Football focus: Ridgefield getting closer to league title of a lifetime

Plus notes from Camas and Heritage victories from Thursday night

It is not official. It is not a done deal.

Yet, here are the 2021 Ridgefield Spudders, on track for a Class 2A Greater St. Helens League football title.

They are 6-0. They are ranked second among Class 2A teams in the state. They are 4-0 in league. 

The Ridgefield Spudders moved to 6-0 this season, including 4-0 in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Ridgefield Spudders moved to 6-0 this season, including 4-0 in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League. Photo by Paul Valencia

Three games left, and this is no knock on any team they are yet to play, but the Spudders will be the big-time favorite in those games if there were such a thing as a favorite in high school athletics.

The Ridgefield Spudders are in the driver’s seat for something special.

The last time Ridgefield shared a league title? That was back in 2005. Ridgefield was not the No. 1 seed that year, though.

The last time Ridgefield won a league title on its own and got the No. 1 seed? Try 2003. Ridgefield was Class 2A then as well, but there was no 2A GSHL. That was back when the 2A league was the Trico League. (These days, the Trico League consists of the 1A schools in Southwest Washington.)

The Spudders beat Mark Morris 42-0 on Thursday to improve to 4-0 in league. Mark Morris was the lone remaining undefeated league team. Ridgefield needs two wins in the next three weeks to assure at least a tie for the title and a sweep will give the Spudders the outright championship.

That is the expectation at Ridgefield. In fact, the Spudders believe it will be the first of many.

“I think it would be a game-changer for all the younger players,” senior lineman Matt Kinswa said of winning a league title. Kinswa was born in 2004, the year between the last outright title and the co-championship. “It’s going to be crazy to see them build and build, and the generations below us will just keep building, and we’ll go on a roll.”

Isaiah Cowley did a little bit of everything Thursday night for the Ridgefield Spudders: Two interceptions on defense, 113 yards receiving, and a rushing touchdown. Photo by Paul Valencia
Isaiah Cowley did a little bit of everything Thursday night for the Ridgefield Spudders: Two interceptions on defense, 113 yards receiving, and a rushing touchdown. Photo by Paul Valencia

Isaiah Cowley, who had two interceptions while playing defense, plus more than 100 yards receiving and a rushing touchdown in Thursday’s win, was born in 2005. 

“It’s just amazing to be out here with my brothers. This is what we wanted forever, and we’re getting it done,” Cowley said. 

Davis Pankow rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns on Thursday. He was born in 2004.

“I moved here about five years ago, and I haven’t seen huge success in Ridgefield, so I’m just happy to be part of the team that is changing the culture of this place.”

Quarterback Logan DeBeaumont threw for 199 yards and a touchdown against Mark Morris. He was born in 2005.

Logan DeBeaumont, the new starting quarterback for the Ridgefield Spudders, threw for 199 yards and a touchdown. Photo by Paul Valencia
Logan DeBeaumont, the new starting quarterback for the Ridgefield Spudders, threw for 199 yards and a touchdown. Photo by Paul Valencia

“The league championship would mean so much,” he said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing … I don’t know what to say. Hard work pays off. Hard work pays off for sure.”

That is the message coach Scott Rice wants to make sure is out there regarding this team. These Spudders have worked for what they have achieved this season. And while a league title is not official, he understands it is right there for the taking for the Spudders.

He is comfortable talking about the potential league title even if it has not been achieved … yet. After all, that’s the goal. No point in hiding from it.

“It’s a culmination of a lot of work by a lot of really good kids, a lot of really good families, and a lot of really good coaches,” Rice said. 

He also appreciates the commitment by school and district administration for wanting to build a successful football program. 

“Our coaches work seven days a week to put our kids in a position to win. Our kids work six days a week. They’re looking at extra film. We ask a lot of them,” Rice said. “I don’t think any of them would be surprised by winning a league title.”

The Spudders want to do this for themselves, their school, and absolutely, for Ridgefield.

“For our community, I don’t think it’s surprising now, but it’s been a long time,” Rice said. “It’s very exciting to be in this position. I’d like to close out the last three weeks and put that 9-0 banner on the wall.”

Rice quickly went back into coach-speak just for a second, though. 

“It’s still week-to-week, win-to-win,” he said.

True. But by doing that every week this season, the Ridgefield Spudders can see what is ahead of them, they can sense that league title. 

A league title that, if it happens, will be a lifetime in the making for these players.  

New quarterback says it is “our team”

Ridgefield’s Brayden Malella went down with an injury last week, setting up Logan DeBeaumont as the starting quarterback against Mark Morris. Malella’s injury appears to be season ending, Ridgefield coaches said Thursday.

That makes it DeBeaumont’s team now, using traditional football terminology. It’s the starting quarterback’s team.

Not so fast.

“This isn’t my team. This is our team,” DeBeaumont said. “We all work hard together. We’re a team. Everybody helps their brother out, and I couldn’t do it without the rest of them.”

DeBeaumont went 11 for 16 for 199 yard and a touchdown pass to Ty Snider in Thursday’s win.

More on that game in a bit.


Camas takes down Mountain View 38-7

In an interesting non-league matchup, Camas had no trouble with Mountain View at McKenzie Stadium on Thursday. 

The Papermakers came into the game with a 1-4 record. Mountain View, off a huge win at Kelso last week, was 4-1. 

Of course, the Camas schedule has been the talk of the season for fans of the Papermakers. For those paying attention, this team is a lot better than its record.

Now, the Papermakers are preparing for the stretch run. Our thanks to colleague Bryan Levesque for keeping stats and getting these quotes.

