Class 2A/1A football notes: Ridgefield, King’s Way Christian to have a friendly battle

Plus tidbits on Hockinson, Washougal, Columbia River, Woodland, La Center, and Seton Catholic

Here are the weekly football notes from the Clark County teams in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League and the Trico League.

Ridgefield Spudders (0-1)

King’s Way Christian Knights (0-1)

Week 1: La Center 35, Ridgefield 28

Week 1: Elma 34, King’s Way Christian 8

Why are these two teams together in this notes package?

Because the two coaches are good friends who used to work together on Skyview’s staff, and now they are both head coaches facing off against each other for the first time.

Scott Rice is in his first year as the head coach at Ridgefield after previously serving as an assistant at Skyview. Photo by Mike Schultz
Scott Rice is in his first year as the head coach at Ridgefield after previously serving as an assistant at Skyview. Photo by Mike Schultz

“He has a humongous heart,” Ridgefield coach Scott Rice said of King’s Way Christian coach Brian Rodriguez. “He’s exactly the guy King’s Way needs to build a program. He’ll have his guys dialed in. They’ll be  ready to go Friday night.”

“Scott Rice is a man of character and integrity. It’s that simple,” Rodriguez said. “He wants to win, but he wants to win the right way.”

Brian Rodriguez is in his second season with King’s Way Christian football. He previously was an assistant coach at Skyview. Photo by Mike Schultz
Brian Rodriguez is in his second season with King’s Way Christian football. He previously was an assistant coach at Skyview. Photo by Mike Schultz

Nice words, but is that really how football coaches and friends talk to each other?

“He’s got a great beard, but he’s not tall enough,” Rice said of Rodriguez.

“I’m smaller in the tummy area than he is,” Rodrigeuz countered.

That’s better.

Both teams are coming off of losses. 

Ridgefield got two defensive touchdowns and led La Center by 14 points at the half. The Wildcats would rally, though.

“We have to practice and play with more intentionality,” Rice said. “We were playing a lot of guys who are first-time starters or first-time varsity players. A lot of guys grew up Friday night. Not they know what full speed actually feels like against a varsity team.”

Ridgefield’s biggest plays came from the defense.

With pressure from Tanner Roberts on a blitz, the La Center quarterback fumbled the ball, and Trey Knight of track and field fame scooped up the ball and ran 90+ yards the other way for a touchdown.

Hunter Abrams ended up ripping the ball out of the La Center player’s hands and running it back for a touchdown, as well. 

Rice liked what he saw from quarterback Luke Price on his first varsity start. 

“It looked like his 15th or 16th varsity start,” the coach said. “Never flustered and really calm in the pocket.”

Spenser Harmon made some nice plays at receiver, too.

On defense, Rice pointed out Clay Madsen. The linebacker had 13 tackles and did a “great job” in coverage. 

King’s Way Christian went on the road to Elma in Week 1. The scoreboard was not kind to the Knights, but Rodriguez said he loved the passion displayed by his players.

“I saw a different side of players on both sides of the ball,” he said. 

And it was good to see, he added. Just credit Elma with a great defensive effort. But if the Knights remain passionate, they will improve. 

Tayler Shega stood out for the King’s Way defense with 11.5 tackles, including a sack. 

Alec Charlton, a freshman had six tackles, with a sack. 

“The lights weren’t too big for him,” his coach said.

On offense, Bryson Metz had seven catches for 55 yards and sophomore Ty Snider had four catches for 57 yards. Snider had three catches all of last year.

Next: King’s Way Christian at Ridgefield, 7 p.m. Friday.

Hockinson Hawks (1-0)

Week 1: Hockinson 48, Toppenish 7

The champs are back, and the champs still look like champions.

Or, maybe they look like they should look in Week 1, but they have a lot of work to do before they can compete in Weeks 11 through 14.

After watching the video, the coaching staff saw a lot of teachable moments.

“Obviously we are very talented, but you can’t go on talent alone,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “Too many kids freelancing out there, especially on defense. Everybody’s just trying to do too much. Do your job and don’t do anybody else’s. Do what you’re supposed to do.”

The Hawks went through similar weeks last year, too. The program has now won 28 consecutive games. Steele said when a team has been on a run like this, there can be times when the athletes forget about the coaching they have received and just do their own thing.

