This is the first time in my life I’ve been asked to handicap high school football. Working on the sports desk at the paper, writing and editing prep roundups for the past couple of years, I’ve gotten a sense of which teams are usually pretty good.
But I don’t have anywhere near the track record of my predecessor – or my new friendly opponent Sam Adams for that matter. Last thing my wife said to me as I left the house on Wednesday morning: “Don’t sound dumb.”
Easier said than done.
Anyway, venerable scribe Greg Lee was able to secure a two-game lead for me before walking out the door and leaving me to my own defense, but Sam said we’re starting from scratch. Boo. Here goes nothing.
Gonzaga Prep (4-1, 1-0) at Central Valley (3-1, 1-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
Nichols: It’s a battle for early supremacy in the 4A Greater Spokane League. Prep comes in off a big win over Shadle Park and is ranked fifth in the state in the Associated Press 4A poll this week. CV has put up over 40 points three weeks in a row. This one will be fun. Gonzaga Prep 42, Central Valley 38.
Adams: If I were to give you a prediction for this game at the start of the season, I wouldn’t have hesitated to pick Gonzaga Prep. Though the Bullpups haven’t done anything to make me deviate from that prediction, Central Valley has improved so much since Week 1 that there’s a very real chance the Bears can prevail on Friday night. But until someone knocks off the top dogs – er, Pups – in the GSL, I’m sticking with Gonzaga Prep to win a thriller at CV. Gonzaga Prep 28, Central Valley 24.
Mt. Spokane (4-1) vs. Mead (3-2, 2-0), at Albi Stadium, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Nichols: The only blemish on the Wildcats’ record is a 42-38 loss to Prep two weeks ago. They’ve scored 28 points or more in four of their five games and are ranked eighth in the state in 3A. Mead had won three in a row over GSL schools, posting 49, 64 and 37 points, after dropping their first two – to North Idaho juggernauts Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. 4A Mead stands its ground: Mead 35, Mt Spokane 24.
Adams: Mead ended a three-year drought against Mt. Spokane with a 35-12 win in the Battle of the Bell last season. Can Benji Sonnichsen’s bunch beat the Wildcats again? The Panthers have no shortage of weapons on offense, whether it’s QB Ryan Chan, running back Kannon Katzer, or receiver Joe Heitman. Get ready for a track meet in front of a packed house at Albi. Mead 42, Mt. Spokane 38.
West Valley (5-0) at Pullman (3-1, 1-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
Nichols: The Eagles – ranked second in the state in 2A – have fought a level up against two GSL schools and won both handily to stay undefeated overall entering league play. Meanwhile, the Greyhounds knocked off Clarkston last week 21-16 to get off to a 1-0 start in league. I think WV’s duo of Collin Sather and Blake Transue will be too much for Pullman, even at home. West Valley 28, Pullman 14.
Adams: The Eagles are looking to avenge their only regular season loss from last year (36-33), and they’ll have to do it on the road in Pullman. We’ve been calling the names of Blake Transue and Collin Sather a lot during our Friday night TV highlights, and West Valley will need a total team effort to beat the Greyhounds and remain unbeaten at 6-0. West Valley 21, Pullman 20.
Deer Park (3-2, 1-2) at Freeman (4-1, 3-0), Friday at 7 p.m.
Nichols: Freeman has been downright stingy on defense, allowing a meager 7.2 points per game, while Desmond Parisotto directs a varied offense. Deer Park opened the season with an impressive win over Rogers but struggled a bit before bouncing back last week against Chewelah. Freeman 35, Deer Park 14.
Adams: The Scotties defense continues to dominate, allowing just one team to score in double figures this season (14 points vs. Timberlake in their season opener). Freeman has to run the gauntlet in the Northeast A League, coming off wins over Chewelah and Lakeside in back-to-back weeks. Deer Park will present a challenge, but points will be tough to come by for the Stags at Freeman. Freeman 20, Deer Park 13.
Liberty (5-0) at Colfax (4-1), Friday at 7 p.m.
Nichols: Liberty, ranked second in state 2B, has been a bully on defense, limiting its opponents to just over 10 points per game, while racking up an average of 31.8 points on offense. Colfax isn’t too shabby in that regard either, with two shutouts to its credit, though they were blanked by Asotin earlier in the season and average just 16.4 points. Liberty 20, Colfax 14.
Adams: Colfax was able to put the brakes on the Crusader offense in a 14-0 road win last week against Northwest Christian. Jawuan Nave and the Lancers may be much tougher to bring down, as we see a clash of Highway 195 foes square off in Colfax. The Bulldogs may be able to slow down Liberty, but I’m not sure anyone is going to be able to hand the Lancers a loss in league play this year. Liberty 24, Colfax 21.
Lewiston (4-2) at Coeur d’Alene (4-2), Friday at 7 p.m.
Nichols: After traipsing to California and the west side of Washington in its ambitious nonleague schedule, the Vikings – ranked second in Idaho 5A in this week’s media poll – finally settle in to league play for the next three weeks. CdA is powered by Washington Huskies commit Colson Yankoff, who threw four TD passes and ran 47 yards for another in one half of work last week. Coeur d’Alene 48, Lewiston 24.
Adams: The Vikings well remember a 55-51 loss to the Bengals to start the IEL season in 2016. But there are two big differences from last year’s game: 1. It was played in Lewiston; 2. Lewiston QB Colton Richardson has graduated. The road back to the top of the IEL starts Friday for Coeur d’Alene, as the Vikings start their run-up to a season finale against Post Falls that will likely decide the league crown. Coeur d’Alene 44, Lewiston 28.