Week 3 of the Mid-Columbia Conference football season could be titled: This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land.
Two sets of neighbors will tussle over turf rights tonight, with Southridge and Kamiakin squaring off at Lampson Stadium (Kamiakin listed as home team) and Pasco and Chiawana battling at Edgar Brown (Chiawana home).
However, beyond the obvious territorial disputes, the two games have vastly different meanings.
For the Suns and Braves, it is a battle for the top of the league standings.
It has taken just three weeks to leave Southridge (3-0) as the only overall unbeaten in the league, including a 2-0 record in Mid-Col games. Kamiakin comes in 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the league.
Both teams have known plenty of close calls. Southridge has won its three games by a combined seven points, including last week’s 16-15 thriller over another Lampson rival, Kennewick.
Kamiakin is coming off a 25-19 win over Sunnyside that required a Hail Mary pass with 5 seconds left.
And that is precisely the matchup that sparks great interest: Kamiakin’s league-leading passing game against Southridge’s No. 1 defense.
Braves QB Kylle Robertson has thrown for 738 yards, nearly twice as much as the next passer. Big-play receivers K Perrins (17-307, 5 TDs) and Javan Williams (12-239, 3 TDs) are 1-2 in the MCC in receiving.
Meanwhile, the Suns have given up just 290 yards passing in three games (and just 628 total), and they have yet to allow a team more than 119 yards passing in a game.
Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt gives credit to his entire defense, and his Kamiakin counterpart agrees.
“Reiboldt, I coached with him three or four years at Southridge, and he knows his stuff,” Braves coach Scott Biglin said. “He’s got those guys believing.”
But don’t overlook Southridge’s offense. The Suns are near the bottom in total yards (207 per game), but running back Kadin Diaz (61-363, 6.0 ypc, 3 TD) is a load. This is a physical Southridge team that takes a lot of pride winning the battle up front.
While the battle at Lampson will be to decide the league leader as the Mid-Col nears mid-season, Edgar Brown will be the site of two teams desperate for a win.
Pasco and Chiawana have started 0-3, though the Riverhawks’ losses all came in league games while the Bulldogs are 0-1 in the MCC.
The interesting matchup in this game will be Chiawana’s last-place offense (203.7 ypg) against Pasco’s last-place defense (364.0 ypg).
Bulldogs running back and linebacker Luis Murillo is putting together an MVP-like season with his play on defense and 468 all-purpose yards, tied for fourth in the league.
Hanford (2-1, 2-1) at Walla Walla (0-1, 2-1): The Falcons are one of the toughest teams in the league against the run, and they’ll have to be at their best taking on Wa-Hi back Jonah Hoe on his home turf.
Hoe’s 558 yards and seven TDs are well in front of the rest of the league, as are the Blue Devils’ 844 yards rushing overall.
Hanford is giving up just 115 a contest on the ground, bolstered by that terrific defensive line. Conversely, the Falcons will need a big game from their big gainer, Jalen DeVine, second in rushing with 478 yards and a whopping 7.1 average per carry.
Kennewick (1-1-1) at Sunnyside (1-2): It is the Lions’ turn to play the “nonleague but might count for playoff” game with the Grizzlies.
Sunnyside has made both Southridge and Kamiakin sweat in the last two weeks. This would be a good game for Kennewick to squeeze in a little more of a passing game that averages 100 yards per contest, and take a little pressure off running back Devven Ramos (70-373, 1 TD) and ground game.