Memories were made from all programs as players, coaches appreciate the opportunity to play
This season was for everyone involved in high school football.
Not just the power teams of the 4A Greater St. Helens League. Camas, Skyview, and Union showed once again that if there were rankings this year, they’d be in the top 10 in the state.
Not just for Mountain View for returning to the top of the 3A GSHL after an off season in 2019.
It was not just for Hockinson and another 2A GSHL title.
And it was not just so La Center could finish a season with a win and a Trico League title.
This was also for teams that did not win a game.
Or the teams that won a couple.
And it sure was for the teams with hopes for a better future.
Take Heritage, for example.
A young squad and a team that lost its starting quarterback in the first game of this abbreviated season. In the end, the Timberwolves finished 3-4, but two of those wins came in 3A GSHL competition. Which meant that Heritage was playing for a share of the league title on Friday.
Oh, we know what happened. It was all Mountain View that game, a 49-7 decision. The Timberwolves understand, though, that there is hope.
The results, the standings, they tell a story. But they don’t tell the whole story of this season. This season was about the spirit of competition, of overcoming obstacles that would have been impossible to predict just 13 months ago.
The same could be said for all the other athletes from 4A to 1A, in the other fall sports that just wrapped up seasons in the spring.
Back to football, though, take a look at 3A GSHL champion Mountain View squad, for example.
In January, we visited the Thunder in the still-dark-outside early hours as they set up weightlifting stations outside, so athletes could get in a workout prior to going back home in order to start remote learning for the day.
Once football was cleared for practice, the Thunder didn’t have the luxury of practicing on campus this season. Their campus is getting a massive renovation. The new Mountain View High School is coming along, but the old practice field was no longer available.
Mountain View football players have been practicing at Union High School … after Union’s practice.
In January, the Thunder were arriving at 6:45 in the morning. By February, they were practicing well into the night.
Oh, and when the actual games started, the Thunder, just like everyone else in the 4A and 3A GSHL, had no fans at their games.
But by the end of the season, the state had made changes to its rules regarding spectators.
So on Friday, the Mountain View Thunder completed an undefeated 3A GSHL schedule in front of people.
“They’ve got a band. Senior day. Parents are here. They got to experience what it’s like to play on Friday night for the first time,” Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson said. “It’s special for the kids.”
Mountain View went 4-0 in 3A GSHL games.
“It’s been a grind for everybody,” Mathieson said. “I don’t say that lightly. Usually I laugh when people say football is a grind. But this was a mental grind on the kids of ‘Are we going to play?’ or ‘Are we not going to play?’ all the way back to the summertime.”
Senior Kevin Chen scored two touchdowns in his final game with Mountain View.
“Every chance we get to put on the green and white, it means the world,” Chen said. “To be able to come out here one last time with my brothers … it’s so special. So special.”
Riley McCarthy had two touchdown runs and two touchdown passes in his Mountain View football finale.
“I told these guys yesterday, just thank you guys so much for coming out,” McCarthy said, referring to his teammates. “Thank you for putting in the work during this weird COVID season, for sticking together, for being a team. It means the world.”
For those that did not win championships, they did build something this “weird COVID season.” The season gave the seniors memories. The season gave the underclassmen a foundation.
If next season brings back a traditional football schedule, that means next season will start in June with team workouts.
Heritage will be ready.
“We have a lot to build on, but we have so much talent with our young core,” said sophomore Kedyn Bolds, who scored Heritage’s touchdown and had some strong moments on defense, as well. “We got to see how it felt to play some varsity football. We can get better, and we are going to get better.”
Heritage coach Dennis Moody said while the final score of Friday’s game was a disappointment, the season was not.
“It hurts. We don’t want to end this way,” Moody said. “But we love what we’re trying to accomplish. We’ve seen a lot of positive things, and we definitely feel we are on the right track.”
Heritage went 3-4, including 2-2 in league play.
“From the beginning, we knew this was an opportunity, because we are so young, to get our guys on the field and play at a speed and a level that they can get used to,” Moody said. “That’s what we’ve done. We were pleasantly surprised with how well we competed all year.”
From no fans, to some fans for the 4A and 3A GSHL, with six or seven games.
From no games to five games for the 2A and 1A teams.
Nothing normal about it.
But football is football, even in February, March, and April.