“Playing like this will lead to a loss,” Steele said. 

In fact, the first quarter of the Toppenish game was quite the battle. Toppenish scored first, too. 

Then it was all Hockinson on the scoreboard, even if the coaches were not particularly thrilled with how the Hawks won. 

Of course, with a 48-7 victory, there had to be plenty of good things, too.

Steele loved watching Daniel Thompson in his first game with Hockinson. The running back ran the ball well and also showcased his skills as a receiving back. A number of players scored touchdowns, and that was important to show future opponents.

Peyton Brammer is the big-name receiver on this team with the injury to Sawyer Racanelli.

“We want everyone to see we have a bunch more dudes than Peyton,” Steele said. “If they’re going to double or triple-team Peyton, we have to hurt teams somewhere else. I think we have the kids to do that.”

Another fun note about Week 1 was the crowd at Hockinson. In 2018, the defending state champions opened on the road. This year, as two-time defending state champions, the Hawks got to play at home to open the season. Steele said it was a special place to be.

This week’s home game should be a great atmosphere as well. Archbishop Murphy comes to town. Years ago, Hockinson hosted a Week 10 playoff game, but in their recent winning ways, the playoff games have been on turf fields. One could argue this is the biggest football game, in terms of state-wide prestige, that has ever been played at Hockinson High School. At least four media outlets are going to be at this game, and a few more might make an appearance as well. 

Next: At home against Archbishop Murphy, 7 p.m. Friday.

Washougal Panthers (1-0)

Week 1: Washougal 40, Hudson’s Bay 0

The Panthers believe they have the best team in the school this decade, if not longer.

And they opened the season with a shutout. 

That has to be a good start, right?

Yes, and maybe.

“I learned what we can become,” Washougal coach David Hajek said. “I also saw we made some mistakes. I know the score doesn’t show it. If we improve upon those mistakes, we’ll be pretty tough.”

He loved the effort from his players. And a win is a win. Hudson’s Bay might be “down” this year, but it has become a stable program in recent years. So it’s a good win.

“But to get to the level we want to play at, we still have a ways to go,” Hajek said. “We have some ability, but we made too many mistakes.”

He noted that of the kind of mistakes he saw Friday, if the Panthers do that against a team like Hockinson, they will not be happy with the end result. 

He added that if they do the same things this week against Prairie, it could result in a loss. 

So yes, the hype for this team is real, and it has been earned. The potential is there. But Hajek does not want anyone to think that a shutout victory in Week 1 means more than just that: The Panthers are 1-0 this season.

The coach pointed out the efforts of Aiden Kestner on offense, Brevan Bea for his all-around performance, and Tanner Coons for his defense.

Next: On the road against Prairie, 7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium in Battle Ground.

“They are solid everywhere. I think it’s a great matchup for us. We’re solid. They’re solid. I just think it’s going to be a great game,” Hajek said.

Columbia River Chieftains (0-1)

Week 1: Centralia 48, Columbia River 33

The result did not go the way the Chieftains wanted, but Senior Night was still special.

Wait, what?

Senior Night?
New head coach Brett Smedley said it might be new around these parts, but in other parts of the country, teams are celebrating their seniors early in the season instead of the last home game of the regular season.

It’s brilliant, come to think of it.

“If you do Senior Night down the road, in a big league game … it can be a huge distraction,” Smedley said.

It was a weeklong celebration, too. The program held a barbecue earlier in the week for players and families. Younger players stood up and talked about what the seniors mean to them. The seniors were also recognized at a school assembly the day of the game.

As far as the game, Smedley said the team’s inexperience on Friday nights showed. The Chieftains had the lead and proved they could score, but Centralia was too strong in the second half.

“It’s been a really good learning tool for all of us,” Smedley said.

Quarterback Mason Priddy did a good job making plays. Jake Ayers had a huge night as a receiver, and all the receivers made great downfield blocks, the coach said.

Defensively, Brayton Osterweil did his job all night, making the plays that were there for him to make. 

Next: The Chieftains will head to Kiggins Bowl to face Skyview at 7 p.m. Friday.

