Halfway through the regular season, Prosser football is right where it wants to be — unbeaten in the CWAC, ranked eighth in the Class 2A state poll with its lone loss to CBBN-leading Sunnyside in the season opener.
Except, well, the Mustangs aren't close to where they want to be.
Heading into Friday's trip to Ellensburg, also unbeaten in the CWAC, Prosser has played only three games and just once — at substantially less than full strength — in the last month.
"We've definitely had a lot more practice than film review, that's for sure," said Prosser coach Corey Ingvalson. "We've tried to keep things as normal as possible Monday through Thursday and then see where we are on Friday with kids, maybe a scrimmage or some other stuff against ourselves. It's been challenging to say the least."
After playing Sunnyside and Zillah, Prosser's league opener at Selah was postponed to Week 10 for COVID protocols. A week later the Mustangs were able to host Grandview but only suited up 35 players and were without their top two quarterbacks, among others, and scratched out a 21-3 victory.
Then last week, when Prosser was finally healthy and up to speed it had a bye. School officials tried in vain to find an opponent but a couple possibilities fell through.
"We were really just grinding through the Grandview week, getting guys back that Wednesday, then Thursday and then game day," Ingvalson said. "All things considered the last two weeks have been pretty good and practices have been good. We're just excited this week to play."
Ellensburg, at 2-0 in league with wins over Ephrata and Selah, has had its own COVID issues. The Bulldogs didn't play last week either with its game at Grandview also postponed to Week 10.
"I think this fall has been more challenging than last winter and spring," Ingvalson added. "Not knowing day to day and keeping the total numbers up, it's a definitely unique challenge. Everybody's facing it and doing the best they can."
When the original schedule was built, the CWAC and the GSL's six 2A teams left Week 10 open for possible postponements and/or regional crossovers. Each of the leagues has two state berths and will meet next week to decide if crossovers will be used to determine the eastside's four playoff qualifiers.
COVID is making its first impact on the CBBN schedule this week with Wenatchee unable to make Friday's trip to Yakima to face Davis.
Sunnyside and Eastmont, both 2-0 in league, will look to keep pace with each other on Friday when the Grizzlies host Eisenhower and the Wildcats host Moses Lake. The CBBN has two state berths as well.
West Valley, which like Prosser could really use a game after having its first two dates canceled, has the same empty feeling of a bye that the Mustangs had last week.
In the SCAC West, Naches Valley (0-0, 3-1) has a huge league opener at 10th-ranked Zillah (1-0, 3-1) on Friday. With Toppenish (1-0, 5-0) in the mix, everyone will be trying to avoid third place because, while that's good enough to be in the running for one of the SCAC's three state berths, it would likely mean a trip to top-ranked Royal in the Week 10 crossover round.
The EWAC has the same format as the SCAC, using the Week 10 crossovers to determine its three state qualifiers for the 2B playoffs. The game of the week in the West is Cle Elum (1-0, 3-2) at 10th-ranked Goldendale (1-0, 4-1).
It may be a nonleague crossover in SCAC football, but Toppenish's trip to Connell on Friday has all sorts of juicy storylines.
The Wildcats have risen to No. 3 in the 1A state poll at 5-0 while Connell, at 2-1, defeated College Place 56-14 last week after missing two games for COVID reasons. Six months ago, Toppenish wrapped up a 5-0 spring season with a 26-20 win at Connell in double overtime.
It's been 60 years since Toppenish started a season 6-0, dating back to a 9-0 season in 1961 when the Wildcats finished fourth in the AA state poll.
In 1990 and 1991, Toppenish started 5-0 but lost in Week 6 — both times to Connell. In the program's 1989 state championship season, the Wildcats had a league loss at Goldendale in Week 5.
Ready to go fast
Kate Laurent put in her time on the hills and terraces of Franklin Park last week, now she's ready for a speed course and shot at a career best for 5,000 meters.
That opportunity will come at the 39th Hole in the Wall Invitational at Lakewood High School near Arlington on Saturday. Laurent knows it's fast because she ran her 5K best of 18:33 there as a sophomore.
Ellensburg's two fastest 5Ks for girls in school history both came at Hole in the Wall — Uhuru Hashimoto's 17:50 in 2017 and Leah Holmgren's 17:58 two years ago.
"I'm so excited because it's my favorite course of all-time," Laurent said after winning Sunfair. "I think everyone feels that way, it's a fun atmosphere and a really fast course."
Selah's Cooper Quigley will also be competing and likely to lower his 5K best of 15:06 set two weeks ago. Eisenhower's Jonas Price owns the boys course record set in 2019 of 14:49, which was his high school best.
Pack without a pack
West Valley's top three boys at Saturday's Sunfair Invitational were separated by hours with the meet's individual flight format, but the Rams still ran like a pack.
And a very tight one.
Senior Nathan Ditto turned in WV's top time of 16:54 while competing in the seventh and final flight, but sophomore Caden Casteel (16:55) and junior Emil Miller (16:56) were right on his heels, in terms of time that is. Miller ran in the third flight — two hours before Ditto's flight. The Rams' bunch effort went four-deep, actually, with junior Max Hutton checking in at 17:02 in the fifth flight.
West Valley is ranked No. 10 in this week's state poll, just behind No. 8 Eisenhower and No. 9 Wenatchee. It's going to be quite a battle for the two state berths at the CBBN district meet, slated for Oct. 28 at Wenatchee's Walla Walla Point Park. Same goes for the girls with those same three schools.
No fans at state swim
Based on the King County Aquatic Center's COVID guidelines, the WIAA announced this week that fans will not be allowed for the Class 4A, 3A and 2A-1A state swimming and diving championships on Nov. 12-13.
The KCAC has a limit on the total number of individuals allowed in the facility and with three meets and 16 entries per event the WIAA is holding attendance to only participants, coaches, officials and essential staff.
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