3A GSHL football notes: Trying to figure out this chaotic league

A lot of ifs, but the advice for the four teams tied in the loss column — just win

It the immortal words of the late former owner of the Oakland Raiders Al Davis, “Just win, baby.”

Evergreen, Kelso, Mountain View, and Prairie football players are in a win-and-in mode for the playoffs. Two of them will lose in the coming weeks. There are no ties in football, after all. Oh, and one of them will not make the playoffs. (Heck, there is even a possibility two will miss the playoffs.)

Zyell Griffin and the Evergreen Plainsmen have crashed the party in the 3A Greater St. Helens League. Photo by Mike Schultz
Zyell Griffin and the Evergreen Plainsmen have crashed the party in the 3A Greater St. Helens League. Photo by Mike Schultz

But the only way to guarantee a playoff spot in the next two weeks is to win each of their league games.

The Class 3A Greater St. Helens League is in chaos right now, thanks to Evergreen’s big win last week over Mountain View.

Going into Week 8, Prairie and Mountain View are 2-1 in league play, each with one league game remaining. Kelso and Evergreen are each at 1-1, with two leagues games each to play.

Yes, four teams tied for first place in the loss column. Only three teams make the playoffs. And in this crazy cycle, Prairie beat Kelso, Kelso beat Evergreen, Evergreen beat Mountain View, and Mountain View beat Prairie.

The easy way to the playoffs is to win out in the league games. A team that gets to 3-1 is assured of the No. 1 or No. 2 playoff seed.

We’ve mapped out what will happen if this team does this, or that team does that in the coming weeks. But I also must point out that the only way these scenarios work is if Evergreen beats Hudson’s Bay this week and Kelso beats Hudson’s Bay next week. If Bay wins one, or both, then the playoff scenarios will change.

(As I noted in my 4A GSHL notes this week, I never, ever assume a win. When I write these scenarios, I always say “if” not “when.” Technically, if Hudson’s Bay were to beat Kelso and Evergreen, it would be possible the Eagles would get the No. 3 seed. So again, the scenarios below only work if Evergreen and Hudson’s Bay beat the Eagles.)

Now let’s figure out the playoff possibilities if Hudson’s Bay does not surprise the Plainsmen or Hilanders.

I sent these scenarios to the four coaches and administrators in the playoff hunt. All agreed with my assessment.

Class 3A playoff possibilities: 

If Evergreen and Kelso beat Bay in Weeks 8 and 9, then we will know that the Mountain View-Kelso game in Week 8 and the Prairie-Evergreen game in Week 9 will determine the three playoff teams. There are four different results from those two games.

If Mountain View wins in Week 8, then Prairie wins in Week 9:
1) Mountain View

2) Prairie

3) Kelso

Out: Evergreen

How? Mountain View and Prairie tie for the league title at 3-1, with Mountain View getting top seed via win over Prairie. Kelso and Evergreen finish 2-2. Kelso beat Evergreen for the tiebreaker.

If Mountain View wins in Week 8, then Evergreen wins in Week 9:

1) Evergreen 

2) Mountain View

3) Prairie

Out: Kelso

How? Evergreen and Mountain View tie for the league title at 3-1, with Evergreen getting the top seed via win over Mountain View. Prairie and Kelso finish 2-2. Prairie beat Kelso for that tiebreaker.

If Kelso wins in Week 8, then Prairie wins in Week 9:

1) Prairie

2) Kelso

3) Evergreen

Out: Mountain View

How? Prairie and Kelso tie for the league title at 3-1, with Prairie getting the top seed via win over Kelso. Evergreen and Mountain View finish 2-2. Evergreen beat Mountain View for that tiebreaker.

If Kelso wins in Week 8, then Evergreen wins in Week 9: 

1) Kelso 

2) Evergreen

3) Mountain View

Out: Prairie

How? Kelso and Evergreen tie for the league title at 3-1, with Kelso getting the top seed via win over Evergreen. Mountain View and Prairie finish 2-2. Mountain View beat Prairie for that tiebreaker. 

MOUNTAIN VIEW (5-2, 2-1 3A GSHL)

Week 7: Evergreen 40,  Mountain View 35

Unprecedented possibility?: Ok, so if you read above, you know that if Mountain View beats Kelso this week, the Thunder are guaranteed to go to the playoffs as either the No. 1 or the No. 2 seed.

