Regardless of this week’s outcomes, Kamiakin and Southridge will play for the Mid-Columbia Conference Class 3A crown next week. But Kennewick has a shot to keep its slim playoff hopes alive on Friday against the Suns.
The Lions (2-5, 1-4) are holding on to an outside chance of overtaking the Suns (4-3, 3-2) in their final two games. They need to win both — they play at Pasco in the regular-season finale — and have Southridge lose to Kamiakin. That would allow Kennewick to sneak into the No. 2 MCC 3A spot and play a meaningful football game after Week 9.
Kennewick running back Isaac Ruiz said the pressure of a must-win game, coupled with the rivalry matchup, has made for an electric week of practice.
“It goes through our minds the whole week at practice,” Ruiz said. “That’s kind of given us a purpose for playing,”
Southridge’s offense exploded for 543 yards in its 56-28 win over Hanford last week, with quarterback Mason Martin and running back Zayid Al-Ghani combining for 314 rushing yards. Kennewick coach Bill Templeton said the whole defense will have to step up to avoid getting run over by the Suns’ option-heavy offense.
“First of all, they have some really good players, and their scheme is really good,” Templeton said. “They kind of look the same way Kennewick did back in the ’80s with a lot of option game. They do what they do, and their kids do a good job of running it.”
Regardless of schemes and skill position talent, Templeton said the game’s deciding factor is no mystery.
“Anytime the offensive and defensive line is taken care of, you have a much better shot,” Templeton said. “So we’re going to put that on our kids to take care of that.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Lampson Stadium.
Around the MCC
RICHLAND AT CHIAWANA: This one is for all the marbles in the MCC Class 4A division.
The No. 2 Bombers and No. 4 Riverhawks both roll into this game at Edgar Brown Stadium undefeated through seven weeks. Chiawana has steamrolled everyone in its path, winning each of its games by at least 22 points, while Richland has been in some tight contests in conference play. The Bombers beat Southridge 26-10 in Week 4 and outlasted Kamiakin 21-20 in overtime in Week 6.
The Riverhawks defense has given up seven points and allowed an average of 52.7 yards per game over the past three weeks. They lead the conference in both of those totals on the season.
PASCO AT HANFORD: Hanford quarterback Garrett Horner’s four interceptions are the fewest in the conference among passers with more than 100 attempts, a stat that fits along nicely with the sophomore’s 19 touchdown passes and 61.5 completion percentage.
He and his favorite target Joe Gauthier — who leads the league in receiving yards with 632 — will look to keep their dynamic offense flying high when the Falcons (3-4, 1-4) take on the Bulldogs (0-7, 0-5) at Fran Rish Stadium.
DAYTON-WAITSBURG AT KITTITAS: If D-W (5-1, 4-0) wins this matchup of teams on top of the EWAC, it will clinch the league championship. A victory for the Coyotes (5-0, 4-0) will make their game against Tri-Cities Prep next week be for the conference title, assuming the Jaguars win at home against Mabton on Friday.
Other local matchups include Ephrata at Grandview, Wapato at Prosser, Quincy at Othello, River View at Warden, Connell at College Place, Kiona-Benton at Wahluke, Columbia-Burbank at Royal, Garfield-Palouse at Touchet, Lyle-Wishram at DeSales, Liberty Christian at White Swan, Hermiston at Redmond.
Walla Walla traveled to play Kamiakin on Thursday in MCC action.