3A GSHL football notes: Fort Vancouver keeps on fighting

Prairie’s Dixson honored by WIAA; plus tidbits on Mountain View, Evergreen, and Hudson’s Bay

Here are this week’s football notes for the Clark County teams of the 3A Greater St. Helens League.

FORT VANCOUVER TRAPPERS (0-3)

Week 3: Seton Catholic 20, Fort Vancouver 12

It almost happened. 

But even though it did not happen, well, the Fort Vancouver Trappers still should celebrate the effort. 

The Fort Vancouver Trappers fell a yard short from having a chance to go into overtime Friday, but coach Neil Lomax was so proud of the effort. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Fort Vancouver Trappers fell a yard short from having a chance to go into overtime Friday, but coach Neil Lomax was so proud of the effort. Photo by Mike Schultz

The team has not won a game since 2016. There are a bunch of freshman playing varsity this year. And the guys who are wearing that Trapper uniform are not giving up, not giving in. 

In fact, they are battling, trying to represent their school.

On Friday, I was covering the Washougal-Woodland game, but I had asked a couple of administrators from Fort Vancouver to keep me posted. If Fort had a chance, I wanted to be there to get some interviews.

Sure enough, this was a close one. I had finished my interviews with the Panthers when I got a text. Fort was within eight points and had the ball, fourth quarter. 

I was on my way.

Nope, I did not witness a Fort touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie the game to send it into overtime. Instead, Seton Catholic got a tackle on the 1-yard line to secure its victory. 

But I did witness a very long post-game talk by head coach Neil Lomax, telling his Trappers how proud he was of them, to coach them. 

I’ll always respect any athlete who puts on a football uniform. I have a little more respect for those who do it knowing they have little or no chance at a winning season. It takes guts to do that. 

As a journalist, I don’t root for any team to beat another. I just report the games.

Still, as a football fan, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this community is behind the Trappers. Keep the faith.

— Paul Valencia

Next: The Trappers will take on Cedar Park Christian in Juanita at 7 p.m. Friday.

PRAIRIE FALCONS (3-0)

Week 3: Prairie 56, Black Hills 14

It has been more than a lifetime since the Prairie Falcons have been in this position.

More than the lifetime of any of the players on the team, at least.

The Falcons are 3-0 for the first time since 1997.

No parties are planned just yet, however.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, though. We’ve got to get so much better,” Prairie coach Mike Peck said. 

Still, undefeated is undefeated. 

AJ Dixson of Prairie is one of the WIAA’s state athletes of the week after he accounted for seven touchdowns for the Falcons in Week 3. Photo by Mike Schultz
AJ Dixson of Prairie is one of the WIAA’s state athletes of the week after he accounted for seven touchdowns for the Falcons in Week 3. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Falcons beat Black Hills on Friday by a lot to a little. A year ago, it was Black Hills that beat Prairie.

Still, no celebrations just yet.

The Falcons might be doing things that they have never done this century, but they are not surprised with their success. 

They also have reality right in their face.

A year ago, they were 2-1 at this point of the season, ready to take on non-league rival Battle Ground. And Battle Ground thumped the Falcons.

These Falcons are are getting too big for their own good.

Still, that road win at Black Hills was impressive. That team made the Class 2A state quarterfinals a year ago.

“To go up there and get a win on the road, and in that fashion, was pretty cool for the kids and the program,” Peck said. 

AJ Dixson continued his incredible season. He threw for 362 yards and five touchdown passes, plus he rushed for two more. He was named a WIAA state athlete of the week.

Peck noted the play of Treyce Teague and Jimmie Barton, as well as the offensive and defensive line. It is a joy to watch the Falcons play “team football,” he said.

“These kids, since I became head coach, have been incredible with their buy-in and work ethic,” Peck said. “It’s cool to see all their work pay off and see them be proud of Prairie football. It’s an exciting time to be a Prairie Falcon.”

Next: Prairie takes on Battle Ground at 7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium

“Anything can happen. It’s just going to be a good battle with a packed District Stadium,” Peck said. “It will be an exciting atmosphere to be a part of. We’re excited to go to battle.”

MOUNTAIN VIEW THUNDER (2-1)

Week 3: Mountain View 24, Battle Ground 13

Interesting score:
OK, so the past two years, Mountain View put 50-plus on the Tigers. 

This year, the game came down to the final minutes when Mountain View got a field goal to go up beyond a one-possession game.

