Wednesday, July 28, 2021
July 28, 2021

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Martinez: An early look ahead to a ‘normal’ football season

High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor

The start of the 2021 fall football schedule is less than two months away, and the start of the 2021-22 school year promises to bring something we’ve lacked for more than a year and half — normal times.

With the state opening back up fully, we can look to football being played once again on Fridays in the fall.

So I thought it was a good time to take a look at the fall football schedule, look at some key dates and how local teams have mapped out their fall 2021 schedules.

And stay tuned to our 360preps social media channels (Twitter and Instagram) as we will sharing football schedules for teams from Castle Rock to White Salmon over the next couple of weeks.

4A Greater St. Helens League

After playing last spring exclusively within the 4A/3A GSHL, local teams will again travel around the region to see how they match up with some of best programs in the Northwest.

Teams in the 4A GSHL will play just three league games, leaving six openings on their schedule to plot as they wished.

Camas took the Oregon approach to its non-league slate. The Papermakers will play the entire month of September against Portland metro powers — road games at Central Catholic and West Linn and home games against Clackamas and Jesuit.

Union filled its non-league schedule with local rivals and teams from around the state. The Titans will face all three Evergreen Public School teams (Mountain View, Heritage and Evergreen). But they will also host 2019 3A state runner-up O’Dea of Seattle in Week 1 and make trips to play 2019 4A state participants Chiawana and Wenatchee.

In an odd quirk, Skyview will play its first three games at Battle Ground’s District Stadium. The Storm have a Sept. 10 game against Battle Ground, but also will play “home” games against Columbia River and Sunnyside at District Stadium. Kiggins Bowl is undergoing renovations which will keep it out of service for much of September. The Storm also has a non-league game at Coeur d’Alene Idaho and will host Adrienne Nelson, a new school in Happy Valley, Ore.

Battle Ground is the lone school to fill its schedule completely with all eight 4A/3A GSHL teams, as well as a Week 1 matchup with Ingraham of Seattle.

The key 4A GSHL league contest fill the last three weeks of the regular season: Union at Skyview on Oct. 15, Skyview at Camas on Oct. 22 and Camas at Union on Oct. 29.

3A Greater St. Helens League

Judging by the number of tight games last spring, every week of league play among the 3A GSHL teams figures to be interesting.

As for non-league games, Mountain View was the only 3A GSHL school to play all of its non-league games against schools from the same or a higher classification — 3A Kentlake, plus 4As Union, Wenatchee, Camas and Battle Ground.

All the other schools will face at least two 2A non-league foes: Evergreen (Centralia, Washougal, W.F. West), Heritage (Ridgefield, W.F. West), Kelso (W.F. West, North Thurston) and Prairie (Washougal, Hudson’s Bay, Black Hills).

The most interesting part of Kelso’s schedule is the teams that aren’t on it. For the first time in a long time, the Hilanders will not face either Mark Morris or R.A. Long this fall. The last time Kelso faced those schools in 2019, the Hilanders won by a combined 110-0.

2A Greater St. Helens League

All eight teams in 2A GSHL will open with non-league games in Weeks 1 and 2 before diving into league play in Weeks 3-9.

Washougal is the lone school to fill both non-league weeks with 3A opponents (Prairie and Evergreen).

Columbia River will travel in the first two weeks to play Skyview and Bremerton while renovations on its home stadium are completed. Hockinson also opens on the road with two tough opponents — Lynden and Kalama. Woodland renews some neighboring rivalries with games against Kalama and La Center.

Once league play starts, Hockinson will face some challenges in trying to keep its streak of seven straight league titles alive. The last time the Hawks didn’t win or share the league title was the last year Rick Steele was not the coach. Key dates for the Hawks are Sept. 17 (Ridgefield), Oct. 8 (Columbia River) and Oct. 29 (Washougal).

1A Trico League

With Goldendale returning to the Central Washington Athletic Conference and King’s Way Christian playing an independent schedule, Trico League teams have five weeks of non-league games to play.

As coach John Lambert prefers, La Center has loaded its non-league slate with tough matchups against Cascade Christian, Woodland, Kalama, Eatonville and Montesano.

Castle Rock also is not shying away from tough non-leagues games against Mark Morris, Ridgefield, Elma, Montesano and Eatonville.

Once league play begins in October, all signs point to a Week 9 matchup between the Wildcats and Rockets in Castle Rock.