Freedom Bowl Classic: Woodland’s Jacob Flanagan ready to serve

Woodland’s Jacob Flanagan expects Saturday to be his final organized football game when he plays in the Freedom Bowl Classic at McKenzie Stadium. After the summer, he plans on serving in the United States Coast Guard. Photo by Paul Valencia
Woodland’s Jacob Flanagan expects Saturday to be his final organized football game when he plays in the Freedom Bowl Classic at McKenzie Stadium. After the summer, he plans on serving in the United States Coast Guard. Photo by Paul Valencia. Edited by Andi Schwartz.

Flanagan expects to join U.S. Coast Guard soon

VANCOUVER — With the Freedom Bowl Classic on Saturday night, Woodland defensive lineman Jacob Flanagan has one more organized football game before he joins another team.

In September, he hopes to be on his way to serving with the United States Coast Guard.

“I’ve always wanted to serve. My country has done so much for me,” Flanagan said. “I searched all the branches. I saw the Coast Guard. It’s about protecting our shores. It’s working with American citizens and keeping them safe. That’s so awesome.”

The 2018 Freedom Bowl Classic is Saturday at McKenzie Stadium. The main event is the high school game, featuring recent graduates from Southwest Washington. That game starts at 7:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, there will be two all-star games featuring Clark County Youth Football programs. Those are at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

Cost is $10.

For more information, go to

The game, which raises funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children, started in 2003. Since then, this game has raised more than $90,000.

The website has a roster. Please note, not everyone on the roster will be playing Saturday. Some had scheduling conflicts.

Playing in a charity football game name named for freedom is special, too, he said. Flanagan is on the “West” team in a contest that will feature recent graduates from Southwest Washington. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Stadium. Proceeds go to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

“I’m just out here to have fun and raise money for the kids,” Flanagan said prior to Tuesday’s practice at Seton Catholic High School. “This whole thing is awesome. So much to take in, honestly.”

On Wednesday, players from the West and East were to join together to visit children who are patients at the Shriners hospital in Portland.

“It’s so cool we get to hang out with those kids,” Flanagan said.

And by the end of the week, they will share another opportunity.

“One last chance to hang out with the guys and play football, a game we all love,” he said.

Flanagan ended his high school career by helping the Beavers finish in a tie for second place in the 2A Greater St. Helens League. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2014 and just missed going to state, falling in the Week 10 playoff by three points.

A chance to wear the Woodland helmet one more time was just too much to pass up for Flanagan.

“Football has meant the world to me. It’s has taught me so many lessons,” Flanagan said. “Hard work. Perseverance. Teamwork. How to push yourself. The list could go on and on, especially because of our coaches. We have an amazing coaching staff.”

At Woodland football, it is not just about becoming better football players. Flanagan said the goal is to turn teenage boys into MOCs — Men of Character.

“Become great men, even off the field,” Flanagan said.

Which leads back to Flanagan’s decision to serve his country, then perhaps his community.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a protector and a leader,” he said.

He explained that picked the Coast Guard because it is “more protective than warfare.”

“I have hopes of becoming a police officer or a firefighter one day. I think it’s a great avenue to jump into and experience.”

Oh, and it is quite possible Flanagan will find his way into officer school. He wants to become a helicopter pilot.

“I have always been fascinated with being in the air, everything aviation,” he said.

Saturday, Jacob Flanagan hopes to give his teammates a lift.

After this summer, he hopes so soar with the Coast Guard.


About The Author

Paul Valencia joins 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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