Give Scott Biglin high marks for a sense of humor.
The Kamiakin football coach was asked this week what were the keys to beating the Chiawana Riverhawks when the two teams meet at 7 p.m. today at Edgar Brown Stadium in a key Mid-Columbia Conference football game.
“Can I give a (Steve) Graff response here?” said Biglin. “We need to score more points than them. He will get a kick out of that one.”
Pretty likely, since Graff — Chiawana’s coach — usually gives that as a pat answer himself.
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Tonight’s matchup feature’s two of the top teams in the conference. Both are 2-0 in MCC play. Both have 3-1 overall records.
Chiawana is the No. 2 offense in the MCC, and it has the top-ranked defense.
Kamiakin has the No. 3 offense, and the No. 2 defense. So this could be the game of the regular season.
Here are a couple things to look for in tonight’s contest:
WHEN CHIAWANA HAS THE BALL
“Handling their pressure defense is going to be key,” said Graff.
Biglin knows that Chiawana running back Austin Urlacher is a load to handle. The senior missed last week’s contest against Southridge, thanks to a bruised shin bone suffered during the Riverhawks’ 41-0 win over Richland. Even after missing a game, Urlacher leads the MCC in rushing yards with 65, with an average of 7.7 yards a carry.
“He runs extremely hard and is very patient behind their offensive line,” said Biglin. “I think the one kid that is really destined to break out is (wide receiver-defensive back) Dre Dorton. He has been really good so far, but he is a scary football player to play against. Fast and tough. We will definitely have to contain him.
“We need to tackle as a team and fight hard against their offensive line. They are really good, so our defensive line and linebackers need to fight hard to beat the blocks.”
Which is why Graff believes the biggest matchup of the game will be the trenches.
“It’s going to be our offensive line versus their defensive front 7,” said Graff.
Linebackers Tyler Herman and Dalton Tuveson lead the Braves defense.
WHEN KAMIAKIN HAS THE BALL
Chiawana’s defensive unit has been devastating so far.
Southridge coach Tony Reiboldt called Chiawana’s front defensive seven the best he’s seen so far this season.
Even Graff, not one for effusive praise, likes what he sees and smiles when anyone mentions the Riverhawks defense.
“Our defensive line has played well the last couple of weeks,” Graff said.
But it’s not just the front seven.
“They are very skilled at the defensive back spot,” said Biglin. “I really like the way they fly around out there.”
And Biglin needs his offense to be successful from the start.
“Offensively, we need to be good on first down,” Biglin said. “Second and long against Chiawana is very difficult to overcome.”
The last two weeks, Chiawana has pitched two shutouts — 41-0 over Richland, and 40-0 over Southridge.
Kamiakin might offer the Riverhawks a different challenge.
“We’re concerned about their quarterback (Tyson Patten), running back (T.J. Faumaasili) and big plays by their offense,” said Graff.
Patten is ranked second in MCC passing efficiency rating at 125.1. Only Pasco’s Kolby Killoy (147.4) is better.
But it’s Faamausili who has opened some eyes in this early part of the season. The transfer from Pasco High is ranked fourth in the conference in rushing withy 410 yards, averaging 8.2 yards a carry.
“T.J. has been our best surprise,” said Biglin. “I shouldn’t say surprised because he has worked hard in the weight room, so his physical side is there. The place that we have been impressed with is his ability to read a hole, and then kick it into second gear with his speed. We honestly had no idea he was that fast.”
Here are a few other things to keep an eye on tonight:
1. Bombers and Blue Devils. Richland won its first game of the season last week, beating Hanford to go 1-1 in MCC play and 1-3 overall.
Walla Walla pounded an upstart Pasco squad that had won two consecutive games before last Friday’s game. The Blue Devils are 2-0 in MCC play, and 2-2 overall.
This contest, which kicks off at 7 p.m. at Borleske Stadium, will give one team an inside track to the second 4A postseason berth.
Quarterback Taylor O’Toole (700 yards passing) and Josh Phillips (472 yards rushing) lead the Bombers on offense, but receiver Griffey March leads the MCC in receiving with 31 catches for 333 yards.
Wa-Hi is paced by QB Trever Coronado (487 yards passing).
2. Lions and Bulldogs. One of the oldest rivalries in the region, Pasco (1-1 MCC, 2-2 overall) needs a good game from its offense, which ranks No. 1 in the conference. Killoy is the top QB so far, with 883 yards passing, and 12 TDs against just three interceptions. Eric Orange is second in receiving with 23 catches for 307 yards.
Kennewick (0-2, 1-3) is led by running back Dwight Norwood, who is third in MCC rushing at 442. But the Lions need to hang on to the football. Last week against Kamiakin, Kennewick turned the ball over four times.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Lampson Stadium.
3. Suns and Falcons. Someone will get their first victory tonight when these two teams meet at 7 at Fran Rish Stadium, as both teams are 0-2 in MCC play and 0-4 overall.
Southridge has struggled offensively, and ranks last in that category. But Hanford ranks last in MCC defense.
The Falcons offense has shown that even in its losses, it can put points on the board.
Hanford quarterback Desmond Samples has passed for 469 yards and rushed for another 409.
4. Small-school, Oregon game highlights.
Unbeaten Hermiston (4-0) travels to Idaho powerhouse Coeur d’Alene tonight in a key interstate showdown. This could show everyone how good the Bulldogs are. ... River View travels to Connell (7 p.m.) in a key SCAC East game. The Panthers (1-0 SCAC, 3-1 overall) are led by QB Ruvim Tyutyunnik, and Connell (1-1, 1-3) finally picked up its first victory last Friday, beating Wahluke 27-12. ... A big contest is at Hanford High at 7 tonight, where Liberty Christian (3-0 Southeast 1B, 4-0 overall) plays host to Garfield-Palouse (2-1, 3-1). Gar-Pal QB Hunter Woltering passed for 256 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 42-28 loss to powerhouse Touchet. John Lesser continues to dominate with his arms and legs at quarterback for the Patriots.