Football: Royal's Allred in lead of best coach poll

October 2, 2013 

It may seem like the big battle in SCAC East football is taking place this Friday in Finley with the No. 7 Royal Knights coming to town to take on the No. 4 River View Panthers.

But virtually speaking, the real fight is going on in cyberspace pitting a couple of familiar coaches. And folks, it’s a landslide.

Royal’s Wiley Allred and Connell’s Wayne Riner both made the list of eight finalists for USA Today’s Best High School Football Coach Contest.

The online competition (http://contest.usatodayhss.com/) will name the nation’s “best” coach through a series of state, regional and national votes.

The state voting started Monday and ends this Tuesday. Already, nearly 20,000 votes have been cast in Washington, and the results are astounding.

Allred, coaching in a community of less than 4,000 folks counting the surrounding area, had a whopping 15,302 votes as of Wednesday evening.

Not only does that put him far out in front in the state with 78 percent of the vote, but Allred is one of the top vote-getters in the nation. Riner is third in the state with 773 votes, trailing Bob Ames of Meridian (3,294). Interestingly, Bellevue’s Butch Goncharoff had just 46 votes Wednesday (0.235 percent), and all he has done is win the last five Class 3A state titles and 10 of the last 12.

“Royal is a little more competitive than they let on sometimes,” Allred said, appreciating the humor in the whole thing. “Honestly, I’d say the real honor is to be nominated with that group. The voting ...”

A quick check among some of the big football states — Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, New York — showed that only Mike Herrington of Hart High in Newhall, Calif., had more votes with 17,211. Oregon’s leader is Greg Lawrence of Sherwood with 8,375 votes (53 percent).

Those numbers would seem to indicate that it is not out of the realm of possibility that Allred could win this thing and collect the $2,000 first prize for the school’s athletic department.

Allred certainly has the football cred to rate as one of the state’s best — a career 161-21 record in 15-plus seasons at Royal, with four state titles and two more runner-up finishes.

But still, coming from little ol’ Royal, how do you explain all those votes? The same way you explain why Royal football contends for state titles — community support.

“We just spread the word,” said Rick Follett, assistant principal and athletic director at Royal.

The contest is the lead item on the school’s website, and it’s the talk of the town.

“I go into the local store,” Allred said, “and the owner goes, ‘Hey, if the president wins the election, do you think his campaign manager gets paid?’ And I said, ‘Yeah. What are you talking about?’ And he says, ‘I can win this thing for you.’ ”

Said Follett: I think it’s a great honor for him. Us here, we all know and love him and think he does a great job with the kids, him and his whole staff. It’s just a great honor.”

It’s pure politics straight out of old Chicago — vote early and vote often. Voters can click multiple times and stuff the virtual ballot box.

Follett admitted to voting “a couple of times.” Allred also has voted.

“Once,” he emphasized.

For whom?

“I’m not spilling that,” he said, breaking into laughter again. “It might not be me, and people around here, they would kill me if I voted for someone else.”

Elsewhere: Friday is a busy one around the SCAC East, with Kiona-Benton playing at Connell and Warden traveling to Wahluke. Columbia (Burbank) hosts Goldendale in a nonleague game.

Wahluke’s 10-8 win over Ki-Be last Friday was the Warriors’ first league win since 2011 and just their third in the last four seasons.

In the CWAC, Othello entertains Ephrata, Grandview is at Selah and Prosser travels to Ellensburg in a matchup of the last two unbeaten teams in league.

No. 5 Ellensburg has yet to be tested this season, crushing its first four opponents by a combined 178-20, including two shutouts. The Mustangs, ranked No. 7, have played stiffer competition. They lost their opener 42-14 to Kamiakin (ranked seventh in Class 3A) and beat Othello 27-16 two weeks ago.

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