A gridiron game for the ages?
Spotlight on Sports
Forget the World Series, folks. Friday's high school game in Port Angeles has created more interest on the Olympic Peninsula than baseball's biggest event.
The Sequim-Port Angeles gridiron contest has become bigger then the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Rose Bowl and BCS Championship Game combined.
Why? Because, fans, for the first time since the rivalry was renewed in 2004, the game has serious meaning for both teams.
It seems that every Sequim/P.A. game this season has had a playoff atmosphere. Crowds were loud and boisterous at last week's soccer game (P.A. won 5-3) and at the volleyball event (Sequim prevailed 3-0) and even at cross country when the action between Rider and Sequim runners at the cross country league championship was intense.
The series since 2004
In 2004 at a packed Civic Field in September, coach Erik Wiker trotted out his Wolves to take on the Riders of coach Dave Frissell.
Sequim's Brian Savage chewed up the Rider defense for 204 yards and a touchdown in a 37-6 romp.
In 2005, Sequim "hosted" the game in Port Angeles and the Wolves prevailed, 19-6, scoring twice in the last period on a 14-yard run by Eric Zangara, then on a 30-yard pass interception by Sean Dinius to put the game away with 4:05 left.
That was the first year for new Rider coach Matt Gracey and he took the Riders to the playoffs.
In 2006 the Riders won a 34-31 nail-biter before a huge Civic Field throng. Levi Fahrenholz scored on a pass from Stephen Walker with 26 seconds left to play, spoiling a big night for Zangara, who had 22 carries for 211 yards and three scores. He also caught three passes for 22 yards and a fourth score.
The two teams combined for 878 yards of offense. Sequim came back from 27-6 halftime deficit.
The Riders made it two in a row in 2007 when Eric Lane and James Madison led the Riders to a 27-20 win in the first meeting in
Sequim. The Rider coach was Keith Moorman.
Sequim has won the last two by large margins. It was 38-7 in Port Angeles in 2008 and 42-7 in Sequim last year. Moorman gave way to Dick Abrams last season.
This year's Sequim seniors are responsible for the last two lopsided wins over the Riders, who are on their fifth head coach since the series was resumed, while Sequim continues with Wiker as the head guru.
Rider coach Tom Wahl is at the helm now and he knows the meaning of this game, having been around the Rider program for the past nine years. He knows the rivalry, even at the frosh level where he has coached the last eight seasons.
The 2010 game
On paper, it's no contest Friday as the Wolves have been beating up on everyone in the league, while Port Angeles has struggled with some of the teams Sequim has blown away.
If you had asked when the season began, I would've said North Mason and Sequim to battle it out for the league crown, with Port Angeles somewhere near the bottom based on their 0-10 record from last year and Sequim's playoff team from last season.
The Wolves have that playoff experience. They beat Burlington-Edison 34-32 in a thriller, then lost to eventual state champion Lynden, 31-0.
Do the Riders have any chance Friday?
Forget comparative scores. Sequim has started so fast in all of their big wins that their first unit has only played about half of every game.
Sequim is averaging 48 points a game and giving up just 19.1 a game, but that figure is skewed by the fact Sequim has not revealed much offense late in games and has played reserved a lot in the final period.
Port Angeles is averaging 37 a game, giving up just 8.7. That is the best defense in the state.
Take one common opponent: Olympic.
Sequim won 63-8, P.A. beat the Trojans 55-25.
Sequim had 270 yards passing (18-of-27) and 275 rushing on 34 carries. Port Angeles had 130 yards passing (12-of-22) and 433 yards rushing on 39 carries.
Postseason at stake
Port Angeles has won nine straight games, Sequim lost only the one to Meridian and the Olympic League title is on the line.
Both teams are in the playoffs. The first round is set for Nov. 6 at North Kitsap. The winner of Friday's game plays South Puget Sound No. 4 seed at 7 p.m. while the loser of Friday's game plays SPSL's No. 3 seed at 4 p.m.
Sequim fans will feel right at home this week, as the Rider moguls have rounded up every portable bleacher in town so Sequim fans can root for their team on the east side of the field behind the Sequim bench. Dress in warm clothes.
Pick a winner? The late hoop guru Rick Kaps always accused me of having green and white blood since I'm a 1952 Rider alum. Coach Larry Hill believes that, too, even though I write a column in the Gazette.
There will be the usual two broadcasts of the game via KONP. Dan Kari will air his
Sequim broadcast on www.konp.com at 6:30 p.m. and I will be on KONP AM 1450, FM 102.1 and www.konp.com as well.
Since I never, ever wager on a game that I am broadcasting (learned that from many old and since gone broadcasters) I wish both teams a good game and will see both teams Nov. 6 at North Kitsap.
Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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