That would make life real simple for the Thunder players, coaches, and fans.

Mountain View’s Riley McCarthy and his teammates know what they have to do on Friday: Win to clinch a playoff spot. Photo by Mike Schultz
Mountain View’s Riley McCarthy and his teammates know what they have to do on Friday: Win to clinch a playoff spot. Photo by Mike Schultz

But what if Kelso wins this week?

Well, that would set up a scenario I have never seen in my 25-plus years of covering high school football in the Northwest.

Mountain View does not have a game in Week 9. When Fort Vancouver went independent, that left a hole in the schedule. Administrators could not find a non-league game in Week 9. 

So if the Thunder lose this week, their season might be over, but it might not be over, and they won’t know until the next Friday. 

That would make for one bizarre week of practice. Guess the team could, in theory, prepare for a possible Week 10 opponent. The Thunder would know they would be on the road for Week 10 because if they lose this week, the best they could finish (if Bay does not surprise anyone) is the No. 3 seed.

Still, they could practice all week only to find out at the end of the week that it’s time to turn in the gear.

That makes coach Adam Mathieson’s message to the team pretty easy this week. Win. Avoid the headache, avoid the drama. Just win. 

Next: Mountain View hosts Kelso at McKenzie Stadium on Friday. It’s the second game of the doubleheader at the stadium and will start around 7 p.m.

EVERGREEN PLAINSMEN (4-3, 1-1 3A GSHL)

Week 7: Evergreen 40, Mountain View 35

The smart play:
In the game story, we noted that Derrick Webb had a crazy performance for the Evergreen Plainsmen. He scored four touchdowns. He recovered a fumble. He intercepted two passes.

But he did not get so caught up in his great game to let it affect his football IQ.

He got his last interception in the closing seconds of the game. He described the play.

“I’m thinking, ‘That’s mine, that’s mine.’ When I got it, I was thinking about taking it to the house, but I’ve got to play smart so just fall down.”

Exactly. The smart play was to give himself up. If he had tried to return the interception, he could have fumbled, giving Mountain View another chance.

Webb did it all Friday night on the field, and gave a little football lesson in the process.

Next: Evergreen takes on Hudson’s Bay at 5 p.m. Friday at Kiggins Bowl. 

PRAIRIE FALCONS (6-1, 2-1 3A GSHL)

Week 7: Prairie 44, Hudson’s Bay 14 

The Falcons did what they had to do in Week 7. A.J. Dixson rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another.

Then the Falcons took a look at the other results in the league and have to be feeling good about their chances at winning a share of the league title, maybe even getting the No. 1 seed.

The Falcons have a non-league game in Week 8 before facing Evergreen in Week 9. If Prairie wins that, Prairie is at least a co-league champion.

Next: Prairie at Ridgefield, 7 p.m. Friday.

HUDSON’S BAY EAGLES (2-5, 0-2)

Week 7: Prairie 44, Hudson’s Bay 14

More than a spoiler: This could be an incredible time for the Hudson’s Bay Eagles. Take a look at all those playoff scenarios above, the ones featuring the four teams currently tied for first place in the loss column. Those only work if Bay loses its final two games of the season. But here’s the crazy thing: Bay not only can play spoiler, there is still a chance at the playoffs. 

Let’s say the Eagles get it together after a tough season and surprise Evergreen this week. Then top Kelso in Week 9. That would get the Eagles to 2-2. Evergreen would be 2-2 or 1-3. Kelso would be 2-2 or 1-3. 

Yes, there is a path to the playoffs for the Hudson’s Bay Eagles. 

(No, I’m not apologizing for spotlighting the top four teams in the league right now. After all, in my 19 seasons of covering football in Southwest Washington, I cannot recall having four teams tied for first with two weeks to play. So I focused on those teams. But this is Bay’s chance to shine, too. The Eagles could make a chaotic situation even more chaotic.) 

Next: Bay hosts Evergreen at 5 p.m. Friday at Kiggins Bowl.

FORT VANCOUVER TRAPPERS (0-7)

Week 7: Ilwaco 12, Fort Vancouver 6

Almost: The Trappers came so close to ending their long losing streak. They got a touchdown late in the game to tie, but Ilwaco got the final score.

Still, that means the Trappers have had two real close games this year. They have to feel good about competing. And they have two more chances to get a win in this independent schedule for 2019.Next: Fort will play host to Northwest Christian of Lacey 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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