Back off the disabled list – but far from 100 percent – the overworked and underpaid preps writer returns to keep his two-game lead over the debonair and charming TV anchor.
We both went 4-2 last week (overall Nichols 11, Adams 9), and as fate would have it, the Week 4 slate features scant opportunity for going out on a limb. Both prognosticators are playing close to the vest this week, but we do have a discrepancy in the headlining matchup.
I feel good knowing that heading into midseason that either way my opponent will have to start examining the schedule closer for upset picks.
As always, these predictions are for recreational purposes only. Please don’t bet on high school football.
Mt Spokane (3-0) at Central Valley (1-2, 0-1), 7 p.m.
Nichols: The Wildcats enter ranked No. 6 in state 3A in the Seattle Times poll coming off a 56-6 rout of Sandpoint. That win came at a price, though, as QB Brady Hill was lost to injury with no timetable for return. The Wildcats will have to lean more heavily on RB Kannon Katzer. CV gave up 231 rushing yards in its 41-39 loss to Lewis and Clark, but the offense started to look a little more like the Bears we’re used to. Matt Gabbert finished 18 of 27 for 241 yards while Zach Jongeward carried 23 times for 193 yards and Hunter Chodorowski added 98 yards on the ground. CV 34-24.
Mt. Spokane’s biggest obstacle right now is that Mt. Spokane hasn’t faced a big obstacle yet. The Wildcats have cruised to lopsided wins over Damien (Hawaii), Moses Lake, and Sandpoint. But Mt. Spokane gets one of its toughest draws of the season with a road game at Central Valley, which is anxious to bounce back from a stunning home loss to Lewis and Clark. Having Hill out will certainly hurt Mt. Spokane’s chances, but let’s not forget about Katzer, who rushed for three touchdowns last week, and a stifling defense that returned two touchdowns for scores while forcing four turnovers against Sandpoint. MtS 24-21.
Highland (4-0) at Coeur d’Alene (4-0), 7 p.m.
Nichols: A rematch of last year’s Idaho 5A State title game – and quite possibly a preview of this year’s as well. The defending champion Rams (4-0) enter No. 1 in the state media poll, the Vikings are at No. 3. Highland is averaging more than 35 points and have allowed 50 in four games (12.5 per). CdA’s two-way threat Kale Edwards threw for 205 yards and rushed for another 30 on four carries in a little over three quarters last week in a lightning-shortened 52-14 rout of Eisenhower of Yakima. Edwards’ favorite target, Colbey Nosworthy, had two TD catches last week and has five total this season – including one on a punt return. The Vikings should be able to take advantage of home field this week. CdA 38-35.
Adams: Coeur d’Alene continues to run the gauntlet in its lead-up to its Inland Empire League campaign. Honestly, the way the Vikings are flying around on defense, running the ball with Shilo Morgan, and getting the run-pass option from Edwards, I just don’t see anyone beating Coeur d’Alene this season, even in a rematch of last year’s state championship game. CdA 19-16.
Shadle Park at Gonzaga Prep (2-1, 1-0), 7 p.m.
Nichols: G-Prep has run off a pair of wins after its season-opening loss at Coeur d’Alene, beating St. Ignatius by five before outlasting a game University squad last week 46-33. In that one, QB Connor Halonen continued to show his development as a passer, going 5 of 7 for 138 yards with four touchdown passes – all longer than 20 yards. Shadle lost a close one at Cheney (42-40) with three straight games against 4A opponents before getting into league play. G-Prep 28-14.
Adams: A banged up G-Prep squad willed itself to a win at upset-minded University, featuring a surprising amount of passing from the do-everything Halonen, who still managed to run for – gulp – 270 yards. He’ll continue to do his thing, and so will go-to receiver Travis Hojnacki and feature back Zane Melzer. G-Prep 48-21.
Ferris (2-1, 0-1) vs Lewis and Clark (3-0, 1-0) at 7:30 p.m. at Albi Stadium
Nichols: The Tigers, who finished 4-7 (and 2-3 in the Greater Spokane League) last year find themselves at the top of the standings, the only 4A team left undefeated. They have an inside track to the league title with their impressive win over CV last week. LC is led by another two-way offensive star in QB Michael Flaherty, who rushed for 165 yards with two scores and threw for 241 and three more against the Bears. The Saxons hope to rebound off a loss to Mead where they punted almost as many times as they completed passes. LC 28-17.
Adams: Did anyone else think this year’s battle for South Hill supremacy would feature teams with a combined record of 5-1? By comparison, the Saxons and the Tigers were a combined 1-5 at this point in the season. Both teams are markedly improved from a year ago. Ferris dang near beat Mead last week, and LC looked strong in person when I saw them beat CV on the road. Expect this one to be much more competitive than last year’s 28-0 outcome won by the Tigers. LC 27-23.
Newport (3-0, 1-0) at Freeman (0-3, 0-1), 7 p.m.
Nichols: On paper, this one shouldn’t be close. Newport has run roughshod over a pair of North Idaho foes and shut out Deer Park 34-0 last week, as Tiegen Prange threw for 178 yards with two touchdowns and the Grizzlies defeated the visiting Stags. The Scotties lost a couple of close ones early and hung with Riverside last week in the first quarter before the Rams pulled away. Being at home will help but the Scotties are heavy underdogs in this one. Newport 42-10.
Adams: You can chalk up part of the Scotties’ winless start to a tough schedule, but they get no relief against Newport in a battle of 0-3 vs. 3-0. Amazingly, Newport has surrendered just eight points all season, and this is the same squad that shut out Freeman a year ago. I don’t know if another goose egg is on the menu for Newport this time around, but they might just make that their own team challenge. Newport 27-17.
Liberty (1-2) at Northwest Christian (2-1), 7 p.m.
Nichols: The Crusaders looked to be world beaters the first two weeks of the season before running into state 2B’s No. 3-ranked Tri-Cities Prep last week in a 49-18 setback that wasn’t even as close as the score – NWC scored all its points in the second half. TCP put up 206 yards on the ground with seven running TDs. They’ll look to rebound at home against the Lancers, which blanked Irrigon (Oregon) last week behind Justin King, who caught 10 passes for 137 yards with two touchdowns. NWC 24-13.
Adams: The Lancers didn’t lose their first game until December last season, but this year Liberty is trying to shrug off a 1-2 start. Such is life when you’re trying to replace two all-state players and several all-league selections. Liberty returned to its winning ways with a shut out last week, but will face a stiff challenge in battle-tested NWC. If this game was in Spangle, I’d give the nod to Liberty. It’s not, so I’m pushing my chips in on a Crusaders squad that will lean heavily on senior running back Silas Perreiah. NWC 27-21.