Here are five things to know about the 2011 Columbia Basin Big Nine 4A football season:
1) For so many years, there was always at least one team you could count out of the race as a possible contender for the league championship.
Not so, this season. With Chiawana and Richland taking heavy losses to graduation, everybody's got a shot.
Davis, for years the Big 9 doormat, finally picked itself up by its bootstraps and made itself a winner in 2010.
The Pirates are back again with three of the league's best offensive players.
Moses Lake and Walla Walla were perennial condenters for years before taking a step back last season.
But they're back strong this year with young, hungry lineups waiting to prove themselves.
2) If you were wondering when you might see legendary former Prosser coach Tom Moore on the sideline again, wait no further.
He's back as Richland's quarterback's coach, reuniting him with former Mustangs star OL Josh Jelinek, the Bombers' offensive coordinator.
"He brings instant credibility to the kids," Bombers coach Mike Neidhold said.
The Richland offense could make big strides
in the passing game after years as a run-first program.
"The kids feed off his excitement. He's helped re-teach our passing game with a completely different perspective," Neidhold said.
3) Walla Walla gets its third coach in three seasons as Eric Hisaw takes over for Mike Gobel, who returned to an assistant's role with the Blue Devils.
Hisaw was a former Wa-Hi assistant under Marc Yonts, who led the Devils to two Big Nine titles and nine playoff appearances in 14 seasons from 1996-2009, but Hisaw stepped away to spend more time with his family.
This year, he was encouraged by a special someone to take the job.
"I wasn't going to take it, but my wife said, 'You need to take this.' I said, 'Excuse me?' " Hisaw said. "My goal on Friday is to have the city of Walla Walla shut down and stand around outside Borleske Stadium.
"If we're 0-10 or 10-0, that's where I want this thing to go."
4) Every season, a handful of players come seemingly out of nowhere to make a difference.
Chiawana QB Joey Zamora -- cousin to Miquiyah -- could make the biggest impact, depending on how he holds up under the expectations as Riverhawks signal-caller.
But Graff trusts him with the keys to the castle, so look for big things from the 6-3 sophomore.
In Wenatchee, WR Isaiah Brandt-Sims is putting on the pads after winning the 4A state 100- and 200-meter sprint titles as a freshman. Will he be able to handle the physicality of the CBBN?
Davis OL Camron Fry walked his 6-7, 320-pound frame into coach Rick Clark's office one day last spring, saying, "My dad says I should play football."
Uhhhh... Ya think?
5) Looking for some big games to attend this season? Here's a few that should satisfy you:
1) Richland at Chiawana, Sept. 30. Last year's matchup featured two unbeaten teams with the CBBN title still up for grabs. Expect nothing less this year.
2) Pasco at Chiawana, Sept. 9. The first Gravel Pit Bowl lived up to its billing, gripping fans with a taut thriller before the Riverhawks eventually pulled away.
3) Davis at Ike, Oct. 7. Two top offenses with loaded backfields should light up the scoreboard.
4) Richland at Wenatchee, Oct. 7. Could be Panthers' chance to challenge for CBBN title.
5) Walla Walla at Moses Lake, Oct. 21. Two proud programs battling to make it back to playoffs.