Heritage thankful not to have another difficult road trip scheduled


Timberwolves to play host to Redmond in non-league game Friday

Heritage Timberwolves (2-1)

Week 1: Heritage 28, Prairie 14
Week 2: Heritage 34, Evergreen 7
Week 3: West Valley (Yakima) 57, Heritage 16
Next: Redmond vs. Heritage, 7:30 p.m., Friday at McKenzie Stadium

Strange journey:

That was one bizarre week for the Heritage Timberwolves. Away. Home. No, away again. Whatever it was, it was memorable.

Heritage quarterback Michael Taras (10) will lead the Timberwolves into a Friday matchup against Redmond. Photo by Mike Schultz
Heritage quarterback Michael Taras (10) will lead the Timberwolves into a Friday matchup against Redmond. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Heritage Timberwolves were scheduled to travel to Yakima for their Week 3 game against West Valley on Friday. But earlier in the week, the game was moved to 4 p.m Saturday in Vancouver because air quality was so poor in Yakima.

The Timberwolves went to bed Friday night, preparing for a 4 p.m. home game Saturday.

They woke up to some bad news. The winds had shifted. The smoke from wildfires had smothered Vancouver. The game would not be played in town.

“I figured we were going to lose the game,” Heritage coach Matt Gracey said.

An hour later, the athletic administrations at both schools had come up with a new plan. The air was better in Yakima, so the Timberwolves would leave at noon and head east to play West Valley at 7 p.m.

They put into motion a red alert of sorts to get the news out, to make sure every player knew the correct information.

Text messages. Social media. Maybe even some old-fashion phone calls. Gracey said the leadership on his team played a role in getting in touch with everyone in time.

One player, who had a family commitment Saturday night, could not make the trip. (Remember, the original schedule was for a Friday game. Then it was supposed to be a late afternoon home game.)

All the other Timberwolves hopped on a bus around noon, loaded with food provided by the Heritage boosters, and they were on their way. A long, long way, too. The team had to go north first to travel around the areas of the fires. It took nearly four-and-a-half hours to get to Yakima, the coach said.

As far as execution in getting to the game, the Timberwolves and the Heritage community worked perfectly together. On the field, it did not work out so well for Heritage.

“The whole day didn’t feel right. Saturday games don’t feel right in general,” Gracey said. “It was an odd, odd feeling. We’re not going to make excuses. I do think we just ran out of gas. At the end of the first half, we were done. The emotions of the day caught up to us.”

Still, at least they got to play the game.

“Besides the scoreboard, they were gracious everywhere,” Gracey said of the folks at West Valley.

The loss hurt. The schedule change was a pain.. But the Timberwolves will never forget this strange odyssey. And they hope this scenario never repeats itself.

“Just a weird, weird experience,” Gracey said. “I can honestly say I hope we never have to do that again.”

Coach Speak:

What did Matt Gracey think about the game? “Emotionally, we were in it for the first half. Their guys were able to handle the differences a little better than we were. That’s just a good football team, no ands, ifs, or buts about it. Far better than most people think they are.”

MVPs on offense: Robert Meadors and Kahai Umiamaka. “Those two guys played their hearts out,” Gracey said.

MVP on defense: Ammon Garrison “Field general,’’ Gracey said. “Just did a great job.”

Thoughts on Week 4 vs. Redmond: “Redmond, the West Valley of last year. We had a long trip, and didn’t get off the bus. Hopefully this year we can fix that. Hopefully we can do a better job of executing the game plan.”

Redmond beat Heritage 17-14 last year.

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