At the start of every high school football season, there is a sense of the unknown.
There are goals, expectations and predictions. But every season brings an element of surprise.
Now that the calendar has turned from September to October and league play begins to dominate the schedule, it seems like a good time to check into where the league races stand and what teams are in line to claim playoff berths.
So let’s take a look, league by league.
4A Greater St. Helens League
When the season began, the expectation was that there would be three teams fighting for two playoff berths. And those berths would be decided by three games over the final three weeks of the regular season: Union vs. Skyview in Week 7, Skyview vs. Camas in Week 8 and Camas vs. Union in Week 9.
Even though Camas’ 1-4 mark after five weeks looks a lot worse than the 4-1 records of Union and Skyview, really nothing has changed. Camas’ challenging non-league slate and the competitive nature of all four losses have not eliminated the Papermakers from the playoff conversation.
One thing that has changed is the date of the Union-Skyview matchup. Because of renovations at Kiggins Bowl and to ease the burden on the officials association, the Titans and Storm will play on Thursday, Oct. 14 at Kiggins Bowl. And the annual rivalry game between Camas and Union on Oct. 29 at McKenzie will be played at 4:30 p.m. So plan accordingly.
3A Greater St. Helens League
Even though there are four weeks left in the season, it’s hard to think that last week’s win by Mountain View over Kelso wasn’t the pivotal game of league play.
There are only two berths for the 3A GSHL, and Evergreen and Prairie could find themselves on the outside looking in, unless one or both can score a win over the Thunder or Hilanders.
Oct. 15 could be pivotal date in those hopes. Evergreen faces Kelso in the 4:30 p.m. game at McKenzie, while Prairie hosts Mountain View at District Stadium. If the Plainsmen and Falcons both fall on the 15th, that could signal that Mountain View and Kelso will garner the postseason berths. Kelso has already routed Prairie.
2A Greater St. Helens League
Thursday’s meeting between Mark Morris (3-0) and Ridgefield (3-0) is a surprising showdown of league unbeatens. But if the Spudders prevail, they will be in the definite driver’s seat for the league title.
Thursday’s game will be pivotal in a couple of ways. Not only is it a battle of unbeatens, but the Spudders are looking to rally around Logan DeBeaumont as he gets the start in place of injured quarterback Brayden Malella.
If that transition goes smoothly — and Malella and DeBeaumont opened the season sharing quarterbacking duties — the Spudders won’t break stride in their run to the postseason.
After that, it is a wide-open race for the other three berths to the district playoffs with Columbia River (2-1), Hockinson (2-1), R.A. Long (1-2) and Washougal (1-2).
1A Trico League
At the start of the season, I think most circled the Oct. 29 matchup between La Center and Castle Rock for the league title.
And that still might be the case. But don’t look past the Seton Catholic Cougars.
The Cougars’ win over Columbia-White Salmon last week established Seton as the main challenger to La Center and Castle Rock.
After a non-league game Friday against Elma, the Cougars face back-to-back showdowns at home on Oct. 15 against Castle Rock and Oct. 22 against La Center.
Central 2B League
The race for the league title figures to take shape over Week 7 and 8. Kalama (2-0) hosts Onalaska (2-0) on Oct. 15, then Chinooks host Toledo (3-1) at Oct. 22