The News Tribune picks three South Sound football games every week to preview:
* SPSL SOUTH
Curtis (6-1) at Rogers (4-3)
7 p.m. Friday at Sparks Stadium, Puyallup
About the Vikings: Things are being fine-tuned around University Place. Led by ILB Calvin McClain, the Curtis rushing defense continues to lead the SPSL (91.4 yards per game) – and will need to monitor Rogers QB Stefan Van Horn as a runner. RB EJ Deveaux (140 carries, 865 yards, seven TDs) is expected to play despite a sore ankle.
About the Rams: Don’t let the record fool you – their losses are to top-10 teams Federal Way, Graham-Kapowsin and Kentwood. Loaded with experienced and fast skill-position players, they have held up great on the perimeter. Rogers’ challenge is plugging the rugged middle to contain Deveaux. Division’s No. 3 spot up for grabs tonight.
* NARROWS 3A
No. 6 Timberline at No. 9 North Thurston
7 p.m. Friday at South Sound Stadium, Lacey
About the Blazers: Yes, Timberline is smaller up front, but with MLB Brandon Wetzel (67 tackles, nine TFL) and DE Stone Hart leading the way, the Blazers are rarely outflanked or out of position to defend the run. Sophomore QB Gabe Gutierrez (broken arm) is out indefinitely, so this offense belongs to 2011 starter Chris MacNeil, a senior.
About the Rams: They will try and pound away at the middle of the Blazers’ defense with RB Mo Manning (103 carries, 515 yards, 14 TDs) and Brandon Belisario (508 yards, three TDs). Yet, Timberline’s counter and trap runs have given North Thurston’s defense trouble in recent years. Winner is in driver’s seat for league title.
Eatonville (6-1) at No. 4 Cascade Christian (6-1)
7 p.m. Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium, Sumner
About the Cruisers: Winner Saturday night is the Nisqually League Division I champion. And even though Eatonville has lost five games in a row in the series (2005-09), this team is quietly confident, intelligent and extremely versatile, led by QB Zach Fairhart (36-of-77, 740 yards, 15 TDs), who can get the offense in many different formations in the blink of an eye.
About the Cougars: Was last week’s 28-0 pasting of Cedar Park Christian a coming-of-age moment? Coach Randy Davis and his staff simplified the defensive approach to focus on run-game tendencies. It worked for ILBs Mason Tobeck and Hunter Austin, and OLBs Riley Ramos and Alex Bostwick, who were lights-out in containment.