“It was a great night. The boys played great. Our offense stepped up, and our defense is looking really sharp,” said Brock Thornburg, who had a touchdown on offense, a fumble recovery on defense, and made some big hits in the victory.

“We’re stepping up. Our line is doing great. We’re blocking phenomenally. Our running backs are stepping up. Everything is coming together,” Thornburg said. “Our motto this week was ‘Finish.’ And we finished on the O-line and everywhere.”

Camas quarterback Taylor Ioane went 13 for 16 for 180 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a score.

“After the first four hard games, we delivered,” Ioane said, referring to the difficult non-league schedule and the 0-4 start. 

Camas beat Battle Ground in a 4A GSHL game last week. Then took down the first-place team in the 3A GSHL this week.

“This game really brought us up,” Ioane said. “We skyrocketed this game.”

Camas outgained Mountain View 468 to 226 in offense. 

“We just keep putting in the work,” Camas coach Jack Hathaway said. “The mindset is the same every single week. We keep grinding. The kids are hungry. I love coaching these kids.”


Heritage gets its first win

The Heritage Timberwolves picked up three wins in the abbreviated spring season. There was optimism, hope. 

Well, this fall season has been difficult for the Timberwolves. Five consecutive losses. It could have been time for a team to break.

Instead, the Heritage Timberwolves kept believing, kept working, and on Thursday, they got a victory over in-district rival Evergreen.

A start-to-finish victory, too. Heritage never trailed in this close game, winning 16-13.

Evergreen came into the game with a 3-2 record. 

Heritage, though, just has a way of figuring out the Plainsmen. Oh sure, Evergreen got a 12-6 win in the abbreviated season. But Heritage won this rivalry from 2016 to 2019. So make this five of the last six in Heritage’s favor.

Oh, and this game was played in front of honorary team captain Leta Meyer. The former athletic director, who spent 20 years at the school after helping to open Heritage, was enshrined into the school’s hall of fame. The Timberwolves gave Meyer one more memory.

In other Thursday games, Union beat Battle Ground 43-6 to move to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the 4A GSHL. Skyview is now 5-1 after a 35-14 non-league win at Kelso. 

Week 6 continues with three 2A GSHL matchups, a Trico League matchup, and more non-league games.

Next week features the start of a three-game stretch to determine the 4A GSHL champion and playoff berths. Skyview will take on Union on Thursday. 


More Ridgefield game notes

The game featured two undefeated teams in league play. But by the end, it was clear which team is No. 1 right now.

A close game for a half, it was all Ridgefield in the second half, pulling away for a 42-0 victory.

Matt Kinswa had a sack on a fourth-down play to end Mark Morris’ first drive of the game. Later in the half, Daniel McDonnell got a third-down sack to force a fourth-and-goal situation from the 12-yard line. Mark Morris went for it, and did not convert.

Ridgefield’s Matt Kinswa had a fourth-down sack to end a Mark Morris possession. Photo by Paul Valencia
Ridgefield’s Matt Kinswa had a fourth-down sack to end a Mark Morris possession. Photo by Paul Valencia

“We just have to battle,” Kinswa said. “Coach likes to say we can bend but we don’t break. When it’s fourth down, we have to perform our best, make sacks, tackles for loss, shut ‘em out.”

Ridgefield scored on both drives after those fourth-down stops for a 14-0 lead at the half.

Isaiah Cowley intercepted a pass just before the end of the first half, then he intercepted a pass on Mark Morris’ first drive of the second half. He thought he picked it off in the end zone for a touchback. Officials ruled he was at the 3-yard line. No worries. The Spudders would go 97 yards on eight plays for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead. Cowley had a 60-yard reception to set up the score.

“It was a big momentum changer. Just get the boys fired up,” Cowley said.

Matt Lewis intercepted a Mark Morris pass a minute or so later, setting up a touchdown pass from Logan DeBeaumont to Ty Snider. And this game was a runaway.

DeBeaumont threw for 199 yards and that touchdown.

“We have to get back to work next week and work on next week,” he said, leading the way into the future.

Still, the Spudders can take a moment to celebrate Thursday’s win to improve to 6-0 overall, and 4-0 in the 2A Greater St. Helens League.

Davis Pankow rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns.

Davis Pankow was one of two Ridgefield running backs to crack the 100-yard mark Thursday. Pankow rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Connor Delamarter had 113 yards and a score. Photo by Paul Valencia
Davis Pankow was one of two Ridgefield running backs to crack the 100-yard mark Thursday. Pankow rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Connor Delamarter had 113 yards and a score. Photo by Paul Valencia

“It’s nice to know we met our expectations with what we were planning on doing in this game,” Pankow said. “I’m super happy with my team, and my O-line specifically. They’re great. I couldn’t do anything without them.”

In fact, that line was so impressive that two Spudders cracked the 100-yard mark. Connor Delamarter rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Cowley, by the way, caught five passes for 113 yards and scored on a rushing touchdown.

“The nice thing is we don’t have a lot of fear as far as our offensive game plan,” Ridgefield coach Scott Rice said. “We’re doing a great job of putting it together as far as what we want. We have a lot of tools. You want to shut down Ty Snider, that’s fine, we’ll throw the ball to Cowley. You want to shut down Cowley and Ty, we’ll run the ball inside. 

“We’ve really clicked. I think we’re pretty dangerous on offense right now.”

That goes with a strong defense, too.

Thursday night, Ridgfield outgained Mark Morris 470 yards to 162.

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