The talk this week has been about the rise of Pasco High football.
The Bulldogs are off to a 3-1 start, their best in over a decade, and their 16-14 win over Richland last Friday shook up the Mid-Columbia Conference standings.
Pasco Coach Leon Wright-Jackson has some outstanding juniors who have led this team, starting with wide receiver Des Licon and quarterback Armani Reyes.
It was Licon’s 68-yard free kick return (following a safety) for a touchdown that clinched the Pasco victory.
So as we step into Week 5 – the halfway point – of the prep football season, we see Pasco tied with crosstown rival Chiawana atop the MCC standings. Each are 3-0 in MCC play, and 3-1 overall.
And both Pasco schools have major contests scheduled Friday.
Here’s a look at those contests, and all others in the region:
1. Pasco (3-0 MCC, 3-1 overall) at Kamiakin (2-1, 3-1), 7 p.m., Friday, Lampson Stadium.
Reyes has proved capable as Pasco’s offensive leader, with 915 yards passing.
He’s also been the Bulldogs’ vocal leader, taking charge in practices as well as the games.
Licon is the No. 2 receiver in the MCC, with 30 catches for 538 yards.
Kamiakin must find a way to stop the Reyes-Licon connection.
The Braves must also find a way to respond from last week’s 42-18 loss to Kennewick.
Kamiakin’s defense had no answer for the Lions’ offensive line, nor could the Braves offense move the ball consistently.
Kamiakin RB Tuna Altahir is still the MCC’s leading rusher with 572 yards rushing on 78 carries; an astounding 7.3 yards per touch.
And QB Henry Mercado and WR Kelen Rutz are still among the league leaders in their offensive categories.
2. Hanford (2-2 MCC, 2-2 overall) at Chiawana (3-0, 3-1), 7 p.m., Friday, Edgar Brown Stadium.
The Falcons carry the MCC’s No. 2 offense up against Chiawana’s top defense.
That’s the matchup.
Brett Jay’s Falcons have won the games they should have so far, but lost contests to playoff-caliber teams like Kennewick and Kamiakin.
Easton Wise-Hyde, Hanford’s quarterback, is the top QB in the MCC right now, having already surpassed 1,000 passing yards (he has 1,054), and throwing 9 TD passes against three interceptions.
The question is, can Hanford’s defense, ranked last in the MCC, stop Chiawana running back Gabe Schilz? He’s ranked second among MCC running backs with 438 yards rushing. He’s also found the end zone an MCC-best nine times (tied with Kamiakin’s Altahir).
3. Kennewick (3-1 overall) at Davis (3-1 overall), 7 p.m., Friday, Zaepfel Stadium.
This is a non-league contest in Yakima.
The visiting Lions have looked great the past few weeks in MCC play.
They’ve used sophomore RB Myles Mayovsky liberally, giving him 25-30 carries so he cannot only chew up yardage, but time on the clock. He’s the No. 3 rusher in the MCC with 403 yards.
And Kennewick has the No. 3 offense AND defense in the MCC right now.
But this game isn’t just about going into Zaepfel, winning easily and eating burgers at Miner’s afterward. Davis will be no pushover.
Jay Dumas has stepped in as head coach and gotten the Pirates off to a 3-1 start.
They have the No. 3-ranked defense in the Big Nine Conference, and quarterback Jose Reyes has passed for 919 yards, and tossed 10 TD passes against five interceptions.
Kickoffs at 7 p.m., Friday, unless noted otherwise
Columbia-Burbank (2-0 EWAC, 4-0 overall) at Liberty Christian (0-1, 1-3), at Hanford High School. Back into the 2B EWAC wars for these two. Do host Patriots have the defense to contain Coyotes speedster Abe Garcia?
Connell (2-2 overall) at Naches Valley (1-3). RB Jakoby Tuttle has been impressive for the visiting Eagles these past few weeks, and we’re not sure the host Rangers can stop him either.
Dayton-Waitsburg (0-1 EWAC, 0-4 overall) at Mabton (0-2, 2-2), 1 p.m., Saturday. Visiting Bulldogs hoping to get their first 2B EWAC victory on a Saturday afternoon.
Eisenhower (0-1 Big Nine, 2-2 overall) at Sunnyside (1-0, 3-1). Host Grizzlies, who unveiled a rushing game last week when Arturo Fernandez had 297 yards, must stop the Cadets’ Jaiden Corbray-to-Malachi Spurrier passing connection.
Ephrata (0-1 CWAC North, 0-4 overall) at Othello (1-0, 2-2). Isaac Barragan had 196 yards rushing last week for the host Huskies, who entertain the Tigers in this CWAC North matchup.
Kiona-Benton (2-0 SCAC East, 3-1 overall) at Wahluke (0-2, 2-2). Ken Noel’s hot Bears roll into Mattawa, having won their first two league games.
Prosser (1-0 CWAC South, 2-2 overall) at Grandview (0-0, 0-4). The visiting Mustangs – with offensive weapons Kaiden Rivera and Logan Candanoza – face winless Greyhounds, who are playing their first conference game.
River View (1-1 SCAC East, 3-1 overall) at College Place (0-2, 2-2). Visiting Panthers are led by WR Robert Nunez (17 catches, 215 yards) on offense, and LB Kolten Anderson (46 tackles) on defense.
Royal (1-0 SCAC East, 4-0 overall) at Warden (0-1, 2-2). Top-ranked Knights back into SCAC East wars with road trip. Caleb Christensen passed for five touchdowns last week, four to Cooper Christensen.
Walla Walla (2-2 MCC, 2-2 overall) at Richland (1-2, 2-2). Can visiting Blue Devils find a way to contain Bombers’ QB Harrison Westover and WR Ben Fewel? Can host Richland bounce back after tough loss to Pasco?
Americans get more help
Just in time for the Tri-City Americans’ home opener (7:05 p.m. Saturday vs. the Spokane Chiefs), the Ams will be getting 20-year-old centers Kyle Olson and Krystof Hrabik back on the roster.
Olson just finished an amateur tryout with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate.
Meanwhile, Hrabik has been signed to a two-year deal with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda, the San Jose Sharks’ affiliate.
The Barracuda in turn has loaned him to the Americans for the 2019-20 season.Hrabik scored two goals for the Barracuda in two AHL exhibition games.
Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor of the Herald.