“It’s fun. It’s a neighborhood rivalry,” Smedley said. “We have a pretty good plan for them. We’ll go out and execute and see how it goes.”

The Chieftains even brought out the blocked-field-goal-turned-touchdown football for motivation — the last time Columbia River beat Skyview, in 2013. 

Woodland Beavers, Woodland, Class 2A Greater St. Helens League, high school football, Jason Bowman, Michael Karchesky, Isaiah Flanagan, Hunter Smith, Garrett Lutgen

Woodland Beavers (0-1)

Week 1: Kalama 26, Woodland 7

That score makes it seem like it was all Kalama. 

Woodland, though, was in this game. 

“There’s a lot of things that went well for us, but a lot of things we’d obviously like to get back,” new Woodland coach Garrett Lutgen said. 

Three times the Beavers got inside the 5-yard line without scoring. That crushed any hopes of taking out the defending Class 2B state champions. 

“I was disappointed about that. But what I wasn’t disappointed about: We didn’t quit,” Lutgen said. “Our kids kept on coming. They kept fighting.”

Lutgen was really impressed with the play of quarter Isaiah Flanagan. On defense, Brooks Massey had two interceptions. He missed the last quarter and a half due to illness, though. 

Next: Woodland hosts La Center, 7 p.m. Friday.

“I’m looking forward to playing at home, being in front of our home crowd, and executing a little better,” Lutgen said.

La Center Wildcats (1-0)

Week 1: La Center 35, Ridgefield 28

The Wildcats trailed by 14 points at the half, a first half that included two defensive touchdowns by Ridgefield. One was pretty much a 14-point swing, because the Wildcats were just yards from scoring a touchdown.

“Our talk at halftime was about moving forward,” La Center coach John Lambert said. “Recognize the bad things that happened, mourning them, and then moving on. Just because they did happen doesn’t mean it’s going to influence what happens next.”

La Center’s Max Muffett made quite the impression in the weight room during the offseason and it has paid off on the field. Photo by Mike Schultz
La Center’s Max Muffett made quite the impression in the weight room during the offseason and it has paid off on the field. Photo by Mike Schultz

La Center then shut out Ridgefield in the second half, scored three touchdowns, and got the win. 

Interestingly, La Center did not have a team return a fumble for a touchdown all year on them last year. Then it happened twice in one half in the first game.

“We know we can battle. We can fight and deal with adversity and be patient and work through the process of a game and be prepared for anything,” Lambert said. 

Max Muffett, a guard on the offensive line and a middle linebacker, was, indeed, bigger, faster, and stronger than last year, Lambert said. 

Next: La Center travels to Woodland for a 7 p.m. game Friday.

“Another rivalry game,” Lambert said. 

Plus, the team is expected to have one of its top linemen in the lineup. Sam Wilmot broke his hand in practice and missed Week 1. He is expected to be cleared for Friday’s game. 

Seton Catholic Cougars (1-0)

Week 1: Seton Catholic 19, Chimacum 8

Seton Catholic had some disadvantages going into their game Saturday, but the Cougars turned them into advantages.

“We have two players over 200 pounds. They had two dudes over 300,” Seton Catholic coach Dan Chase said. “They were a lot bigger than us. They tried to run the ball up the middle on us, and our defense did a fantastic job of playing them tough.”

Luke Pitzer got the win in his first start as quarterback for Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz
Luke Pitzer got the win in his first start as quarterback for Seton Catholic. Photo by Mike Schultz

Yes, the Cougars learned they could be physical. 

Elijah Volk rushed for two touchdowns, and Sean Emberlin intercepted a fake punt and zig-zagged through his opponents to make it to the end zone for a pick-six. 

The coach was also impressed with quarterback Luke Pitzer, making his first start, and sophomore receiver Lance Stuck. 

On defense, Isaac Washington, the middle linebacker, was the anchor. He got in a piece in almost every play, the coach said. 

Seton Catholic plays its home games on Saturdays.

“We have a lot of support from our community,” Chase said. “We’re thankful for all that support. They bring lawn chairs out, and our boosters have the barbecue going. They make it a community event.”

As a coach, Chase said he loves Saturday games because he gets a “bonus” practice.

Next: Seton Catholic travels to Lacey to take on Northwest Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.

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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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