KENNEWICK -- It took four weeks, but the 2011 CBBN football season finally got to its first "game of the year."
Tonight's 7:30 matchup at Lampson Stadium between the No. 10 Kennewick Lions and No. 5 Kamiakin Braves will pit arguably the CBBN's two most dominant teams to start the season.
The Braves and Lions both come into the game at 3-0 overall, 1-0 in CBBN 3A play. Both have rolled over their opponents: Kennewick by a combined 128-6 and Kamiakin 120-47.
Both teams have put up big numbers on offense (the No. 3 point total in the league is Sunnyside with 88). But both might be more impressive on defense.
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"They're fast, and they're really well coached. Their blitzes are pretty unique to what I've seen," said Kennewick quarterback Bryce Leavitt, who figures to come under some pressure. "We have a great offensive line, and they're prepared to take on the challenge of Kamiakin. But once in a while something happens, and I'm prepared to make a play.
"I used to be the scout team quarterback, and I would have to scramble a lot."
Leavitt and his Kamiakin counterpart, Jason Hutchison, have been incredibly effective considering they are first-year starting QBs. Hutchison is second in the league in passing yards (683) with a league-high 10 TD throws against two interceptions. His 231.5 efficiency rating is second only to Leavitt's 256.4.
Leavitt throws about half as often, but his 70 percent completion rate is tops, and he has six TDs vs. one pick.
The success for both QBs, Kennewick coach Bill Templeton said, boils down to great protection from the offensive line and an effective running game.
"It tires down the defense a little bit, slows down the pass rush," Templeton said. "When you run the ball, the play-action stuff pulls the defensive backs out of position a little bit."
Kamiakin's hammer has been Zach Umemoto, a punishing linebacker who plays the same way running the ball. His 424 yards rushing is second in the league, but he'll be facing a defense that has allowed less than 60 yards a game on the ground.
On the other side is Kennewick's Grant Woods, who has no trouble running up the middle but is most effective on the stretch play getting the corner. His 280 yards rushing are fourth in the league, but no one comes close to his 11.2-yard average per carry, and his six TDs are tops as well.
Both teams come into the game with a lot of confidence, one of the many things that stand out in film study.
"They got a lot of speed, and they're very athletic," Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. "And their guys have a lot of confidence. Even in the first game against Pendleton, they were going through the motions, and then in the second quarter you get that swagger a little bit. They're playing lights out now.
"It's the kind of game you want to play. You want to play a game that's not boring. It's been a fun week."
So what will be the decider in this expected thriller? Well, pretty much the same thing as every other week.
"The team that doesn't turn the ball over, that doesn't allow a lot of big plays probably is going to be the team that comes out with the victory," Templeton said, quoting chapter and verse from Coaching 101.
Of course, there are plenty of other big games around the CBBN tonight:
Richland (3-0, 1-0) at Davis (3-0, 1-0)
YAKIMA -- The other matchup of unbeaten teams pits the Pirates' No. 1 offense against the Bombers' No. 1 defense.
QB Deion Wright hasn't done much wrong, completing 62 percent of his throws for 940 yards and nine TDs against just one pick. He's also rushed for 164 yards and two TDs and leads the CBBN in total offense by nearly 300 yards. Receiver Cooper Kupp is a threat receiving as well as running.
The Bombers have a nice passing game of their own with Colter Quick (539 yards, 8 TDs, 3 INTs) to complement the running of Cameron Simpson (224 yards, 7.0 per carry) and B.K. Robinson (181, 7.0), who missed last week's win over Evergreen of Vancouver.
Walla Walla (0-3, 0-1) at Chiawana (3-0, 1-0)
PASCO -- Edgar Brown Stadium is about the last place to try to get back on track when the Riverhawks are lining up on the other side of the field.
The Blue Devils are last in the league in scoring defense (36 points a game) and second from the bottom in offense (20).
They'll face a Chiawana passing game that's been getting better by the week. Oh, and the league's rushing leader, Jordan Downing, who has pounded away on defenses for 532 yards and six touchdowns.
Moses Lake (0-3, 0-1) at Wenatchee (1-0, 3-0)
Similar to Wa-Hi, the Chiefs are last in offense and second from the bottom in defense. That makes the Apple Bowl a stiff venue.
Wenatchee has good balance on offense, and running back Spencer Smith (301 yards) averages 12.5 yards per carry.
Pasco (0-3, 0-1) at Hanford (1-2, 1-0)
RICHLAND -- The Bulldogs have played about as tough a schedule as you can ask, with their three opponents a combined 9-0. The Falcons were on the same track until beating a struggling West Valley squad last week.
Both teams have struggled offensively, but Hanford's defense is allowing about 100 fewer yards and 14 fewer points a game.
Pasco's T.J. Avery is third in the league in passing yards (427), but his 43 percent completion rate is sixth among regular starters. However, the Bulldogs are averaging just 43 yards on the ground, putting a lot on their inexperienced QB's shoulders.
Hanford, meanwhile, has struggled to throw but has gotten reliable play from running back Jalen DeVine, whose 404 yards is third in the CBBN 3A and 521 all-purpose yards ranks second.
Southridge (2-1, 1-0) at Eastmont (0-3, 0-1)
EAST WENATCHEE -- Coming off a comeback win over Sunnyside, the Suns are looking to break out the offense against the CBBN 3A's worst defense (458 yards and 45 points a game).
Matt Mendenhall is tops in the league in passing (700 yards, 7 TDs), Chris Haueter No. 1 in rushing (471 yards, 620 all-purpose) and three receivers among the tops in catches and yards.
West Valley (1-3, 0-1) at Sunnyside (1-2, 0-1)
The Grizzlies hope to get do-everything back Steven Monterrey back from a knee injury, but QB Eduardo Salmeron and dive back Ramon Hernandez more than carried their weight last week.