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Big week of MCC football begins Thursday at Lampson

Bob Robertson, retiring as Voice of the Cougars, and Jeff Morrow, retired as Tri-City Herald sports editor, at the high school state basketball tournament in Tacoma in 2015.
Bob Robertson, retiring as Voice of the Cougars, and Jeff Morrow, retired as Tri-City Herald sports editor, at the high school state basketball tournament in Tacoma in 2015. Jeff Morrow selfie

It’s possible that after this weekend, as many as five football teams could be tied for first in the Mid-Columbia Conference standings.

In my 47 years of following local high school football (I am old), I have never seen six teams still alive for the league title with two weeks to go.

But here we are, with Hanford and Chiawana sitting in first with 6-1 records, and Hermiston, Kamiakin, Kennewick and Richland one game behind at 5-2.

It just so happens all six are playing each other, and I’ll have an advance for Friday’s games tomorrow.

But Chiawana does visit Kamiakin at 7 p.m. Thursday, at Lampson Stadium in a key showdown.

The visiting Riverhawks come in after rolling over Southridge 44-0 last Friday, while Kamiakin had a 14-0 lead but ended up losing at Richland 21-14.

Chiawana has the MCC’s top defense, while Kamiakin has the No. 4 offense.

The Braves will need to move the ball better than they did last week against the Bombers – they had minus-3 yards of offense on six possessions in the second half.

Chiawana has to find a way to stop Braves QB Lucas Castilleja from connecting with his tall receivers. Castilleja is ranked No. 2 in the MCC in total yards with 1,451. Niko Wiltz (27 catches for 352 yards) and Jaxson Nichols (16-345) are ranked 1-2 in MCC receiving.

Meanwhile, Kamiakin must concentrate on stopping AJ Vongphachanh – who rushed for four TDs last week against the Suns – and Gabe Schilz in the backfield.

Chiawana has already clinched a Class 4A regional playoff berth. But the Riverhawks are looking to host that regional game.

Hermiston, Kamiakin and Kennewick are all tied for second, but only two get to advance in the postseason in Class 3A.

Robertson steps down

What a week for WSU football. On the one hand, College Game Day is coming to Pullman for the first time ever. But at the same time, the great Bob Robertson announced on Monday his immediate retirement.

Here are some of his numbers, provided by WSU: Robertson was in his 52nd year calling Cougar athletics, serving as the play-by-play voice from 1964-2011, then moving over to the analyst chair for the past seven seasons. He began his association with WSU football in 1964 and with the exception of a three-year period from 1969-71, has been a member of WSU’s broadcast crew ever since. He was behind the mic for 589 Cougar games, including 568 consecutive broadcasts from 1964-2016, the lone exception being the 1981 Holiday Bowl when local radio was not permitted to broadcast.

“But as of this moment, I’ve now asked the athletic department at Washington State University to list me as a retired, former sportscaster for the Cougars,” Robertson continued in the school’s press release. “It is a matter of getting old is what it is. Everything seems to move a lot faster around me; I move more slowly.

“I hope to see you soon, I’m not going to go away. I like Washington State people and the school itself too much to do that. But I am going to be on the retired list, starting immediately.”

Great guy. Ran into him at the state high school basketball tournament in Tacoma in 2015, where he was working high school basketball with Paul Sorenson. Always willing to talk to anyone, and he inspired an entire generation or two of radio people in the Northwest.

The Stanley Cup is coming

Everyone who is part of winning the Stanley Cup gets to have a day with the treasured Cup. Olie Kolzig, the development coach for the Washington Capitals, is using his Stanley Cup day in the Tri-Cities.

Kolzig, an owner of the Tri-City Americans, will have the Cup at the Kolzig Presents the Stanley Cup Champions Dinner to Benefit the Carson Kolzig Foundation at Meadow Springs Country Club, starting at 6 p.m. Oct. 23.

Those interested and need more details should call 509-528-4144.

Dust Devils

Ann Shively, the assistant general manager sponsorships for the Tri-City Dust Devils, was named the Northwest League Woman Executive of the Year at last week’s Northwest League meeting in Salem, Ore.

“Ann has spent six seasons with the Dust Devils and has been instrumental in providing excellent customer service to both our fans and partners of the Dust Devils,” said Derrel Ebert, Dust Devils vice president and general manager. “She has grown as a leader in that time and is very deserving of this honor.”

By winning the award, Shively is also nominated for the Rawlings Woman Executive of the Year, a national award given out at the Baseball Winter Meetings this December in Las Vegas.

College roundup

It was great to see Connell grad Matt Hadley finally get a chance to run the football for BYU. Hadley, a senior, has played various positions for the Cougars over the years, but never at running back, something he excelled in back in high school. Hadley was called into action on Saturday in BYU’s 49-23 win over Hawaii, rushing nine times for 91 yards, and scoring on a 21-yard run. According to a Connell Football Tweet after the game, Hadley’s 10.1 yards per rush average was identical to his career average for the Eagles. … Colten Chelin (Kamiakin) has made the adjustment from high school football to college quite well. The freshman defensive back was named the Northwest Conference’s Defensive Student-Athlete of the Week, as he helped Whitworth defeat Pacific Lutheran 55-13 on Saturday. Chelin had 6 tackles (1 for loss) and an interception that he returned 19 yards in the victory. As the Pirates are 5-0, Chelin has 20 tackles and two interceptions this season. … PLU’s women’s soccer team is in third place in the Northwest Conference standings – just 2 points behind first-place leader Willamette. The Lutes, who have a 7-2-1 NWC record and are 8-3-3 overall, have a Tri-City flavor to their roster. Sophomore Kelly Brown (Southridge grad) has started 14 matches at midfielder, while junior Brianna Hunting (Southridge) has started in 13 matches. Sophomore midfielder Savannah Brown (Southridge) has started in five matches, while freshman forward Jessica Maher (Hanford) has played in three matches. …

The Eastern Washington University volleyball team has six freshmen, which might explain its 8-13 record so far. But sophomore Catelyn Linke (Pasco) has been a bright spot. In a 3-2 loss to Montana State last week, Linke had 17 kills and 17 digs. … Weber State’s women’s soccer team is in first place in the Big Sky Conference standings with a 6-1-1 record. Sadie Newsom (Hanford) and Haley Thomas (Southridge) are members of that team. … Meanwhile, Pasco High grad Chad Bodnar is trying to get his EWU women’s soccer team into the Big Sky tournament. The Eagles (2-4-1) are tied for the sixth and final spot with Montana (1-2-4). Eastern plays at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah this week to end the regular season.

H1 Awards

It should come as no surprise that the U-9 Les Schwab Tire/Jones Racing team would clean up in the awards after Saturday’s H1 Unlimited banquet at the Three Rivers Convention Center. The U-9 team won the following: Crew of the Year, Crew Chief of the Year (Jeff Campbell), Owner of the Year (Mike and Lori Jones), High-point champion driver (Andrew Tate), High-point champion team, and the Gold Cup winner presentation.

Matt Funk and NBC Right Now Tri-Cities/SWX team also won an Excellence in Television Media Award. Funk put together a team from Tri-Cities and Spokane SWX to produce the Seafair race show with KONG Television in Seattle. That’s in addition to the team’s stellar work with the Columbia Cup show.