Heritage to close out regular season against Skyview

HeritageTimberwolves seek fifth win in matchup with the Storm

Heritage Timberwolves (4-4, 1-2 4A GSHL)

Week 1: Heritage 28, Prairie 14
Week 2: Heritage 34, Evergreen 7
Week 3: West Valley (Yakima) 57, Heritage 16
Week 4: Redmond 38, Heritage 20
Week 5: Union 56, Heritage 6
Week 6: Heritage 34, Benson (Ore.) 14
Week 7: Camas 63, Heritage 13
Week 8: Heritage 28, Battle Ground 21
Next: vs. Skyview, 4:30 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium

The Heritage Timberwolves are feeling good these days after earning their first league win since 2012.

Heritage quarterback Michael Taras (10), shown here in a game earlier this season against Evergreen, helped the Timberwolves defeat Battle Ground last week. Photo by Mike Schultz
Heritage quarterback Michael Taras (10), shown here in a game earlier this season against Evergreen, helped the Timberwolves defeat Battle Ground last week. Photo by Mike Schultz

A huge step in the right direction:

Heritage had lost 25 consecutive league games.

Now, the Timberwolves have won one league game in a row.

That’s a big difference, even if it does not look like it in the standings.

“It’s one of those things when you’re a struggling program, it was another piece of baggage the kids carried around. Kind of nice to get rid of that,” Heritage coach Matt Gracey said.

“Everyone just throws us at the bottom very year. ‘Who’s going to finish last? Heritage.’ That got frustrating,” the coach continued. “Really nice to see the kids battle. Just proud of our kids. Took a lot of guts to stick with it.”

Defense to offense:

Battle Ground went for it on a fourth down, and Robert Meadors got into the backfield to slow down the ball carrier. Then Tristan Conn filled in to crush the ball carrier.

Heritage would get the ball back and scored its first touchdown.

Defense to special teams:

The Heritage defense forced a three-and-out on Battle Ground’s first possession of the second half.

Andrew Thom did not get a third-down sack, but his pressure led the Battle Ground quarterback to abandon the play. He was stopped for a short gain, which led to a punt.

Tayler Sappington blocked that punt, and Thom recovered at the 13-yard line and returned it for a touchdown to tie the game.

Sweet pass:

Battle Ground took a 21-14 lead but Heritage was back within a point on the first play from scrimmage after that BG TD.

Quarterback Michael Taras found Neithan Stanley for a 63-yard touchdown pass.

Battle Ground’s defense was a bit late getting on the field, as the 11th player was running in from the sideline. Still, there were two defenders closing in on Stanley. But Taras fit the ball right in between the defenders, and Stanley did the rest, sprinting into the end zone. The extra point was no good, meaning Heritage still trailed by one.
“Someone on the sideline said, ‘We got this. Don’t worry. It’s over.’ Just a different feeling on the sideline,” Gracey said.

More Heritage defense:

Battle Ground tried to run out the clock but lost the ball on downs.

On third down, it was Skyler Scoggins and Meadors making a big play for little or no gain.

On fourth down, Jorge Rubio filled the gap, and then he got help from a number of teammates as the Timberwolves swarmed to the ball and stopped the Tigers from advancing to the line to gain.

First down Heritage.

Winning time:

There was a 13-yard pass to get the drive started.

Taras then looked right to pass, saw nothing open, then scrambled to his left before finding Meadors for a 31-yard gain to get inside the 10-yard line.

A few plays and penalties later, Taras found Meadors for a 4-yard touchdown pass for the lead. The two-point conversion made it 28-21.

Battle Ground lost the ball again on downs on the ensuing possession. Meadors had a big sack in that drive. Then Heritage was able to run out the clock.

Coach Speak:

What did Gracey think of Week 8’s performance? “We haven’t played with emotion all year. It’s just kind of weird. We’ve been one of those teams A to B to C to D. Friday night, we played with a lot more emotion, a ton of excitement. Hopefully that will be a corner that we’ve turned and we’ll start acting that way week in and week out.”

MVP on offense: “We had a lot of good performances,’’ Gracey said. “Michael (Taras) had to deal with a lot, make a lot of plays. He got himself calmed down and at the end he was really, really on fire.”

MVP on defense: Gracey said he wanted to give it to the entire defense, but also wanted to highlight Tayler Sappington. “Filled in for an injured teammate and did a great job on the defensive line. May have had one of the more important performances of the year.”

Thoughts on Week 9 vs. Skyview: “No one expects us to do anything,’’ Gracey said. “We’re going to go out and play really hard and give it a shot. If we can play with the kind of emotion, win or lose, and we can play four solid quarters of football, I’ll consider that a successful end to our year.”

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