FORKS — A town, a team, a dream.
The season kicks off tonight for prep football teams on the North Olympic Peninsula all of them in pursuit of success and a little glory in front of the hometown faithful.
That’s also the simple premise of the nonfiction book “Friday Night Lights” by H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger.
A chronicle of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team (Odessa, Texas), the 1990 book spawned a hit movie in 2004 and a beloved television show, both of the same name.
The book covers much more than the on-field exploits of (at the time) the winningest program in Texas history. Bissinger discusses the West Texas oil town’s boom-bust economy, a long history of racial segregation, its class divide, politics in the scope of the 1988 presidential campaign and the fanbase’s rabid devotion to the team’s MOJO motto.
This includes selling out a 20,000-seat stadium and sticking “For Sale” signs in the yard of the head coach after rare losses.
Odessa citizens largely chafed at how the city and fans were portrayed in the book but the work has stood the test of time and it was fourth in a 2002 Sports Illustrated list of the best sports books.
Prep sports aren’t nearly as life and death up here, but the book is worth a read as football gets underway, as the school spirit garb is donned and fans make the trek to high school fields from Forks to Quilcene.
And don’t forget that seat cushion for the bleachers — you’ll need it.
Port Angeles at Forks
FORKS — Nice to see this old-school Olympic League matchup (and Forks’ next two games against Sequim and Port Townsend) back on the football schedule.
It makes total sense for the Spartans to stick around and play Peninsula teams, according to Forks coach Emil West.
“Kids growing up here in Forks and the rivals are Port Angeles and Sequim. And once you get to high school you don’t play them and it doesn’t make sense to me,” West said.
“So the kids know each other and you wonder how you can play against those guys. We see them in scrimmages and I’m so thrilled to have [Port Angeles] as the first game of the season. It’s a really meaningful game against the closest big city.”
West said he’d love to see a “King of the Peninsula” trophy for the team that boasts the best record against area rivals.
Tonight’s winner will take a step forward in that regard and gain bragging rights with a win.
• Prediction: Forks 29, Port Angeles 14
Sequim at Washington
TACOMA — The Wolves visit their former Nisqually League foes in a nonleague opener at Franklin Pierce High School.
The team’s haven’t met since 2009, but Sequim has an 8-6 advantage in head-to-head matchups, including the last five meetings.
Wolves coach Erik Wiker is five wins away from breaking the century mark with Sequim.
• Prediction: Sequim 22, Washington 19
Coupeville at Port Townsend
PORT TOWNSEND — A non-league tilt now with the Whidbey Island Wolves ditching the Olympic League 1A for the new North Sound Conference.
Redhawks running back Dylan Tracer had a field day against Coupeville last season, piling up 218 yards and two TDs on 34 carries.
Port Townsend figures to be even more run-based in its offensive attack with a switch to the flexbone under new head coach Patrick Gaffney, so if the blocking is there up front, look for the Redhawks to rack up a win.
• Prediction: Port Townsend 26, Coupeville 6
Chimacum vs. Cedar Park Christian
KIRKLAND — The Cowboys made definite strides last season, posting a 4-6 record after going winless in 2016.
First-year head coach Chris Storm coached many of the players on his roster in youth football and was a Cowboys assistant last season, so there should be continuity going forward.
But Storm and the Cowboys will face an Eagles team coached by Butch Goncharoff, he of the 11 Class 3A state football championships in 16 seasons from 2001-16 at Bellevue.
This game will be played at Lake Washington High School.
• Prediction: Cedar Park Christian 30, Chimacum 14
Crescent at Chief Leschi
PUYALLUP — The Loggers open against the 2B Warriors on the road tonight.
Chief Leschi went 0-9 last season, but Crescent is young and light on numbers this fall.
• Prediction: Chief Leschi 24, Crescent 12
Saturday Mary M. Knight at Quilcene
QUILCENE — The Rangers got some love from state football coaches in the Tacoma News Tribune’s preseason coaches poll — a No. 10 ranking in Class 1B.
• Prediction: Quilcene 40, Mary M. Knight 14
Neah Bay at Morton-White Pass
MORTON — A combo platter of a nonleague game between the 1B Red Devils and the 2B Timberwolves.
Neah Bay will play eight-man when on offense while Morton-White Pass will play its usual 11-man football when the Timberwolves have the ball.
It’s the third straight season the teams will meet.
“They treated us so well last year. The [Makah] tribe just rolled out the red carpet for us and it was a great experience for the kids so we wanted to make sure to keep that relationship renewed,” Morton-White Pass coach Lee Metcalf told The Chronicle (Centralia).
• Prediction: Neah Bay 22, Morton-White Pass 20
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]