YAKIMA, Wash. — Even for a program known for its fertile production of quarterbacks, the unfolding story of Kaiden Rivera at Prosser this fall is remarkable.
Or as coach Corey Ingvalson sees it, unique.
Forced to hit the brakes on their Haden Hicks-offense in the first game when the versatile senior suffered a season-ending injury, the Mustangs went to Plan B: A sophomore who last started a game at quarterback in grade school.
"We really didn't know what we had since most of Kaiden's experience as a freshman was as a wide receiver," Ingvalson said. "We taylored things for Haden to move the pocket more, get out on the edge and use his skills. With Kaiden we were hoping to get him a full season as JV quarterback and get him ready for next year."
Change of plans.
Pressed into service on opening night, Rivera finished out a loss to Sunnyside and then took the helm fully in a 36-7 loss at West Valley. And while the offense produced only one score that night, it was clear Ingvalson and his staff had quickly discovered Rivera was up to the task. In his first start, he threw 50 passes.
"That weekend after we lost Haden the receivers got together with Kaiden to run routes and start working together," Ingvalson noted. "Afterward the seniors said, hey coach, we think we've got something here. We went back to a more drop-back style and just went full-bore with Kaiden right away. It's amazing how quickly he's jumped in."
The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Rivera jumped in alright, having thrown for 1,146 yards in his first four starts. In last week's win at Grandview, he completed 28 of 40 passes for 440 yards — a single-game Valley record for a sophomore and only nine yards from Jordan Durbin's school record.
"He's got a great arm and an ability to find open grass," Ingvalson said. "It's been really fun watching him soak things up and come to work every day. I won't lie about it, we didn't know how this would go. To have Haden go down in week one, now we go with a sophomore who's barely played the position — we sort of held our breath. It's truly unique situation."
With the likelihood of Wapato and Toppenish — and possibly Quincy — headed down to 1A with the impending free-reduced lunch allowance, the 10-team CWAC is getting nervous about its future with state allocations and its crossover relationship with the Great Northern League.
News from the far east of the eastside this week won't calm those nerves.
With the expected rise of Cheney from 2A to 3A, the Great Northern is looking at joining the 4A-3A Greater Spokane League to form a 2A division.
It makes sense because the four remaining GNL schools — East Valley, West Valley, Pullman and Clarkston — could be joined by several Spokane schools that might drop down from 3A with the socioeconomic allowance. They include Shadle Park, Rogers and North Central.
Moreover, Deer Park could be on the move up from 1A to 2A. If all this plays out, the number of 2A schools in the Spokane region could jump from five to eight while the CWAC is looking at contracting from 10 to seven.
Bigger the better
For his final Saturday invite before the wind up to state, Jonas Price and the Eisenhower Cadets are breaking with their past and heading west.
Instead of the 37-team Richland meet, which Price won last year, Ike is opting for a monster — the 124-team 36th annual Nike Hole in the Wall meet at Lakewood High School in Arlington.
The course record for the flat and fast 5,000-meter layout was set last year in 14:57. Ellensburg and Idaho commit Leah Holmgren will also make the trip.
Looking back at Sunfair, where Price won in 14:56 and tied his dad's best mark from 1984: Robert owns the family tiebreaker since his 14:56 came during his junior year.
All these years later it remains something of a mystery to Robert why he didn't improve on that as a senior, other than to say "I flaked out."
Big tests loom for Dawgs
After six matches without dropping a set, Ellensburg's volleyball team has a big trip west on Saturday followed by a visit to Quincy for a clash of CWAC unbeatens on Tuesday.
Saturday's Burlington-Edison Invitational will be a nice preview of the 2A state tournament with six teams at or near the top of their leagues — Lynden (5-1 NWC), Fife (6-1 SPSL West), Steilacoom (7-0 SPSL West), Washington (7-0 SPSL East), Ellensburg (5-0 CWAC) and the host Tigers (6-0 NWC).
Also in the field will be reigning 1A state champion Lynden Christian.
From the note file
• West Valley's Devin Duthie, an all-CBBN goalkeeper as a freshman and sophomore, leads the league in punt average this fall at 37.5 yards (21-787). He also booted a pair of field goals in last Friday's overtime game against Eastmont.
• Selah grad Dac Archer, the CWAC's co-MVP in 2017, is moving on collegiately from Bellevue Community College to Radford, an NCAA Div. I program in Virginia that plays in the Big South Conference.
• La Salle's fourth-ranked football team will step away from SCAC West play on Friday to host 2A North Mason, which started 2-0 but has since given up 125 points in three straight losses. The Lightning host No. 3 Zillah next week.
• Selah senior Jade Larabee has received the WIAA's latest 2A girls athlete of the week award. The Vikings setter and team captain put together 59 assists, 15 digs, 11 aces and nine kills in two CWAC wins.
• White Swan (2-0, 3-1) will try to keep pace at the top of EWAC football when it hosts Mabton (1-2, 3-2) on Friday. Mabton has already played the other two front-runners — Tri-Cities Prep and Burbank — while White Swan has yet to face them.
• If you didn't feel it already with nighttime temps in the 20s, winter has definitely arrived. Three Greater Spokane League cross country meets were postponed Wednesday because of snow.
• Reach Scott Spruill at email@example.com and on twitter at @ScottSpruill