PATEROS — Halfway through the season, the Entiat and Pateros football teams will square off tonight in what could be a decisive game when it comes to the Central Washington B League’s crossover tournament in November.
The Tigers and Billygoats are vying for the third seed in the 1B division so they don’t have to face first place Wilbur-Creston (both teams lost by 30 points to the Wildcats earlier in the season).
Coaches Brian Bailey of Entiat and Marcus Stennes of Pateros recognize the improvements in their opponents after watching game film.
“Pateros scores through the air,” Bailey said. “(Mikey) Piechalski is probably the top quarterback in our league from a throwing standpoint.”
Entiat quarterback Trang Tran is no slouch himself, however; he’s throwing for touchdowns every week and rushing into the end zone as well. Tran is part of Entiat’s small and quick offense that bested Pateros in the teams’ first meeting in September.
For Bailey the match-up will come down to Pateros’ “bigger, physical” makeup and Entiat’s “smaller, quicker” team.
“We’re that way with our running game and our speed,” Bailey said. “We’re a quick-strike team in a different way than Pateros. Our speed and the pace of our offense can hurt them a bit. We’re a speedy, hurry-up, no-huddle offense.”
But Entiat’s improved weapon is defense.
“The first time we played Pateros we played poorly,” Bailey said. “We tweaked things — we started working on tackling fundamentals. Against Wilbur-Creston, we realized we have to be a better defensive team.”
Entiat (4-2, 2-2 CWB) averages 44.5 points per game and has relied on that quick offense to take it this far.
“Offensively, we’re a team with multiple weapons,” Bailey said. “Our offensive line has gotten better each week. Daylon Harn is our biggest, most physical receiver, and teams try to double-cover him. Alex Delgado at linebacker has been a huge difference-maker the last four weeks.”
Even with Tran running a spread option offense, Entiat has a backup. Alberto Quezada makes for a dual threat.
“A lot of teams try to run what we do, but they don’t have a backup that can also step in and run it,” Bailey said. “Quezada makes good plays at quarterback when he’s had to.”
Quezada stepped in to help the Tigers win close games against Waterville (22-18) and Republic (42-36) earlier in the season.
Pateros (1-3, 0-2 CWB) averages 41.5 points per game and Piechalski, a dead-eye at quarterback, keeps getting better.
“At Wilbur, his passes were on the money,” Stennes said. “He was reading the defense on the read options and making smart decisions.”
Piechalski showed no sign of slowing down against the Wildcats last week.
“It was almost a perfect game for him,” Stennes said. “(Our players are) getting more experience. We’ve had a tough schedule. We’ve gone to Wilbur. We lost to Odessa (second place, 3-0, 2-0 CWB) by a touchdown.”
Turning the ball over has proven to be fatal for Pateros.
“For us it’s going to come down to limiting our turnovers,” Stennes said. “It’s anybody’s night, really, especially in this league.”
These teams will be fighting for third place for the remaining four weeks.
“(Pateros is) our biggest challenge left on the plate,” Bailey said.
“It should be a good game,” Stennes said. “(It’s) going to be a shootout.”