La Center moves game to Saturday; and other tidbits around Clark County
The Skyview Storm will take on Prairie on Friday night after having all week to prepare for the Falcons.
That’s a luxury the Storm will never take for granted again … time to prepare for an opponent.
Before we head into Week 3 of the small-school football season and Week 2 of the big schools, we must review how the Skyview Storm went from having the week off to playing a game in about 24 hours.
This story, and many others, as Clark County Today talked to seven coaches over the week to bring you these notes.
Skyview answers the phone
With nine teams to schedule in this abbreviated Class 4A and 3A season, one team is going to be off each week. Well, that was the plan anyway.
Skyview drew the bye for opening week. The Storm were practicing, of course, but not preparing for a game.
Then a phone call to the school’s athletic director. W.F. West out of Chehalis was searching for a game. That week. The call was made Friday morning. W.F. West wanted to play Saturday.
“We were seeing if it could happen. We didn’t know if we could leave Clark County or not,” Skyview coach Steve Kizer said, referring to all the safety protocols in place to play during the pandemic. “We were working on transportation. I had my phone with me at practice, which I never do.”
At around 5:30 p.m. Friday, Kizer got the call that everything was approved. The Storm had a game to play, a road game, at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It was everything we could do just to get our stuff packed up. It was everything we could do just to get there,” Kizer said.
Why? The better question is why not?
Kizer said it had been something like “460-odd days” since Skyview last played a football game. From the point of view of the players, this was not 24 hours to prepare, it was more than a year to prepare.
Skyview ended up getting extra game time, too, going into overtime for a 26-20 victory. Running back Gabe Martin and the offensive line dominated the overtime possession, Kizer said, getting the Storm into the end zone.
“I don’t think we’ll have a 25-hour period to prepare for a team ever again. I hope not,” Kizer said.
But it was worth it.
“We were fortunate and relieved and happy we got a win,” he said.
“We learned something about ourselves. I’m glad we did it.”
La Center moves this week’s game to Saturday
La Center has a home game against Montesano this week.
But home is where the turf is, at least this week.
La Center’s grass field is in rough shape this winter, and with more rain expected Friday, the game was moved to Woodland High School at 1 p.m. Saturday.
No matter, the Wildcats are excited about this next challenge.
This is not meant as a knock on La Center’s opponents so far this season, but the Wildcats are an established, dominating program. Their opponents are just trying to start over, rebuild, whatever term you want to use.
“It was a weird game, honestly,” La Center coach John Lambert said of his squad’s 45-13 victory over Goldendale.
“They’re a program that’s trying to rebuild. They have good, tough players. And we only have five games, and we’re trying to enjoy every single one.”
Lambert said his squad did a good job of spreading around the opportunities. No one player stood out.
In Week 1, La Center topped Fort Vancouver 58-0.
The schedule gets tougher now, with Montesano coming to town, er, coming to Woodland.
“That will be a really difficult game. That will be a fun game for us,” Lambert said. “They’re a stout team.”
Ridgefield honors Taz at home game
This was Ridgefield’s first home game of the season, and the Spudders were able to give another salute to Taz Roberts and his family.
Taz died in November after a long battle with ALS. He was a fixture in the Ridgefield community and all of Southwest Washington, a huge supporter of athletes in the region. For more on his impact, see our story on Taz Roberts and area coaches showing their respect.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence, and a message was read to the crowd.
Tanner Roberts, Taz’s youngest son, would go on to shine on defense for the Spudders during the game.
In fact, the Ridgefield defense has been nearly flawless. Nobody has scored on the Spudders yet.
Oh, and the offense is getting a boost from that defense, too. With the 48-0 win over Washougal on Friday, that makes 90-0 on the season in two weeks.
“Our motto all year is: Raise the Expectations. We’ve been hammering that with our guys really hard,” Ridgefield coach Scott Rice said.
Washougal reached the state quarterfinals in 2019. Then Ridgefield just shut out the Panthers.
“I think we played a really good game, and I think we’re a really good football team,” Rice said.
That made for quite the combination.
A super start for Mountain View
That can only mean one thing for Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson.
“Traditionally, teams that play football in February are the best teams,” Mathieson said.
Of course, he was referring to what usually is the only football played in the month — the Super Bowl.
No super teams have been determined just yet in this high school season. But the Thunder did go on the road to take down Kelso 37-21.
“As a coaching staff, we were a little wide-eyed from a calendar standpoint,” Mathieson said, noting the uncertainty of all of this strange season.
