Woodland secures No. 3 spot and Washougal advances to postseason as the No. 4 seed
CAMAS — The Columbia River Chieftains, who started their season with a rough stretch of football, got to celebrate better times Monday night at Doc Harris Stadium.
The celebration will last at least until Saturday, too, as the Chieftains earned a home playoff game.
Columbia River (4-5, 4-2 GSHL) prevailed in a three-team tiebreaker to take the second seed from the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League.
The Chieftains got a touchdown pass from Matt Asplund to Nathan Kunz to beat Woodland 7-0 in one mini-game, then Tristan Hoyer kicked a field goal and had a defensive gem in a 3-0 win over Washougal.
Woodland (5-4, 4-2) topped Washougal 8-6 in the other mini-game to take the third seed. Tyler Flanagan caught a fourth-down, 1-yard TD pass from Wyatt Harsh and the Beavers got a two-point conversion. The Beavers will play W.F. West on the road in a district playoff.
Washougal (6-3, 4-2) ended up as No. 4 and will travel to Tumwater. Date and times for those games weren’t available Monday night.
Ryan Stevens scored the Panthers TD on an 11-yard run but the 2-point try failed.
Columbia River gets a home game, albeit at Kiggins Bowl instead of on campus, but it still counts for these Chieftains. They will take on Black Hills on Saturday, time to be determined.
“Bringing back the tradition of Columbia River is an opportunity and a blessing,” Kunz said.
“We get the whole home crowd, and that’s a huge thing,” Hoyer added.
The round-robin format needed a team to go 2-0 to end the tiebreaker. After River beat Woodland, the Chieftains had to beat Washougal or all three teams would have had to take the field again for three more mini-games.
Hoyer was true on a 20-yard field goal. He said there was a little bit of pressure as he walked on to the field.
“But when I got ready to kick it, it went away,” he said. “I kicked it like I do a thousand times, and it went up.”
Washougal had a chance to tie or take the lead, though.
But Hoyer got through the defense and had a sack for a loss of 12 on the first-down play. Washougal never recovered and ended up falling a yard short of a first down on its fourth-down play.
“I thought he had thrown the ball at first, but I got him,” Hoyer said.
River’s lone touchdown of the night came in its first game. Penalties brought the Chieftains back to the 30-yard line, but Asplund found Kunz for the long scoring pass.
“I knew where I was. I started falling, so I decided to do a somersault into the end zone,” Kunz said.
The Chieftains started the year 1-4, but won four of its final five games, and all four were league games, to get in this position.
“The main thing is just believing in our quarterback,” Kunz said. “He really shined throughout. He’s one big reason we’re doing good. He’s dropping dimes out there.”
“We just had to get the offense down,” added Hoyer. “Once we got it down, we started rolling.”
Columbia River coach Christian Swain agreed that it was all about keeping the faith.
“We were young. We just continually improved,” he said. “Our kids did a great job of believing in themselves. It really has paid off at the end of the year. We’re starting to peak and play better. I’m proud of that.
“Your goal is to be playing late, not sitting,” Swain said.
All three teams in this 2A tiebreaker will still be playing in November.
The Chieftains, though, earned the home game.