By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
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Port Angeles and Port Townsend haven’t met on a football field since the opening game of the 1967 season, as the then AA Roughriders bested the A Redskins 21-7 at Memorial Field on Sept. 15, 1967.
That all changes tonight, when Class 1A Port Townsend makes the drive west on U.S. Highway 101 for a 7 p.m. tilt with 2A Port Angeles at Civic Field.
The port city pairing also were set to open the 1968 season together, but a levy failure curtailed all athletics in the Port Angeles School District.
Then the city of Port Angeles went on a growth spurt, bumping the team up to the 3A and even 4A classifications for much of the 1970s through the early 2000s.
Port Townsend grew as well, but enrollment only pushed the school to the 2A ranks in the mid-1990s before falling to present-day level.
“Like Sequim, this game is a big deal,” Roughriders coach Tom Wahl told his team after practice last Saturday.
“You’ll see these players during other sports and activities and you’ll want to be able to know you protected your backyard.”
It will be the 79th contest between the two teams, but the first game as Redhawks for Port Townsend, after a student vote replaced the Redskins moniker last spring.
Redhawks coach Nick Snyder is pleased to open with Port Angeles.
“I don’t think adversity builds character, I think it reveals character, and Port Angeles will be a great test for us,” Snyder said.
“We’ll be ready to get after it.”
Fans should expect a physical ground game from both teams.
Each squad boasts large, physical linemen, and Port Townsend is expected to have two hulking running backs that tip the scales at more than 220 pounds apiece in juniors David Sua and Wesley Wheeler.
SEQUIM — The Cowboys kick off the season with a visit to 2A Sequim tonight.
“We’re going to be happy with smaller victories to start,”
Chimacum coach Mike Dowling said.
“Picking up first downs, getting some scores and trying to put together a complete game.”
Sequim will seek to break an 11-game losing streak dating back to late in the 2012 season.
“Tough way to start,” Dowling said of the Sequim game.
“He’s [Wolves coach Erik Wiker] a hell of a coach and gets a lot out of his kids.”
Neah Bay at Ocosta
WESTPORT — The Red Devils begin their 1B title defense in the same manner they started last year’s championship run: a step up in class for an 11-man game.
This time Neah Bay heads down the coast to take on the Wildcats tonight at 7 p.m.
After Cusick backed out of the planned opener, Red Devils coach Tony McCaulley preferred to begin the year with an 8-man game due to numerous players at new positions.
But the most important thing was getting those players some sort of game experience before next week’s showdown with top-ranked Lummi.
“I’d rather play an 8-man game because I think we really need to work on our offense, but I’ll take what we can get right now,” McCaulley said.
Ocosta went 3-7 last season in the tough Pacific 2B League.
The Wildcats run a Wing-T attack on offense, with senior Connor Maben set to receive the bulk of carries at running back.
Quilcene at Lopez
LOPEZ ISLAND — The Rangers open the Byron Wilson coaching era in a nonleague contest Saturday at 1 p.m. at Lopez in a bid for a measure of revenge.
The Lobos handed Quilcene two of their three losses last season, including a 37-20 triumph in a winner-to-district playoff game last fall.
FORKS — The young Spartans with just five upperclassmen, will face a tough task against the Rams, winners of three straight AAA British Columbian Provincial football championships.
NBA star Steve Nash attended Mount Douglas.
JOYCE — North Olympic Peninsula pride is on the line in a battle of the Bruins and the Loggers.
The game is at Crescent School at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Clallam Bay is lacking the size needed to produce its typical brand of smash-mouth football.
Instead, the Bruins will try to use team speed and the space available in the 8-man game to their advantage.
Crescent, meanwhile, saw many of its youthful athletes develop size and strength in the offseason.
Senior Zach Fletcher will be the focal point of the Loggers’ offensive attack at running back.
Both teams lack overall experience, so Fletcher and Clallam Bay’s Casey Randall could break off a bunch of big plays.
“It could be just a give one guy, let him run, give the other guy the ball, let him run,” Bruins coach Cal Ritter said.
“It should be interesting. A whole lot of speed, so we’ll see if our speed can out-match their speed.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5152 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.