This weekend marks the second half of high school football’s regular season, so let’s take a look at the first-half highlights of the Mid-Columbia region:
BEST TEAM: Has to be Chiawana, although I would pay good money to see a Chiawana-Prosser contest. The Riverhawks lost their opener 16-14 on the road to Camas, but they’ve been lights-out since.
Prosser, meanwhile, is 5-0 and has dominated the CWAC, earning three shutouts in four games.
BIGGEST SURPRISE: We’re going with Pasco, although I’m sure this is no surprise to the Bulldogs’ seniors. Pasco beat Sunnyside on the road in Week 2 to snap a 21-game losing streak. Then the Bulldogs ran roughshod over Hanford in Week 3 for a two-game winning streak.
Pasco has lost two in a row since then, but players such as Kolby Killoy, Cole Kelley, Eric Orange, Kendall Lee and Spencer Calveard have supplied plenty of highlights for its top-rated offense.
SMARTEST MOVE: Has to be Liberty Christian’s Mike Olson, who moved John Lesser from running back to quarterback this fall. Now Lesser can either pass or run, and 8-man defenses can’t stop him either way.
BEST MOMENT OF THE SEASON: Has to be other schools’ response to Chiawana junior Mac Graff’s tragic hunting accident, in which he fell out of a blind and broke his back. While Mac, the son of Chiawana coach Steve Graff, rehabs at St. Luke’s hospital in Spokane, rival schools have been raising money to help with his medical bills. Football programs around the state have purchased “GraffStrong” T-shirts at $10 each, had their players put them on, taken pictures and sent them to Chiawana. Fans from other schools have donated money to the cause.
It has brought to the forefront a reminder that football itself is still just a game.
TOP QUARTERBACK: Killoy has shown plenty of brilliance at the QB spot. So has Walla Walla’s Trever Coronado. But Hermiston’s Chase Knutz has shown the most so far this season.
DEFENSIVE LEADER: Chiawana lost Alex Weber to graduation last spring, as the linebacker headed to Penn for college. But in stepped Weber’s little brother, Caleb. The sophomore linebacker leads the Riverhawks in tackles so far.
MVP: So far, a no-brainer. Austin Urlacher of Chiawana missed one game because of a bruised shin. Yet the senior running back still almost has 1,000 rushing yards (he’s at 954) in those other four contests. He has rushed for at least 200 yards in three games. Last week, he had 303 against Kamiakin — where he broke 20 tackles. He is averaging 8.8 yards a carry and has 11 touchdowns.
BEST FINISH TO A GAME: Has to be last Friday’s Southridge at Hanford contest. Suns quarterback Conner Grigg fired up a Hail Mary pass as time expired, and Andrew Stayrook caught the 38-yard throw for the 41-38 victory over the Falcons.
SETBACK, COMEBACK: Walla Walla and Connell. The Blue Devils opened the season with two nonleague losses, then bounced back with three MCC victories — led mostly by a stout defense. Connell opened the season with three losses, including being blown out by SCAC East rival Royal. But wins over Wahluke and River View these past two weeks have saved the season, putting the Eagles in a good spot for a playoff berth.