“But it was fun. There are very few places you’d rather be on a Friday night than Ferndale, Camas, or Kelso,” he said of the football atmospheres at those locations.
Once it was game time, things started to fall into place. It was football again.
“The kids played 48 minutes of fun, then they watched the film, and they will get better,” Mathieson said.
But not as good as those guys who play on Sundays.
“I don’t know if anyone would mistake it from what we normally watch in February,” the coach said.
Evergreen takes down defending champs
The Evergreen Plainsmen made it to the playoffs in the fall of 2019, proving they were a program on the rise.
They showed that they are still on the rise in early 2021.
“To start your season off by defeating the defending league champions, that’s always good,” Evergreen coach Christian Swain said, referring to his team’s 34-22 victory over Prairie. “I woke up feeling pretty good the next day, that’s for sure.”
Many coaches across the state were uncertain about how their teams would fare after such a long gap between seasons, and then a bizarre practice schedule leading up to this season. The Plainsmen players showed their coaches that they were ready.
“Prairie is a great program. We felt we were going to have to play a great game to beat them,” Swain said. “We executed and made some big plays over the top.”
We hope to have more next week on Evergreen quarterback JJ Woodin, who threw for four touchdown passes in his debut with the Plainsmen. Jaylen Fite had two touchdown receptions and was just shy of 200 yards receiving.
On defense, Jonathan Landry had two interceptions. Gary McCulley was “all over the field,” Swain said. Dominic Bolds had 10 tackles. And David Kailea “plays with his hair on fire.”
Columbia River buys in to team approach
Scoring wise, Keith Blau had three touchdown catches. Quarterback Mason Priddy threw four TD passes. Of course, there are individual standouts in any football game.
But a special part of this season’s squad is that none of that individual stuff matters … to them anyway.
“It is more of a team thing,” coach Brett Smedley said of the successful start to the season. Columbia River is 2-0 after its 52-7 win over R.A. Long.
“We’ve got some pretty good players, but they all buy into each other. They’re all there for each other,” Smedley said. “It’s been a huge family. It’s been a team-thing throughout.”
The River football team also is doing a fine job of focusing on the now. Columbia River knew it was the better team last week even before the game was played. And Hockinson was on the schedule next.
“We talked to the guys about making sure we’re playing to the best of our ability,” Smedley said, regardless of the opponent. “I think, for the most part, we did that. It was good to see the focus and intensity on every single play.”
In fact, that will be the same philosophy going up against the six-time defending league champs from Hockinson.
“The emphasis, every rep, every game, is just to be our best that we can be, and let it fall where it falls,” Smedley said. “It will be a great challenge, and a great test to see where we’re at.”
Heritage gets a shutout
Heritage coach Dennis Moody said it was a victory just getting to play a game last week.
Then his young Timberwolves held their opponents scoreless.
“All in all, I was pleased,” Moody said. “How could we not be, with a shutout, and we scored 26 with a young group.”
Heritage, with 20 sophomores on varsity, beat Battle Ground 26-0.
The schedule will get tougher but the Timberwolves already got to see some success on the scoreboard and gained some hope for the future.
“For Game 1 on varsity, I thought they did really well,” Moody said. “They played hard. They played great defense. They gained some confidence.”
Aiden Miller had four tackles and an interception. Isaac Washington, a linebacker, seemed to be everywhere, the coach added.
On offense, quarterback Nikki Scott “was, by far, the best player on the field,” Moody said.
Scott did leave the game with an injury, and the hope is he will return.
Other tidbits from last week
We got to watch Union beat Camas on Friday night and then Hockinson beat Woodland on Saturday. Hope you saw our game notes on our Facebook site. We also then featured Union, Camas, and Hockinson on Monday, three programs that have brought home to Clark County five state championships since 2016.
This week’s schedule
Heritage vs. Evergreen, 3 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium
Union vs. Mountain View, 7 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium
Skyview vs. Prairie, 7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium
Battle Ground at Kelso, 7 p.m.
Washougal vs. Hudson’s Bay, 7 p.m. Friday at Kiggins Bowl
Mark Morris at Ridgefield, 7 p.m. Friday
R.A. Long at Woodland, 7 p.m. Friday
Seton Catholic at Tenino, 7 p.m. Friday
Fort Vancouver at Goldendale, 7 p.m. Friday
Hockinson vs. Columbia River, 1 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins Bowl
Montesano vs. La Center, 1 p.m. Saturday at Woodland HS