1. Hoquiam Grizzlies (10-1)
Hoquiam rebounded quickly from a relatively down 2017 with a huge 2018, unseating the Bulldogs for dominance in the 1A Evergreen Conference. However, the Grizzlies have a lot to replace. League MVP Payton Quintanilla is no longer under center. Caleb Larsen is no longer blocking. Jackson Folkers is no longer covering. But the cupboard isn’t left totally bare. Pass-catcher Dane McMillan is back and is only a junior. Matt Brown is back on defense for his senior season. Does Hoqiuam have enough to repeat as league champs and better a quarterfinal appearance from a year ago?
2. Montesano Bulldogs (8-3 in 2018)
The Bulldogs were in great position to hold on for another league title, but consecutive losses to Woodland to finish its nonleague slate and a league-opening loss to Hoquiam weren’t ideal, either. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs still advanced to the first round of the state playoffs. The thing is, though, Montesano lost much of its core. All but three of Montesano’s first-team performers have graduated, with just Brent Hollatz (junior LB), Sam Winter (junior DB) and Tanner Nicklas (junior P) back. The Oct. 18 meeting between the Grizzlies and the Bulldogs looms large.
3. Elma Eagles (8-3)
The Eagles, though, will certainly have something to say about the 1A Evergreen Conference. Also a Round of 16 participant, Elma lost just two all-league players: first-team lineman Jesus Torres and versatile honorable-mention Carter Jacobson. Just about everyone else for the Eagles is back, and with both its league losses coming to Hoquiam and Montesano by a combined seven points, the Eagles must feel like they can take flight and rest atop the league.
4. Forks Spartans (5-4)
The Spartans have some holes to fill. That’s totally normal in high school football, but especially gutting for Forks. It had first-team players at six different positions, but all were seniors and all are unavailable this season. Perhaps the biggest holes are Brett Moody and Tristan Pisani, two parts of a decent offense from 2018. If Forks can reverse its road woes from a year ago (just 1-3 away from home) then it could find itself in the playoffs again. Forks hosts both Montesano and Elma, but has to visit Hoquiam.
5. Tenino Beavers (1-9)
Tenino’s black turf is still new and interesting, and it’s hoping its football team can match that enthusiasm. The Beavers, though, are loaded with freshmen at nearly every position, suggesting their roster still is largely unknown. Paxton Russell is back for his senior season after a first-team campaign as a junior, as are Robert Marti (first team OL) and honorable mentions Anthony Levi, Takari Hickle and Shawn Nicholson. Among the group, only Russell is a senior. Tenino is quietly building some young talent.
— Sam Barbee, The Daily News