Thursday night’s Hanford at Kamiakin football game isn’t the area’s biggest contest this weekend.
That honor has to go to the Central Washington Athletic Conference matchup between unbeatens Prosser and host Ellensburg at 7 p.m. Friday.
But when it comes to the region’s large schools, the Falcons-Braves matchup — set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Lampson Stadium — is pretty big.
This contest pairs the Mid-Columbia Conference’s top two Class 3A teams. Kamiakin (5-1, 4-0 MCC) is tied for first with Richland, while Hanford (4-2, 2-2) is tied for third with Chiawana (3-3, 2-2).
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The MCC’s top two offensive units belong to Kamiakin and Hanford, while the Braves are also ranked No. 1 on defense.
Hanford, on the other hand, is ranked seventh out of eight teams defensively.
“We must limit their big plays by doing our job and not trying to do too much,” Hanford coach Brett Jay said. “With their skill guys, we know we have to keep them in front of us and tackle well as a team. We need to reset the line of scrimmage and let our linebackers run free.”
The Braves have the MCC’s top-ranked quarterback in passing efficiency in Zach Borisch, who has a 160.3 rating. Running back Jethro Questad is second in rushing with 743 yards and has found the end zone 10 times this season.
Receiver Gavin Crow is a deep threat for Kamiakin. He’s averaging 25.7 yards per catch with his 12 receptions.
That’s a lot of weapons for the Braves.
“We have to control the line of scrimmage, limit their big plays, and be balanced on offense by getting multiple guys involved in the game,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said.
Offensively, the Falcons also have a lot of weapons.
Freshman Joshua Fonner has started at quarterback the past few weeks, allowing the speedy Desmond Samples — the former starting QB — to move outside to receiver.
Fonner has a 151.3 QB rating, putting him only behind Borisch in the MCC.
Besides Samples, Fonner can throw to Elwood Davis (second in the MCC with 23 receptions), Gavin Slack (15 catches, averaging 21.5 yards per reception), Kevon Skinner (15 catches) or Kedrick Skinner (13 catches with an impressive 21.6 yards per reception).
“Kamiakin is a well-coached team with excellent talent,” Jay said. “We want to establish a run game and move the chains early. We must be efficient through the air.”
There will be pressure on the Kamiakin secondary — led by Jace Navejas, who has three interceptions, and Darreon Moore — to stop that attack.
“It will be fun to watch how our DBs stack up against their very good wide receivers,” Biglin said. “Lots of talent on the field in this game.”
That includes the lines on both sides of the ball.
“I think the most interesting piece to this matchup is the line of scrimmage,” Jay said. “Whoever wins the box will be in a good position.”
A win Thursday night by the Braves would clinch the top 3A seed for Kamiakin in the regional crossover playoffs. A Hanford win wouldn’t clinch a berth for the Falcons, but it would put them in good position.