“Battle Ground played really hard, and we got out of there alive, and that’s good,” Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson said.

The Thunder know they are not yet as good as those teams the past two years. But they also know they have a real solid defense. That should take them a long way. Plus, with Mountain View’s recent history of success, every other team wants to top the Thunder.

“You’re’ getting everybody’s best shot,” Mathieson said.

“I just think in high school football, you have to show up and play,” the coach said. “Battle Ground showed up and played. Who are we to think we should just show up and because we have ‘Thunder’ on our helmets, so we just win games?”

So the Thunder were in a battle, and they took care of business. Even if it wasn’t by a lopsided score. Give credit to the Tigers, Mathieson said. They played hard. 

And, give credit to the Thunder.

“We found a way to win a game that maybe we weren’t playing well enough to win,” the coach said. “That’s a good, gritty win. At the end of the day, we executed a drive that was critical and we got some points to win it.”

Oh, and that defense did it again, holding Battle Ground to 180 yards of offense. Through three games, Mountain View has yet to have an opponent pass for 100 yards in a game.

Special teams have been special, too. Once again, Mathieson noted the play of kicker Jude Mullette. Not just for his field goal, but the strong leg that kicks the ball off into the end zone for touchbacks. 

“I think he’s the best kicker in Southwest Washington,” Mathieson said.

Next: Mountain View takes on Heritage in the second game at McKenzie Stadium on Friday, around 7 p.m.

EVERGREEN PLAINSMEN (1-2)

Week 3: Lakewood 41, Evergreen 17

Tough second half:
This score does not do this game justice. Evergreen led early. Evergreen only trailed by four points going into the fourth quarter.

Then it all fell apart of the Plainsmen.

Evergreen’s Zyell Griffin, shown here in Week 1, had a 99-yard touchdown in Week 3. That’s his second 99-yard score of the season. Photo by Mike Schultz
Evergreen’s Zyell Griffin, shown here in Week 1, had a 99-yard touchdown in Week 3. That’s his second 99-yard score of the season. Photo by Mike Schultz

Evergreen was already playing short-handed due to some injuries. Then fatigue set in.

“Our conditioning level is not where we need to be yet,” Evergreen coach Christian Swain said. “That’s partially my fault. It’s my responsibility to make sure we are in good enough condition to play four quarters. We have made a lot of improvements, but the reality is we have 23, 24 varsity football players. We ran out of gas in the second half.”

At one point, Swain put in a freshman at linebacker. Not fair to the freshman, nor the team, but he was running out of personnel. 

“We kind of defaulted back to some bad habits,” Swain said. “It was easier to give up than to fight through it. Those are the things we are working on this week.”

Zyell Takes Flight Again:
In Week 1, Zyell Griffin caught a 99-yard touchdown pass.

In Week 3, Griffin was playing deep during a Lakewood field goal attempt. The kick was partially blocked. Griffin caught the ball on the 1-yard line and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.

“You’d have to do some serious digging to find a kid who has two 99-yard touchdowns in three weeks,” Swain said. “He’s a great kid.”

Next: Evergreen begins a three-game road trip, taking on Rochester at 7 p.m. Friday.

HUDSON’S BAY EAGLES (0-3)

Week 3: W.F. West 51, Hudson’s Bay 7

Touchdown Eagles:

Yes, we know it’s been a struggle for Hudson’s Bay this season. In Week one, they weren’t close. In Week 2, they played great defense but still did not score.

Then Week 3, W.F. West had no problems scoring.

Still, Hudson’s Bay went to work. The Eagles were determined not to get shut out, and they now have a drive they can use to inspire them going forward.

The Eagles went on a 13-play, 81-yard touchdown drive to find the end zone.

Now to be fair, I cannot be certain of what I’m about to write. The numbers are so hard to read on my computer screen. But early in the drive, Bay faced a third-down situation. The pass was right on the money for what would have been a first down, but the pass was dropped. No other way to write it. The ball was dropped.

On fourth down, the Eagles went to the air again. Caught. First down. Drive continues.

I believe – but I do not know for certain – that the player who caught the first down was the same one who dropped the ball on the previous play. If that’s the case, that is just so great on so many fronts. The coaching staff trusted him. The quarterback trusted him. The player trusted himself.

Later, the Eagles got a touchdown reception even though there was defensive pass interference. 

Next: Hudson’s Bay will host Franklin of Oregon at 8 p.m. Friday at Kiggins Bowl.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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