YAKIMA, Wash. — With its playable roster down to 25, Wapato football has endured some lean times this fall. Low numbers have a huge impact on Friday nights, especially at the 2A level, and fifth-year coach Skip Gurtler continues to confront that reality the best he can.
But even in the midst of a 1-7 season, the Wolves have an encouraging source of pride is seeing Michael Martinez at the top of our local CWAC scoring leaders with 14 touchdowns.
Having spent time at quarterback, wide receiver and running back, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior has had a hand in 17 of Wapato’s 19 touchdowns and accumulated over 1,500 yards whether with his legs, hands or arm.
“From the first to last whistle, he plays his butt off,” Gurtler said. “He’s a good student, he’s coachable and he always plays hard.”
Martinez, also a strong safety who has a pick-six among his 14 touchdowns, has played musical chairs on offense partly because of injuries on the Wolves’ dwindling roster and partly because, at times, he tries to do too much.
“He’s so athletic and he always wants to make a big play,” said Gurtler, who has Martinez at shortstop on his baseball team in the spring. “Sometimes that’s good because he’s our best player, but sometimes it’s not the right decision for the team. He’s a great kid and a captain, but sometimes that issue comes up because he wants to be the guy so much.”
Wapato hosts Quincy on Friday for Senior Night — only five players will represent that class — and then concludes its season at Cle Elum on Nov. 8. The Wolves will have played Wahluke, Cashmere, Highland and Cle Elum this season as a precursor to moving down to 1A next fall on the socioeconomic allowance.
Until then, props to Martinez and his teammates for hanging in there and grinding it out. Keep aiming for the end zone.
Own the city
With a bye in Week 10, West Valley’s football season will come to end Friday night and the Rams have their sights set squarely on one thing — a title within a title.
With Eisenhower visiting Clasen Field on Senior Night, West Valley’s objective will be to sweep Eisenhower and Davis for the third straight year and claim the Yakima slice of the CBBN title.
The Cadets, of course, will be trying to claim that prize for themselves with the Davis rivalry set to resume next week in the season finale.
West Valley has averaged 51.6 points during its five-game win streak over Yakima opponents, and Friday’s clash is leaning toward the kind of shootout we saw last week when the Rams bested Davis 52-34 in a three-hour game with 77 passes thrown.
I’m bringing extra hand warmers.
CBBN’s possible tiebreakerIn the wake of last week’s setback at Wenatchee, Sunnyside’s football team is faced with two scenarios to reach the state playoffs and one is a good deal easier than the other.
First things first: The Grizzlies, who played the first of three straight road games last week, need to win at Davis on Friday and at winless Moses Lake next Thursday to finish CBBN play at 5-1.
Given that, if Wenatchee dispatches Eastmont in their annual rivalry game next Thursday it’s done and dusted: Panthers No. 1 to state, Grizzlies No. 2.
But if Eastmont prevails, creating a three-team tie at 5-1, a tiebreaker to determine the two state qualifiers would be held Nov. 9 mostly likely at Moses Lake.
Saturday on the Ridge
Ellensburg’s top-ranked girls and a loaded boys race will be the featured attractions on Saturday when the CWAC and Great Northern League vie for state cross country berths at Apple Ridge Run.
The good news is there’s plenty of opportunity with the top four teams and top 28 individuals advancing to Sun Willows Golf Course next week.
Both of Ellensburg’s teams went 9-0 in CWAC duals and are favorites to sweep the district and regional titles. Selah is a good bet to finish second in both races with the GNL’s lone state-ranked squad being Pullman’s No. 9 boys.
Defending 2A state champion Eliason Kabasenche of Pullman should get considerable heat from two other seniors who placed in the top eight at state last year — Cheney’s Bas Holland and Selah’s Shea Mattson. Ellensburg’s Leah Holmgren is looking for a regional repeat.
The girls varsity race is set for 11:30 a.m. followed by the boys at 12:15 p.m.
Saturday’s CWAC district tripleheader at Grandview starts with two games that will decide who stays alive for the 2A state playoffs.
Selah (3-5) plays Othello (4-4) at 1 p.m. and East Valley (4-4) takes on Toppenish (5-3) at 4 with the winners moving on to state-qualifying crossovers with the GNL on Nov. 8.
Clarkston (7-1) will host one of those winners since the seventh-ranked Bantams have already clinched the GNL title. Pullman is in position to finish second, and thus earn a trip to the CWAC’s No. 3 seed, but the Greyhounds have to play at Cheney on Friday.
How Saturday’s two winners are seeded for the crossovers will be based on the following: 1, head to head; 2, common opponents; 3, MaxPreps ranking; 4, Fall number draw.
• The SCAC West’s fourth and final seed for the Nov. 8 crossovers will be decided when Goldendale visits Granger on Friday. That winner will earn a trip to top-ranked and unbeaten Royal, the only East team to lock in its seeding position so far. Connell (4-1) hosts River View (3-2) and Warden (2-3) hosts Kiona-Benton (3-2) on Friday to sort out 2-3-4.
From the note file
• West Valley’s girls swim team is the Class 4A state academic champion. Coach Jake Kessler’s squad carried a 3.838 grade-point average. The Rams will be in Moses Lake on Saturday for the CBBN district finals while the CWAC is in Pullman for its state-qualifying meet.
• Cle Elum senior Grace Jackson was named the WIAA’s Class 1A girls athlete of the week with six goals and four assists in her last three matches. Jackson has 33 goals and 29 assists for the season.
• Rollin Levon’s 346-yard rushing performance last Friday against Grandview took down Kregg Kappenman’s 40-year-old school record and ranks eighth all-time in the Valley for a single game.
• Nathan Sedgwick owns six of La Salle’s 14 interceptions and scored the defense’s fourth pick-six last week. ... Zillah’s Mason Landdeck scored his third kick-return touchdown last week, giving the Leopards seven TDs on special teams-defense.