Tanner Bolt, the reigning Class 2A state player of the year, will lead Prosser High School’s football team into Othello for a key CWAC game Friday night.
With a loss to Ellensburg in the rearview mirror for the Mustangs (7-1, 6-1), a victory would keep them alive for the CWAC’s No. 2 seed, meaning they would host a Great Northern League team for their playoff game.
Regardless of this week’s outcome, Othello will have a shot to win the league championship next week against Ellensburg, and Prosser likely will need a win against Selah — assuming the Vikings beat Toppenish on Friday — to secure a spot in the postseason.
Prosser coach Corey Ingvalson expects a tough game because of Othello’s playing style under coach Roger Hoell and the atmosphere at Huskie Stadium.
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“Roger Hoell is a Hall of Fame coach, so he’s going to be well prepared obviously, and he always throws in some wrinkles, and they’ll bring out some trick plays,” Ingvalson said. “They just have a way of controlling the game that really minimizes the number of possessions that you get, so you get really stressed out, feeling like you need to score on every offensive possession.
“On top of that, you add the bus ride, throw that all together, and it’s just always really tough to play Othello. You’ve gotta be ready.”
After the Mustangs’ Sept. 23 loss to Ellensburg, Bolt has done a nice job of rallying the team. The senior has thrown for 2,005 yards and 28 touchdowns with just four interceptions this season.
Senior wide receiver Michael Kernan has emerged as a dangerous pass catcher for the Mustangs, recording team highs in receptions (37), yards (600) and touchdowns (eight). He had three first-half scores last week against Wapato after missing Prosser’s Week 7 matchup against Ephrata because of an injury.
Senior Kolby Swift has been a difference maker on both sides of the ball for the Mustangs. He has been a capable runner and pass catcher as Prosser’s tailback — he began the season as an H-back but converted during the Ellensburg game — and has been a pass-rushing force from his hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end position.
Ingvalson called Swift one of the most physical players he has ever coached and said it would be difficult to overstate the impact he has had.
“He’s quite honestly getting in the realm of all-time great Mustangs as far as his playmaking ability,” Ingvalson said. “We’ve got some guys that have been on the coaching staff from like the 1980s to now, and for them to mention that he’s an all-timer, it means Kolby is held in really high regard. He’s playing really well.”
Prosser has not allowed a touchdown in its past three games.
With first-year starters at most positions, Ingvalson expected the regular season to be a grind for the Mustangs, but he said the team is starting to overcome its youth at the right time.
“We’re kind of backloaded on the schedule, with facing Othello this week and then Selah next week,” Ingvalson said. “But you want to be able to control your own destiny, control the stuff that’s in front of you, so we’re excited that we have the challenge in front of us and have an opportunity to respond and decide whether we’re going to be able to play in the postseason.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Othello.
AROUND THE MID-COLUMBIA CONFERENCE
CHIAWANA AT WALLA WALLA: Coming off their first loss of the season, the No. 8 Riverhawks (7-1, 5-1 MCC) will look to win their regular-season finale against the Blue Devils (3-5, 2-4) before heading to Spokane for a state play-in game.
Andrew Vargas, the MCC’s leading rusher with 2,028 yards and 33 touchdowns, fumbled three times in Chiawana’s 21-14 loss to Richland, and the Riverhawks turned it over six times in total.
Vargas was held to 5.5 yards on each of his 31 carries. He entered the game averaging 10.3 yards per crack.
The Blue Devils again struggled to find a source of offense other than quarterback Mitch Lesmeister in their 48-21 loss to Kamiakin last week. Wideout Isaiah Moss was Lesmeister’s favorite target, hauling in two passes for 81 yards.
HANFORD AT RICHLAND: The No. 2 Bombers (8-0, 6-0) are riding high into their crosstown rivalry game against the Falcons (4-4, 2-4) after knocking off Chiawana last week for the MCC championship.
In a game during which defense dominated for both teams, Richland wide receiver Josh Mendoza stood out with his eight-catch, 107-yard performance against Chiawana. His total included a 50-yard reception on the Bombers’ winning drive.
Hanford quarterback Garrett Horner threw for 363 yards and six touchdowns against Pasco last week, but the Falcons’ air attack could struggle against a Richland defense that is allowing 117.3 passing yards per game — second in the MCC — and leading the conference with 17 interceptions.
KENNEWICK AT PASCO: After giving Hanford a first-half scare last week, the Bulldogs (0-8, 0-6) will get one last shot at winning an MCC game this season against the Lions (2-6, 1-5).
Jose Farias had two of Pasco’s three first-half interceptions to lead the Bulldogs to an 11-point halftime advantage over the Falcons. Pasco eventually fell 49-23.
Kennewick needed an upset win over Southridge last week to keep its playoff hopes alive, and a 14-point advantage after 12 minutes — and then a seven-point lead entering the fourth quarter — looked as though it might do it. But the Lions ended up losing 31-21 after Suns quarterback Mason Martin engineered three fourth-quarter scoring drives, including two touchdown passes.
TRI-CITIES PREP AT KITTITAS: The Jaguars (7-1, 5-1) and Coyotes (6-1, 5-1) will battle for the No. 2 seed in the EWAC playoffs.
Kittitas lost its shot at competing for a conference title when it suffered its first loss of the season to league champ Dayton-Waitsburg last week. TCP suffered a similar fate in Week 4, falling to D-W 35-20.
Quarterback Gavin Baker had a hand in all four of Tri-Cities Prep’s touchdowns in its 28-8 win over Mabton last week, throwing two touchdown passes to Colin Dickson and running two in on his own.
Other local games include Grandview at Wapato, Royal at River View, Wahluke at Connell, Warden at Kiona-Benton, College Place at Columbia-Burbank, Touchet at St. John-Endicott, White Swan at DeSales, Dayton-Waitsburg at Liberty Christian (at Hanford High School) and Pendleton at Hermiston (all games at 7 p.m.).