Week 3 of the prep football season brings with it three Mid-Columbia Conference contests, a nonleague matchup with playoff implications and a meeting of former league foes.
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup is tonight at Lampson Stadium (all kickoffs at 7 p.m.) between city rivals Southridge and Kennewick.
The Suns (2-0, 1-0 MCC) are coming off a pair of thrilling wins by a combined six points, while the Lions (1-0-1, 1-0) are fresh off a convincing 23-7 win over Chiawana.
“Kennewick is big and physical. They do what they do, and they do it well,” Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt said. “We’re focusing on ourselves, and defensively, we have to stop the run. The Ramos kid went off last week against a tough Chiawana team.”
Devven Ramos ran for 169 yards and a touchdown last week and is averaging 5.8 yards a carry for the Lions, who are averaging more than 190 yards a game on the ground.
However, the Suns defense is tops in the Mid-Col, giving up fewer than 200 yards a game and a minuscule 3.63 yards a play.
“They’re disciplined, and they’re aggressive,” Lions coach Bill Templeton said. “They’ve got ’em coming hard, and to move the ball, we really have to be on point and execute.”
But whereas Kennewick is No. 2 in the league on defense -- even missing DL Robby Calvert (broken ankle) -- Southridge is near the bottom on offense. A big part of that is the passing game. Grant Lathim has completed just 14 of 43 throws (33 percent), albeit while taking a lot of hits from pass rushers.
The big question for the Suns is whether they can play toe-to-toe in the trenches against Kennewick, which over the last two years has become one of the most physical teams in the Tri-Cities.
“No doubt, we’re undersized and underdogs, specifically from a defensive standpoint,” Reiboldt said. “We went up against a big and physical team in Richland, and the same last week in Sunnyside. The kids rose up to the challenge in both those games.”
Chiawana (0-2, 0-2) at Richland (1-1, 1-1): A Riverhawks team that figured to be one of the best against the run is last in the league, allowing 521 yards rushing in its first two games.
Now the Hawks face a Richland team that found its offensive identity last week, a nice mix of ground (Josh Phillips, 179 yards and two TDs) and air (Zach Whitby, 15-for-29 passing for 186 yards and two TDs).
Meanwhile, Chiawana is last in the league in offense, averaging 168.5 yards a game with just 135 yards rushing. Also, it is staring an 0-3 start in the face -- the Riverhawks started 1-2 in 2009, their first season on a team with no seniors.
Hanford (1-1, 1-1) at Pasco (0-2, 0-0): The Bulldogs finally get to stay in town after going to Yakima and East Wenatchee the last two weeks.
Despite scoring just six points so far, Pasco is finding success with the ground game and has more total yards (468) than Richland (451) or Southridge (382), which have scored 33 and 34 points. Luis Murillo is coming up big at linebacker and running back (262 yards, 6.4 avg).
“I see a team that’s playing hard for coach (Dustin) Lamb,” Hanford coach Rob Oram said. “Against Eastmont, they must have averaged 10 yards a carry (7.2, 36-258 rushing). Big gains, it was unbelievable. They were just chunking yardage. Those offensive linemen are physical.”
Of course, the big question for the Falcons is how physical will they be in return. Two-way lineman Joe Douglas, who missed last week’s game against Kamiakin because of a knee injury, is expected to return “on a limited basis,” Oram said. Offensive tackle Will Ramos is a week away from coming back from knee surgery.
Also, expect the Falcons to shore things up with their outside coverage after the Braves’ two wideouts racked up 239 yards and four TDs last week.
“We just need to execute our coverage scheme better, and we need to understand our assignments on the offensive line,” Oram said. “We need to play better.”
Kamiakin at Sunnyside (NL): No doubt the Grizzlies are none too pleased after outgaining Southridge 3-to-1 last week and limiting the Suns to 13 percent completions.
The news doesn’t get any better today as K Perrins comes to town, off to a fast start with 287 receiving yards, five touchdowns and a 19.1 yards-per-catch average. Kamiakin’s No. 2 receiver, Javan Williams, also has big numbers: 163-2-23.3.
Kylle Robertson is almost at 52 percent completions, with a ridiculous QB rating of 178.3 with seven TDs and one pick.
Sunnyside QB Eduardo Salmeron (152 yards rushing, 244 passing) must be at his slippery best, or the Grizzlies will find themselves in a big hole early.
Walla Walla at Davis (NL): The Pirates are last in offense in the Big Nine and have allowed 439.5 yards a game on defense, including 636 yards rushing in two games.
That could spell a big night for Jonah Hoe, who is second in the Mid-Col with 282 yards rushing and leads with 366 all-purpose yards. Wa-Hi hasn’t hurt for offense so far, averaging 363.5 a game, second only to Kamiakin.
w Kevin Anthony: 582-1403; email@example.com