Here is an inside look at the top high school football games across the state of Washington in Week 7, as compiled by reporters Todd Milles and Andy Buhler.
NO. 9 CENTRAL VALLEY BEARS (5-1) AT MEAD PANTHERS (4-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday at Joe Albi Stadium, Spokane
Game nugget: Sure, Mead beat Central Valley 30-20 last season. But the Bears have won the decade, and a win this weekend makes them winners 8 of the last 10 matchups against its GSL opponent.
About the Bears: The Bears cleared another hurdle in week six. After losing their first game of the season to Coeur d’Alene in week five, Central Valley handed a good Mt. Spokane team its second loss of the season to rebound. Pro-style quarterback Matt Gabbert leads the way for the Bears, and has seen receivers like Cam Sheley and Carson Raab prove themselves as reliable targets. Last week against Mt. Spokane it was the run game that took over. Chad Carlson took 21 carries for 158 yards stepping in for lead running back Ryan Harper, who was out in week six with an injury. it is unclear whether Harper will be back in week seven.
About the Panthers: The Panthers return from sunny Huntington Beach, where they turned the heat up on Marina High School in a 63-27 nonleague win, featuring Ryan Blair’s school record eight touchdowns. If its latest performance shows anything, it’s that Mead’s offense, when firing on all cylinders, is a force. Mead has had its ups this season (a one-touchdown win over rival Mt. Spokane) and downs (losses to CdA and Gonzaga Prep), and Central Valley offers perhaps its toughest challenge yet.
Scorebook Live WA pick: Central Valley 21-10.
YELM TORNADOS (4-2) at PENINSULA SEAHAWKS (4-2)
7 p.m. Friday, at Roy Anderson Field, Purdy
Game nugget: The Seahawks’ gave up 42 points (in 42-21 loss) to Yelm last season – the most in league since Timberline scored 51 in 2017.
About the Tornados: There is no other way to put it – this is a big moment for Yelm. The last time the school won a league title in football was 1939 – and with a victory Friday, the Tornados would take a huge step in that direction. QB Ben Hoffman (937 passing yards, 12 TDs; another five rushing scores) is a physical presence, especially as a runner. He might be best-served to take downfield shots to speedy WRs Sylas Franklin (19 receptions, 384 yards, six TDs) and Austin Schaler to loosen up the Seahawks’ defense.
About the Seahawks: Pay taxes, breathe oxygen – and watch Peninsula go for another league title. QB Peyton Bice (70-117, 863 yards, six TDs) continues to show improved efficiency with each start – and has a reliable pass catcher in WR Chase Wittmers (33 receptions, 452 yards, three TDs). But the biggest reason the Seahawks are in this position – again – is because of their disciplined defense, which outside one bad first half against Skyline, has been the team’s most consistent unit, led by LB Nolan Casey.
Scorebook Live WA pick: Peninsula, 28-23.
NO. 1 TUMWATER THUNDERBIRDS (6-0) at NO. 7 W.F. WEST BEARCATS (6-0)
7 p.m. Friday, at W.F. West Bearcat Stadium, Chehalis
Game nugget: After current Tumwater coach Bill Beattie left that same position in Elma in 1994, he was replaced by Jim Hill, who is the father of W.F. West coach Danny Hill.
About the Thunderbirds: Last season, they had their eight-year run as EvCo champions snapped by Black Hills. And now, they are on a mission to regain that top spot. But this isn’t just your older brother’s Wing-T attack at Tumwater, which still is still flummoxing defenses at will, led by RB Dylan Paine (104 rushes, 565 yards, 12 total TDs). It also has a legitimate passing element to it with QB Cody Whalen (41-62, 805 yards, nine TDs), who can make defenses pay by crowding the line of scrimmage. On defense, Tumwater’s front seven has halted opposing rushing attacks.
About the Bearcats: It’s Danny Hill’s second season at the helm, and W.F. West is attacking much more decisively on both sides of the ball. QB Josiah Johnson (45-94, 778 yards, 14 TDs; 374 rushing yards, eight TDs) is a dual-threat headache, and has done a better job of distributing the football evenly among his playmakers, notably RB Jayden Camoza (94 rushes, 736 yards, eight TDs) and a trio of pass catchers. The Bearcats are in position – at home – to move closer to their first EvCo crown since 2009.
Scorebook Live WA pick: Tumwater, 40-28.
NO. 2 ZILLAH LEOPARDS (6-0) AT NO. 5 LA SALLE LIGHTNING (6-0)
7 p.m. Friday, at Marquette Stadium, Yakima
Game nugget: The SCAC West title game once again. Zillah has owned the decade against La Salle, winning nine matchups in a row dating back to 2010, including a 21-7 win last year at home.
About the Leopards: Zillah has, simply put, been on a tear. The Leopards have allowed one touchdown in the last four weeks, and are averaging a blistering 45 points per game under third-year coach Ron Rood’s triple option offense. Claysen Delp is building on his freshman campaign with another impact season. The sophomore quarterback has a wide range of targets, including 6-foot-3 senior wideout Sebastian Godina and tailback Wes Avila.
About the Lightning: Senior dual threat QB Kieran Kersahw is the reigning league offensive player of the year and one of the best athletes on the field at any given time. It’s no secret La Salle can score — to the tune of 54 point per game. Perhaps the biggest question will be if La Salle can stop Zillah’s offense, which only 2A Ellensburg was able to even somewhat contain this season.
Scorebook Live WA pick: Zillah, 35-14.
NO. 2 NAPAVINE TIGERS (6-0) at NO. 1 ONALASKA LOGGERS (6-0)
7 p.m. Friday, Onalaska High School
Game nugget: One of Napavine coach Josh Fay’s earliest jobs was as an assistant for the Onalaska baseball team (1999-2001).
About the Tigers: They’ve already knocked off defending 2B champion Kalama and fellow league contender Adna at home this season, so a road victory Friday would be them in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed. And Napavine has won eight games in a row in this series. QB Laythan Demarest (44-74, 766 yards, eight TDs; 877 rushing yards, 17 TDs) is arguably the league’s midseason MVP, and should test Onalaska’s unproven secondary with big-chunk passes.
About the Loggers: Expect the entire town to come out for this one. And what should they see? These are easily the two most physical teams in the league (and possibly 2B), which is the way RB Ashton Haight (116 rushes, 1,042 yards,15 TDs) runs between the tackles as a people-moving power fullback. And just when defenses settle in to stop him, QB Lucas Kreger (6-14, 145 yards, four TDs; 592 rushing yards, 11 TDs) calls his own number and usually hits on big plays. Last win against Napavine came in 2005.
Scorebook Live WA pick: Onalaska, 34-29.