Mazen Saade wasn’t on campus at Onalaska High School very long Monday before the subject came up.
How to the Loggers take down traditional Class 2B high school football powerhouse Napavine on Friday night?
It’s a top Saade knows his players will face all week, in classrooms and coffee shops with the public – and at the dinner table with their families.
“These kids are about living in the present right now,” Saade said. “They know who they are playing.”
For a second consecutive week around the state of Washington, the top two teams in a classification will face off in a regular-season game.
Last week, No. 2 O’Dea toppled No. 1 Eastside Catholic, 28-6, in the Class 3A ranks.
Next week, it will be No. 1 Odessa and No. 2 Almira/Coulee-Hartline squaring off in a Class 1B blockbuster.
But this week, the stage belongs to these two Southwest Washington District rivals.
The biggest question heading into the matchup is who deserves to be called the No. 1 team?
If you go by tradition – and the media-driven Associated Press poll – the Tigers are the road favorites.
“Most of the guys have been in our program long enough … to know what to expect and how to handle a game like this,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said.
But as Scorebook Live talked to 2B Pacific coaches in the preseason, their consensus choice for No. 1 in the state was Onalaska.
“We’ve been playing well,” Saade said. “I’ve been impressed with our offensive line.”
It has opened big inside lanes for 1,000-yard rusher Ashton Haight at fullback. And that has allowed quarterback Lucas Kreger to hit on a few big plays of his own.
The Tigers also are big up front – maybe even boasting a little more size – and that has benefited first-year starting quarterback Laythan Demarest, who has totaled more than a combined 1,600 passing-rushing yards in six games.
“Certainly we’ve been able to measure ourselves against some good teams – teams that are ranked high,” Fay said. “To some extent, that is an unknown for them. But I am sure they are willing to test that out on us.”
Last week: No. 2 O’Dea 28, No. 1 Eastside Catholic 6
The Irish rushed for 270 yards, led by Cameron Daniels’ 133 yards on 30 carries, and O’Dea snapped the Crusaders’ 18-game winning streak with a convincing victory in Sammamish.
O’Dea went 88 yards on 18 plays – chewing up 10:44 off the clock – to start the second half. The series was capped by Milton Hopkins Jr.’s 1-yard touchdown run to give the Irish a 21-6 lead.
Next week: No. 2 ACH at No. 1 Odessa, 7 p.m.
The Tigers will come in on a six-game winning streak against the Warriors, including two victories last season – 56-22 during the regular season, and 63-12 in the state championship game.
ACH is averaging nearly 360 rushing yards per game, led by running back Brayton Schafer (683 yards, 14 touchdowns). Odessa nearly matches that at 305 rushing yards per game, led by reigning 1B state player of the year Marcus King (500 rushing yards, nine TDs).
The Tigers have posted shutouts in their past three games – and given up just two touchdowns all season. This will be their homecoming game – and final home game (senior night).