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HS Football: Fort Vancouver seniors show a winning attitude

Trappers stuck together, as family, despite tough times on the field

VANCOUVER — They lost every game.

Every. Single. Game.

They also won every week.

Every. Single. Week.

Just have to look deeper than the final score, look beyond the standings.

Seniors Myron Lawrence, Jonavin Salavea, McWayne Ridep, Zijeon Lawrence, Anthony Wilhite, Tyler Runkle, and Nick Laurenza are proud of the commitment they made to Fort Vancouver football. They (and Tana Heather) provided leadership, making for a positive experience during a tough season. Photo by Paul Valencia
Seniors Myron Lawrence, Jonavin Salavea, McWayne Ridep, Zijeon Lawrence, Anthony Wilhite, Tyler Runkle, and Nick Laurenza are proud of the commitment they made to Fort Vancouver football. They (and Tana Heather) provided leadership, making for a positive experience during a tough season. Photo by Paul Valencia

Eight Fort Vancouver seniors walked away from their final high school football season feeling proud. They were there. At the start of the season. At the end of the season.

Myron Lawrence. Zjieon Lawrence. Jonavin Salavea. McWayne Ridep. Anthony Wilhite. Nick Laurenza. Tyler Runkle. Tana Heather.

Champions, all of them, in their own way.

“For the love and the passion of the game. That’s why we kept on playing, striving to get better.” Anthony Wilhite said.


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“To help out the team, help out the program,” Laurenza said.

“Change the culture,” Runkle added.

All solid reasons to stick it out, to come to practice every day, to battle for the Trappers despite unimaginable odds. This is athletic competition, of course, so in theory there is always a chance. But seriously, the Trappers had virtually no possibility at winning a football game this season.

Still, these eight seniors defined leadership. Zjieon Lawrence might have said it best:

“You don’t abandon your brothers, especially in a time of need,” he said. “You start something, you finish it. You don’t quit halfway. I don’t think any one of us could have looked at ourselves in the mirror if we didn’t finish. That’s why we continued to play.”

“Other schools don’t see the struggles we go through every day,” Myron Lawrence said. “They don’t know what really goes on here.”

The Fort program deals with grade issues, discipline issues, and family issues, too, that might keep players from the practice field.

“I’m not saying we’re perfect,” Myron Lawrence said, talking about him and his fellow seniors. “But we tried our best.”

Losing by an average of 39 points per game can take its toll.

“We struggled all year with everything,” Myron Lawrence said. “Sometimes we’d have good practices. Other times, just nonsense.”

Still, these seniors tried to find something good in this long season.

“After every loss, it was very emotional,” Wilhite said. “At every practice, we just looked for the positive.”

It was clear these Trappers did improve throughout the season, too. They did not score in the first three weeks of the season, but would get multiple touchdowns in three of their next four games.

Wilhite, it can be argued, had the best individual performance for the Trappers this season with 223 yards receiving and three touchdowns in a loss against Kelso.

Then there was the Week 9 game against league champion Mountain View. Again, the scoreboard accurately noted the game was a shutout. On the Fort Vancouver sideline, though, it felt like anything but a blowout.  

Laurenza had a great catch and run. The defense made a few big tackles. The Trappers were not going to win, but they also were not going to allow their opponent to dismiss them. Mountain View would have to earn it.

On the sideline, the Trappers were going crazy for their teammates on the field, cheering every positive play, every positive effort.

The Trappers recall last season the sideline was quiet, too quiet. Dead silence at times. Not this year. The players not in the game remained engaged, all through Week 9.

“That week, that was our best practice of the whole season,” Zjieon Lawrence said. “We already knew everyone thought we were going to get blown up, but we could still compete.”

The eight seniors pretty much played every down for the Trappers. Maybe a break here and there, but for the most part, they played offense and defense.

“We do have warriors here,” Zjieon Lawrence said. “We need more warriors.”

Fort Vancouver had a freshman team this season. Those are the future warriors. Today’s seniors expect them to be better.

Wilhite said he wants the younger Trappers to remember the seniors for the struggles they endured, the effort they gave, and how they tried to change the culture.

“We want them to be better than us. We want them to be better and stronger,” Zjieon Lawrence said, adding he watched the younger players at practice and noticed they have great attitudes. “I can say they have a bright future.”

“I want them to work harder than we did,” Myron Lawrence added. “Try to love the game of football and try to change people’s view of Fort Vancouver.”

Above all else, stick together.

“I want the young people to know we did not give up on each other,” Myron Lawrence said.

That has to count for something. In fact, it counts for just about everything.

The eight senior football players for the 2018 Fort Vancouver Trappers should feel good about themselves. They won just by being there, setting an example, and showing the way.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com 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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