OPINION: First games of season only reveal so much

Justin Damasiewicz is a former sports reporter. He contributes a weekly prep football column.

Most football fans know there is only so much you can glean from the first week of the season, especially during non-league competition.

Many coaches treat non-league contests as a pre-season game of sorts and are likely to utilize the time to work on areas of weakness while also trying to win.

For East County football fans, week 1 was a mix of expected and unexpected results. Montesano fans are likely hoping the Bulldogs’ rout of Aberdeen is a precursor to what will be yet another successful season, while Elma’s faithful are anticipating that their young team will learn from its mistakes and improve during the next several weeks before opening league play against state-ranked Hoquiam on October 7.


Montesano’s 54-20 win over Aberdeen was a great way to return to action after the Bulldogs’ run to the state semi-finals at the Tacoma Dome last season.

Carson Klinger is one of the few players on the current Bulldog roster who played a significant role on last year’s squad. As expected, Klinger returned as a crucial cog in Montesano’s offensive attack. The junior eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in the first half on Friday and scored two first-quarter touchdowns. Klinger is fast and athletic and poised to have a great season.

A pleasant surprise was the performance of senior back Nathan Olson, who twice scored on the ground from eight yards out. Olsen excelled in garbage time last season. Bulldog fans who payed close attention in the fourth quarter last year undoubtedly know who he is.

I could go on and on about individual players, but I would be remiss to not mention what was possibly the biggest story in Montesano football last week: the end of the blankets on the bleachers at Jack Rottle Field…well, sort of.

The school district announced that fans will no longer be able to reserve seats by taping blankets to the bleachers during the days leading up to the game. Blankets still can be placed starting at 8 a.m. on game day.

Honestly, Montesano fans. I’m one of you. Can we please just stop with the blanket “tradition,” which actually may or may not be a long-standing tradition at all, depending on who you ask.

This may make me kind of unpopular among the members of my own community, but if you are from a visiting school, please move someone’s blanket and take their seat. Duct taping a blanket to a spot on the bleachers does not technically entitle anyone to a seat and if enough of you disregard the blankets, the “tradition” may end altogether.

If you want a seat, get to the game early. I’m sorry if your schedule makes that difficult. Life’s tough. Get a helmet. There is plenty of space in the standing-room section.


The most significant storyline for Elma football in week 1 is only an on-the-field issue, only in the sense that it involves the field the Eagles play on.

Football returned to Davis Field for the first time since 2013. An uncovered set of bleachers now stands where the old grandstand once stood and Eagles fans were able to watch a home game that was actually played in their hometown.

The former grandstand was torn down prior to the 2014 season and the Eagles have been playing “home” games in Aberdeen, Montesano and Hoquiam ever since. The return of football to Davis Field is a significant moment for the community despite an Elma loss.

Ultimately, it would be nice for Elma to be able to pass a vote to fund the creation of a new multi-sport facility, but for the time being, at least the new bleachers brought football back to Davis Field.

As far as the game itself, Elma’s 35-8 loss to Eatonville was not the best way to start the season, but it also is not a cause for panic. The Eagles are young and inexperienced and will only get better as the season goes on.

Elma’s top three offensive skill players from last season’s squad all graduated — quarterback and quintessential captain Tristan Robinette, workhorse running back Cory Marsh and playmaking wideout Justin Spencer — and the Eagles are still working to fill those roles. Not to mention having a new head coach at the helm for the first time in more than 20 years.

In summation, I would just like to reiterate that if you are an Elma fan, don’t panic just yet; if you are a Monte fan, remain cautiously optimistic; and if you are a fan of any team that will be visiting Rottle Field, please help eliminate the blanket “tradition.”

We have a lot of football ahead of us.