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Monday, February 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Summer may not be officially done, but it basically is as football takes over

West Valley quarterback Matthew Allen throws a long pass to JW Barker  on  Thursday at  Albi Stadium. The West Valley Eagles beat the North Central Indians 49-0. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)
West Valley quarterback Matthew Allen throws a long pass to JW Barker on Thursday at Albi Stadium. The West Valley Eagles beat the North Central Indians 49-0. (Libby Kamrowski / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s still August, isn’t it? For a few more hours at least. But yet high school football is in full-go mode. It’s not something that’s easy to get used to. Neither is the Seahawks losing all of their preseason games. It has never happened before. Read on.


• You probably won’t believe it, but even I was once a high school student. OK, student is used loosely in this context but the point is I was young once. And high school football was one of those things that heralded the arrival of September, like Labor Day and my sister’s birthday. 

August was reserved for long days at the lake or getting lost in the mountains. It was about mowing the lawn and, yes, football. But just getting ready for the season. Not playing games.

Like every sport, however, there has been season-creep. Look how early college basketball season begins. Or how late the World Series is. It’s no wonder we are asking our high school athletes to give up even more of their summer – the one time of the year when it really pays to be a kid – to America’s fall sport of choice.

Heck, many Idaho high schools will have two games under their belt before the calendar flips to September – or before they start school.

Yes, things change. Summer for high school athletes isn’t about lying in the grass and counting clouds anymore – if it ever was. It’s about lifting and games and workouts. It’s shorter than ever. 

And football hits earlier.

• It certainly has hit the Seahawks. Sure, preseason games don’t matter in the sense the regular season record don’t reflect them. But they do matter in a lot of ways.

Not the least of these is setting a tone for the upcoming season. The tone Seattle has set is one of losing.

Oh sure, a team can go 4-0 and be terrible. The best example of that is the 2008 Detroit Lions, who won every preseason game and then lost every regular season one. Yes, they were 0-16. The same thing happened to the Browns last year. 

Flipping the coin, going 0-4 doesn’t ensure a losing season either. There are multiple examples of teams finishing the preseason without a win and then doing well, the most recent of which is the 2014 Cowboys, who finished 12-4. 

But it’s more common for losing preseason records to translate into a tough regular season. And those who don’t win a single preseason game, a club the Hawks joined last night with their 30-19 home loss to the Raiders, have done even worse. 

Over the years, only about 13 percent of the teams that lost every preseason game have made the playoffs.

That doesn’t bode well for Seattle. 


WSU: It’s time to enter the Wayback Machine as the Cougars leave for their opener at Wyoming. Our pilot is Theo Lawson, who journeyed back in time with Mike Leach to examine the 1976 Wyoming AA State title game. … Theo also spent some time on the phone with former Cougar coach, and Wyoming player, Jim Walden for this Q&A. … Next week’s opponent in the home opener, San Jose State, lost to FCS foe UC Davis last night. The Spartans also saw their starting quarterback announce he’s transferring a couple days before the game. … The Times’ Scott Hanson takes a look at how the Cougars are dealing with Tyler Hilinski’s death.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the season began last night with Utah spotting Weber State an early lead and then roaring back for a 41-10 win. The Utes played well except for four turnovers. … Washington is not only playing for itself against Auburn, but seems to be carrying the entire Pac-12 on its shoulders. … Oregon’s Justin Herbert has more targets this season. … You will be able to drink in the stands at Oregon State games. … Stanford’s offense drove people to drink last season. … There are new players ready to make their mark for Colorado. … UCLA has picked its starting quarterback. It is Michigan transfer Wilton Speight. … USC has a lot of new faces. … Arizona State is ready to start the season. … Who will win the conference? And who is the best right now?

Gonzaga: If you are thinking of making your plans to travel with the Zags to the Bahamas in 2019, make sure you can get tickets. It’s a loaded field. Jim Meehan has more in this story. … Jim also spoke with Larry Weir about Geno Crandall and other GU-related news in the latest Press Box pod. … Former GU women’s coach Kelly Graves is a movie star. Well, sort of. 

EWU: The Eagles open the 2018 season Saturday against Division II Central Washington, a game that can’t help Eastern’s quest to make the FCS playoffs. Ryan Collingwood has a preview. … Ryan also picks this week’s Big Sky Conference games. He was 2-1 on Thursday. … The volleyball team lost for the first time this season. … Around the conference, besides UC Davis’ win and Weber State’s loss, Montana State rallied in the second half for a home win over Western Illinois. … Southern Utah rarely opens at home. … Montana hopes to be a bit healthier this weekend. … Portland State has to improve on last year. … Idaho State, which opens against Western State Colorado, feels the same way. … Predicting how the conference will go is a tough proposition. Looking back at how it got here is easier.

Idaho: The Vandals will lean on running back Isaiah Saunders on Saturday when they open at Fresno State. Peter Harriman has more in this story.

CCS: The men’s soccer team lost to Highline. 

Indians: Spokane picked up a game on Vancouver with a 15-7 win at Tri-City. The Indians are a game back in the North with four games remaining. … The Indians’ Curtis Terry was named the Northwest League Most Valuable Player. Dave Nichols has more on the honor. … Elsewhere in the Northwest League, Eugene and Salem-Keizer are tied in the South. … Vancouver lost at home to Everett.  

Preps: The football season began last night with West Valley shutting out North Central 49-0. Dave Nichols was at Albi and has this game story. … Girls’ soccer is also getting underway. Justin Reed has a GSL preview

Mariners: Now that’s the way to begin a key road series. Wade LeBlanc threw seven scoreless innings and the M’s offense exploded early, leading to a 7-1 win at Oakland. … James Paxton is ready to return to the rotation. … Maybe there is hope for the organization after all.

Seahawks: Not only did the Hawks lose to OaklandMarshawn Lynch was in the house but did not play – they also lost a couple players to injuries. … The Griffin brothers played together. … Cuts have to be made by Saturday. 

Sounders: Clint Dempsey is more than just a Sounders’ great.


• OK, the local college football teams all play tomorrow. That’s good. Unless they don’t play well. That’s bad. Which will it be? Until later … 

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