Columbia High Host Goldendale Aug. 31

Senior Trenton Howard, no. 15, will be returning kicks and playing cornerback for CHS again in 2018. (Sverre Bakke photos)

The 2018 high school fall sports season in Klickitat County gets underway on Aug. 31 for the second year in a row with a non-league football game in Columbia High’s Bruin Stadium.

The Bruins, under new head coach Dan Smith, will be hosting their season and home opener against the Goldendale Timberwolves in their annual Klickitat County Cup contest on Friday. Kick off is at 7 p.m.

Columbia High has won the last three games in the intra-county series, including 47-0 in 2017, and four of the last five. The Bruins lead the series, which renewed in 2003, 8-7.

The Bruins finished 4-4 overall last season and 1-3 in the 1A Trico League in John Hallead’s final season. A 23-21 loss to Stevenson on the final weekend of the regular season knocked Columbia out of the running for another Southwest District playoff berth.

Smith, a longtime CHS assistant, was hired late last winter to replace Hallead, who resigned after six seasons. Not much about the Bruins’ approach to football, however, is changing under Smith, whose team synopsis appears on Page 4.

The Bruins will continue to pound the ball with a single running back lined up next to the quarterback in shotgun formation. They will emphasize their kickoff and punt return games as complements to their offensive package. They will focus on big-play prevention on defense and kick coverages.

Columbia’s schedule is similar to its 2017 slate. The Bruins will play four non-league games ahead of the start of Trico play on Sept. 28.

CHS’s last three non-league games are at 2B Ilwaco and Montesano, the big cheese in the Southwest District’s 1A Evergreen League, and at home versus Hoquiam of the Evergreen.

The Bruins kick off Trico play on the road on Sept. 28 at Castle Rock. This year’s homecoming game is on Oct. 19, against La Center. CHS closes out the regular season on Oct. 26 at Columbia Gorge rival Stevenson.

La Center has been the team to beat in the Trico the last several seasons and is again the team wearing the bulls-eye. The Wildcats always have talent on both sides of scrimmage, so they reload rather rebuild year to year, while the rest of the teams in the Trico go through cycles: up one year, down the next.

Last year, La Center, Castle Rock, and Stevenson clinched the league’s three district playoff berths, though only La Center, as Trico champion, had a guaranteed spot in the state tournament.

The Wildcats made it to the semifinal round, where they lost to Meridian, 34-14. Castle Rock and Stevenson lost their district matchups to Hoquiam and Montesano, respectively.

Trico team matchups for Week 1 of the 2018 season are Aug. 31, Steven-son vs. Sullivan Heights HS of Surrey, B.C.; Aug. 31, King’s Way vs. Elma; Aug. 31, La Center at Ridgefield; Aug. 31, Castle Rock vs. Hoquiam; and Sept. 1, Seton Prep vs. Fort Vancouver.

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