Charlie Hobbick wanted to be a part of a town that lived and breathed Kiona-Benton football.
After three years as Ki-Be head coach, and countless hours of reaching out to the community about his program, he's starting to see the fruits of his labor.
Not only are fans excited about Bears football and coming out to games in droves, the players are starting to share the responsibility of building the program.
"When I first got here I got involved with grid kids and a little bit at the middle school level so they could learn about what we were doing," Hobbick said.
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Last season, freshman running back Jacob Heinen made the decision to drop other sports and train exclusively for football.
"He just came to me and said, 'I want to be a football player,' " Hobbick said.
But Heinen isn't the only Kiona-Benton player to take his role seriously. The entire team has adopted an all-for-one mentality when it comes to creating a new attitude.
In the Bears' season opener Friday, that attitude showed in a 40-7 walloping of a solid Granger team that finished fourth in a very tough SCAC West division. "My offensive line (Alex Gonzales, Dakota Renz, Carl Robb, James Sachse and Pierce Williams) is just relentless. They finish every single block," Hobbick said. "They get down field and do all those little things you want from a high school football team but don't always get."
That line paved the way for Heinen and quarterback Anfernee Cortez, who combined for 420 rushing yards on 37 attempts, an average of 11.4 yards a carry.Hobbick said just about every member of the defense can bench press at least 250 pounds, a rarity especially at the lower classes.
Ki-Be's next test will be a big one at 7 p.m. Friday at Zillah, a team that has reached the 1A state playoffs in each of the last four seasons.
"They've always been a wishbone team, but this year they're running more of a power-I. They've got a quarterback who can throw a little," Hobbick said. "I think we'll be tested at the corner and safety positions. But inside, we're very strong and quick."
Tri-Cities Prep coach Dan Whitsett had a lot to be happy about Friday after a 42-6 home win over Liberty-Spangle.
One thing that had him grinning was Bailey Rivas' 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on the first play of the season.
"Special teams is something we wanted to emphasize, so we took a different approach in practice this year," Whitsett said. "You can't start the game any better. Here I was, anxious to see what our offense was like. I had to wait a little longer."
Whitsett went through a grueling summer of changing the Jaguars' offense from a spread to an option-based attack. If the first week is any indication, the move is a success.
Rivas and Evan Whitsett combined for 265 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 20 attempts, and Whitsett even added a 50-yard TD pass to Michael Forbes for good measure.
Another thing that thrilled Whitsett was his new freshman kicker, Hogan Jones, who drilled 6-of-6 extra points in his first varsity game.
"We didn't hit six PATs all last season," Whitsett said. "That's going to make a big difference."
Props to Othello for hammering out a 39-13 win over Connell on Friday, scoring the first five touchdowns in a nonleague romp -- its first against the Eagles since 2008 and Connell's biggest loss since Cashmere won 47-14 a year ago.
It was the Huskies third win -- second in the regular season -- against the Eagles since 2004.
"What pleased us most is that we were able to get a win versus a tremendous program. Connell has had our number the past couple of seasons," wrote Huskies coach Roger Hoell in an e-mail. "The players were jacked about the win -- especially our seniors. We have to keep it in perspective that it is not how we start the season, but how we finish the season."
Quarterback David Garza was 13-for-19 for 241 yards passing and four touchdowns in the win. For that big night, he was named the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's Class 2A athlete of the week Wednesday.
Friday's big games
Kiona-Benton at Zillah, 7 p.m. -- The Bears try to keep the Week 1 momentum going against the perennial power Leopards. Okanogan at Connell, 7 p.m. -- The defending 1A state champion Eagles will try to prove that their Week 1 loss to Othello was a fluke. Anything less than a strong bounce-back game against the Bulldogs may put Connell's SCAC East title defense in doubt.