There are plenty of good football players among the Mid-Columbia’s Class 4A and 3A teams, and lot of them were recently mentioned in the Herald.
But what about the smaller levels?
The answer is yes. From Prosser to River View to Royal and Liberty Christian, this area is loaded with football talent once again.
Here’s a look at some of the best athletes to keep an eye on — from 1B to 2A — as the season opens this week:
Cole Alexander, Liberty Christian. He was a first-team offensive lineman last season for the 1B Patriots in 8-man football.
Lance Allred, Royal. The junior was a standout defensive last season for the 1A state champions. He was also a talented receiver. He was a first-team all-SCAC player at both positions. Now he steps in as quarterback to see if Royal can win a fourth consecutive state title.
Charlie Branning, Liberty Christian. Patriots standout was named first-team all-conference at defensive back for the 8-man Southeast 1B league last season.
Cody Brown, River View. The track star can also cover wide receivers as well as catch the ball himself. Last season as a junior, Brown was first-team All-EWAC East at defensive back, and second team at wide receiver. This year, he moves to tight end and middle linebacker.
Emmanuel Chavez, Connell. Comes back this season as leader of the Eagles’ offensive line. Was a first-team All-SCAC East selection last season as a junior.
Case Christensen, Royal. Teamed last season with Allred to dominate in the defensive secondary, where he was first-team All-SCAC East as a junior.
Hyatt Clark, River View. Was the Panthers’ all-conference kicker last year. Now he’ll also run the offense at quarterback.
Nate Clinton, River View. A major reason that the Panthers dominated last season was because of Clinton, who controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. He was a first teamer at both OL and DL.
Jackson Forsyth, Connell. One of three Eagles standouts on this list, the senior was first-team 1A SCAC East at both running back and defensive lineman.
EJ Hurtado, Prosser. Last season he was a two-way, first-team, All-CWAC star as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Elijah Kinsey, Columbia-Burbank. Was a first-team 2B EWAC East running back last season for the Coyotes.
Jacob Marks, Prosser. One of the leaders of the Mustangs’ offensive line, a first-team all-CWAC player last year.
Kory McClure, Prosser. Great arm. The Mustangs quarterback set all kinds of passing yards last season as a junior. Now the senior is set to do even more damage. Great basketball player too.
Juan Morales, Royal. All-conference player returns to anchor the Knights’ offensive line.
Mason Perez, Othello. He’s a two-way star on the offensive and defensive line (first-team All-CWAC last season as a sophomore). One of the reasons pundits around the state believe Othello could make a deep run in the postseason.
Kellen Riner, Connell. Last season as a junior, he was named to the 1A SCAC East’s first team as a wide receiver and defensive back. Expect more of the same this season.
Ethan Seeliger, Tri-Cities Prep. If ever a player meant more to his team, I’d like to meet him. Seeliger was an EWAC East all-star as an offensive lineman, defensive lineman and a punter last season for the Jaguars.
Tyler Sloan, Columbia-Burbank. Last season, as a freshman, was first-team All-EWAC East as an offensive lineman. He made the second team as a defensive lineman.
Two games open the season Thursday night around here, and they’re both Mid-Columbia Conference contests.
Hermiston will visit Hanford, while Pasco is at Kennewick. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.
The Hanford game will be played at Hanford High School, rather than Fran Rish Stadium. The Falcons are gradually moving their home games to the north Richland campus. The facility is relatively new, just a few years old, and is beautiful.
Hanford’s co-coaches, James Beck and Ryan Harvey, boast standout receiver Preston Bryant.
Meanwhile, this is the season Hermiston coach David Faaeteete has been aiming for, as his experienced team — especially his skill players such as quarterback Isaac Corey and receiver Landon Shilhanek — continues to get better.
Meanwhile, Pasco coach Leon Wright-Jackson brings his young Bulldogs into Lampson Stadium to face what should be another tough Kennewick squad.
Linebacker Damian Tavares and kicker Joel Valle were honorable mention All-MCC last season for Pasco.
Meanwhile, Randy Affholter’s Lions boast two players bound for the University of Idaho in offensive lineman Nathan Knapik and defensive lineman Dylin McIntyre. Expect a big season from junior running back Alex Roberts.
We’ll take a look at the rest of the weekend openers tomorrow.
Burbank loses three standouts
The Columbia-Burbank football team has lost three of its weapons it had in 2022 before the season has even started.
Senior Shaunathan Wilder announced last week he’s transferred this fall to play at North Bend High School in Oregon.
Last season, Wilder was named first-team All-South Central Athletic Conference East as a wide receiver while a junior.
Meanwhile Tristan Frimodt and Quincy Scott are talented basketball players, and there is no doubt that sport is what they’ll be playing at the next level.
So the two junior decided not to turn out for football and instead play fall basketball.
Both were all-conference football players last season as sophomores.
Other non-football matchups
In MCC girls soccer, there is already a monster matchup to start the season.
Kamiakin visits Richland at 1 p.m. Saturday as conference play gets going immediately.
Both teams should be among the best, along with Chiawana, this season.
Meanwhile, next Tuesday, Sept. 7, Chiawana visits Kamiakin at 7 p.m. to get the volleyball season going. Both squads, along with Richland, should be near the top of the MCC standings this fall.
Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Tri-City Herald.