SEQUIM — A clash of styles awaits tonight as Sequim hosts Forks in the prep football game of the week and maybe the season.
A nonleague game, tonight’s contest matches arguably the two top 11-man football teams on the North Olympic Peninsula. It’s early days on the 2018 season but the Wolves and Spartans produced big wins last week — Sequim in a 44-21 takedown of Washington — and Forks in a 28-8 win over Port Angeles.
Tonight’s game features two head coaches who both played offensive line in college (Sequim’s Erik Wiker at Idaho and Forks’ Emil West at Fort Lewis) and who run vastly different offenses with the Wolves employing their traditional shotgun spread attack and the Spartans championing the power run game.
West, in his third season as head coach at Forks and fourth with the program, transitioned the Spartans back to the team’s traditional tough running scheme when he took over in 2016.
And Forks hasn’t looked back, embracing a “Logger Stock” mentality and getting back to pounding the football behind a stout offensive line.
Wiker said he still loves power football but transitioned to a spread attack in Sequim to best match the strengths of the school’s athletes.
It’s certainly worked out — Wiker is four wins away from 100 with the Wolves — and his teams have rewritten the school record book.
That includes Sequim senior quarterback Riley Cowan, who broke the school’s career passing yardage mark last week and now sits at 4,998 yards for his career. Cowan also is three touchdown passes away from tying another career mark (52 set by Drew Rickerson).
Wiker said Forks and Sequim met during a spring football scrimmage.
“It was tight, [Forks] probably won it but it’s hard to say because it was a scrimmage,” Wiker said.
“We’ve used that to challenge the kids to get better and we’ll be able to know how we’ve improved since then when we play them. Playing Washington was good experience for us because they are similar to Forks — a physical team with big lineman who are good and experienced and coming at you.”
West and his Spartans are again putting a heavy focus on defending the pass, and West said his team will have its hands full against Cowan and the Wolves.
“We are only going to get better at defending the pass,” West said after the Port Angels win. “I expect a much better pass game from Sequim, they are built on the pass. They’ve had the same coach, same scheme, same quarterback for years and they execute well.”
• Prediction: Forks 20, Sequim 19
North Thurston at Port Angeles
PORT ANGELES — The Roughriders must get a better push along the offensive and defensive lines if they want to break through in game two.
Port Angeles was soundly beaten upfront offensively against Forks in a 28-8 loss, producing -6 yards rushing.
To knock off the Class 3A Rams, the Riders will need to bottle up dual-threat running back Jase Marcott. Marcott racked up 215 rushing and receiving yards (148 on the ground and 67 on two catches) while scoring three touchdowns in North Thurston’s 48-16 win over West Seattle in week one.
• Prediction:North Thurston 28, Port Angeles 14
Neah Bay at Taholah
TAHOLAH — Back to eight-man football on both sides of the ball for the Red Devils after playing an 11-man defense in a 56-14 loss to Morton-White Pass to open the season.
This is the season opener for the Chitwins, a team that went 1-7 and lost 58-0 to Neah Bay in 2017.
With a game under their belts, expect the Red Devils to roll.
• Prediction: Neah Bay 40, Taholah 6
Chimacum at South Whidbey
LANGLEY — These two teams met last season with the Cowboys triumphing 13-6 over the Falcons. South Whidbey then rattled off seven straight wins against Class 2B competition to finish with a 7-2 record. The Falcons edged Friday Harbor 20-19 last week, the same score by which they beat the Wolverines in another 2017 rematch, so I’ll stick to the same result too.
• Prediction: Chimacum 13, South Whidbey 6
Saturday’s Game Crescent at Quilcene
QUILCENE — The Loggers were able to rest their senior star running back and linebacker Luke Leonard in a 58-50 win over Chief Leschi last week.
I’m not sure Crescent will have that luxury in Saturday’s game against a deep group of Rangers.
Should be a fun atmosphere with the Quilcene Fair and Parade taking place Saturday along with the game.
• Prediction: Quilcene 46, Crescent 26
Port Townsend vs. Kingston
PORT TOWNSEND — This game was played late Thursday due to the Wooden Boat Festival this weekend.
• Prediction: Port Townsend 20, Kingston 18
• Last Week: A rough 4-3 start matched the level of play for many teams whose preseason practices were impacted by wildfire smoke. Hopefully, my picks are a little more dialed-in this week.
• Season to date: 4-3.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]