to run off two in a row against their Grays Harbor County rivals as they return a young, but massive offensive line that should open holes in the Bobcats’ bread-and-butter running game.
The Bobcats also have veteran experience in its running-back corps, including senior Jeremy Sawyer, who torched the Grizzlies for 214 yards and three touchdowns last season.
Hoquiam, meanwhile, is coming off a 1-5 season and returns just three seniors to the lineup in Nakota Brown, Kohltan Philamalee and Siosi Villarreal.
Villarreal will lead a young offensive and defensive line, while Brown and Philamalee are expected to see time at running back and linebacker this season.
The Grizzlies will look to several underclassmen to round out the rest of the roster. But with players, such as sophomore WR/DB Zander Jump — who was named a 1A Evergreen First Team All-League baseball player in the spring — and 6-foot-4 freshman TE/FB/LB Chris Hauss on the roster, the Grizzlies could be full of surprises.
Whether those surprises are a bicycle on Christmas morning or snakes in a can remains to be seen.
Hudson’s Bay at Elma
When and Where: 7 p.m. Friday at Davis Field
Players to watch: Elma — René Duran, QB/DB; Conan Baxter, RB/LB; Donovan Bishop, OL/DL; Hudson’s Bay — Dean Castillo, QB; Qunicy Blocker, WR/OLB
Injuries had Elma bow out of the Montesano Jamboree — which was canceled five days later — but the Eagles are on track to open the season when they host Hudson’s Bay under the new LED lights at Davis Field on Friday.
The Eagles lost some key seniors off last year’s squad which finished an impressive 5-1 on the season, but possess multiple talented returning starters including quarterback René Duran and First Team All-League running back Conan Baxter.
Defensively, Elma will be led by First Team All-League linemen Donovan Bishop along with Honorable Mention all-leaguers in Jerred Bailey (LB) and Austin Salazar (DL).
Hudson’s Bay went 1-4 in the 2A Greater St. Helen’s League last season after going 2-7 the previous year.
The Eagles have some size at the skill positions, namely 6-foot-4 quarterback Dean Castillo and 6-foot-4 WR/OLB Quincy Blocker.
Look for Castillo, who “can really sling it” according to reports, to target receivers Dylan Damos and Blocker, the latter of whom is considered one of the top players in the 2A GSHL.
Raymond-South Bend at Wahkiakum
When and where: 7 p.m. Friday at Wahkiakum High School
The Raymond-South Bend Ravens open their first full season on the road when they take on the Wahkiakum Mules on Friday.
RSB will be led by starting senior quarterback Adrian Quintana and running back Deleak Hubbard, who will benefit from an experienced and senior-heavy offensive line considered by head coach Luke Abbott as “the biggest strength of this team.”
Defensively, the Ravens return eight starters, led by linebackers Kyle Strozyk and Ty Reidinger.
The Mules went 5-1 last season and are led by first-year head coach Ryan Lorenzo, who had his team begin practice at midnight on Aug. 18 — the first day practice was allowed by the WIAA — with members of the National Guard on hand to put the Mules through the ringer.
Ilwaco at Pe Ell-Willapa Valley
When and where: 7 p.m. Friday at Pe Ell High School
The Pe Ell-Willapa Valley Titans were one of the youngest teams in the 2B class in 2020. Another year older with some games under their belt, the Titans are looking to for improvement on a 1-4 record when they open the season against Ilwaco.
PWV will be led by senior quarterback Tyler Adkins and will benefit from the talents of Garrett Keeton, who will start on both offensive and defensive lines and is the best placekicker in the Twin Harbors entering the 2021 season.
Ilwaco finished 3-2 last season, including a loss to Raymond-South Bend and wins over North Beach and Ocosta.
The Bulldogs had planned on playing North Kitsap, the third-ranked team in 2A Class on Friday. But some positive COVID tests last week put the opening of the Montesano football season on hold.
While Montesano awaited the results of COVID tests among the players Monday morning, Aug. 30, North Kitsap had already found a fill-in opponent in Central Kitsap.
No further positive test results were reported for the Montesano program, allowing the Bulldogs to resume practice, but the damage had already been done.
As of Wedensday at noon, Montesano was still without a first-week opponent and likely will not be able to find one for Friday.
Montesano is scheduled to host Cascade Christian at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10.