By Ben • Ben Schorzman • 

Don't look now, football season is almost here

Three weeks.

That’s how much time is left before the official start of the 2013 high school football season.

That realization came with quite a bit of bewilderment on my part. I desperately scanned my calendar, hoping that I had miscounted the weeks of downtime, but I hadn’t. My summer — which has already been too short — is already more than half over.

Next week — July 28 through Aug. 3 — is the OSAA’s official moratorium week, which mandates that there shall be no use of a high school’s athletic facilities and absolutely no contact between administrators/coaches/directors/advisors and students. Then there’s an off week with nothing planned, but on Aug. 12, the McMinnville football team is hosting a three-day football camp with helmets and shoulder pads.

That camp kicks off the Grizzlies’ 2013 season under first-year coach Robin Hill. The first day of OSAA-sanctioned practice is Aug. 19, then we will be just 11 days away from the start of the first football games.

For McMinnville, the schedule has been finalized for a while, but with the season just around the corner, it’s time we take a closer look at the Grizzlies’ opponents. Mac opens the season Aug. 30 at Centennial High School, a team that was 2-9 last season and 0-5 in the Mt. Hood Conference. Centennial did find a bit of late-season success, upsetting Forest Grove in the 6A play-in round, but then it lost 65-6 to Jesuit.

Mac’s other non-conference opponent this season is Sept. 6 at home vs. 5A Madison from the PIL. Madison finished third with a 5-4 record.

The Grizzlies open their seven-game conference schedule at Newberg on Sept. 13. The Tigers finished seventh in the Pacific Conference, and the next week on Sept. 20, Mac plays the sixth-place team from the conference — Forest Grove.

After that relatively easy open to the schedule, the Grizzlies hit a stretch where they play last year’s top two teams in a three-week stretch only broken up by last-place Hillsboro. Mac plays Sept. 27 at Tigard, which finished 11-2 last season and made a run to the 6A state semifinals. Two weeks later Tualatin comes to Wortman Stadium on Oct. 11.

Mac finishes the season with a trip to Glencoe on Oct. 18 then a home game Oct. 25 with Century. Glencoe won a play-in game last season vs. Barlow but lost 38-35 in the first round to Thomas Tyner and Aloha. Century beat Crater in the first round of the playoffs but lost at Southridge in the second round.

Overall, the Grizzlies scheduled five teams that made the 6A state tournament last season. While the nonconference schedule isn’t what it was last year — ranked Jesuit and ranked Hermiston — Mac will still be challenged. It will be interesting to see how Hill’s new offense takes shape with this group with quite a few offensive weapons from Mac’s last two playoff teams graduated. Running back Spencer Payne and his backup, Rylan Blair, are gone. Top wide receivers Kane Kennedy and Alex Israel are also gone. Kennedy and Israel were two of quarterback Gage Gubrud’s favorite targets, especially after Payne was sidelined midseason after getting his appendix removed.

The Grizzlies are coming off two straight 5-5 seasons. They made the state playoffs last year and in 2011 but lost in the first round both times. In 2011 Mac lost at Jesuit, and last year the Grizzlies earned a home playoff game vs. Sunset.

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