HS football: Skyview’s statement heard loud and clear

Storm surge too strong for Union

It has been more than 12 hours since the game ended, and the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League and even the rest of the state are still in awe over the Skyview Storm’s performance Thursday night at Kiggins Bowl.

It is no surprise that Skyview won the football game against the Union Titans. Quality program vs. quality program. 

But on this night, it was all Skyview. All. Night. Long.

Skyview’s Jaydin Knapp runs away from the Union Titans during Thursday’s 4A GSHL game. Knapp rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown in Skyview’s 37-7 win over the Titans. Photo courtesy Heather Tianen
Skyview’s Jaydin Knapp runs away from the Union Titans during Thursday’s 4A GSHL game. Knapp rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown in Skyview’s 37-7 win over the Titans. Photo courtesy Heather Tianen

No one foresaw a 37-7 final in the first of three weeks of football to determine the 4A GSHL champion and second-place team. Skyview (6-1 overall and 2-0 in the 4A GSHL) will travel to take on Camas next week. If Skyview wins that game, the Storm will win the league title.

To get in that position, the Storm first had to take care of Union.

Skyview held a team that was averaging 43 points to seven meaningless points in the fourth quarter.

Skyview defensive linemen Hezephaniah Po Ching and Ty Evans spent almost as much time in the Union backfield as the Union backfield, especially early, when this game was decided.

Hezephaniah “Niah” Po Ching was a dominant force all night for the Skyview defensive line in the win over Union. Photo by Paul Valencia
Hezephaniah “Niah” Po Ching was a dominant force all night for the Skyview defensive line in the win over Union. Photo by Paul Valencia

Union had averaged 47 points per game in its five-game winning streak going into Thursday. In the first half against the Storm, Union was shut out and gained only 40 yards. 

Po Ching with two tackles for loss early. Evans with two more. And it was that way all half, with big plays made from so many Skyview defenders.

“I came out here, senior year, dedicated. I took it real personal. I took it upon myself to get my team hyped up, everybody hyped up,” Po Ching said. “I made a theme for today, ‘To Kill.’ I know it’s kind of violent, but we came out and we did the job.”

That might sound extreme, and surely he meant it in the context of football violence, but it also was accurate. The Storm outmuscled the Titans and accomplished their mission.

Jaydin Knapp, Ty Evans, and Teddy Beaver celebrate Skyview’s win over Union, with the Kiggins Bowl scoreboard in the background. Photo by Paul Valencia
Jaydin Knapp, Ty Evans, and Teddy Beaver celebrate Skyview’s win over Union, with the Kiggins Bowl scoreboard in the background. Photo by Paul Valencia

The Storm led 30-0 before Union scored in the fourth quarter. Honestly, it did not even feel that close. Don’t take my word for it.

“They were just more physical than us at every single position on the field,” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said. “And that’s on me. We’ve got to be better. Hat’s off to them. They’ve had fantastic plans the last few years, and I’ve got to figure something out.”

Skyview certainly figured out Union on this night. Again, starting with that defensive front.

“It feels amazing just to be back there and just making big plays for my team,” Evans said. “We just relied on our technique, and our technique brought us a lot further than theirs did.”

Skyview coach Steve Kizer said the D-linemen got their push, the linebackers were able to excel in their roles, and the secondary got the job done against Union’s attack.  

Skyview’s offense took advantage of short fields in the first quarter after the Skyview defense forced two turnovers, jumping out to a 10-0 lead. Later, it was long scoring drives for the Storm, who could run through or throw over the Union defense.

Quarterback Niko Arriola, who said he had the best game of his career, was 13 for 17 for 181 yards and a touchdown pass, plus he rushed for two touchdowns. His TD pass covered 40 yards to Tanner Beaman.

Skyview quarterback Niko Arriola threw for a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores. Photo by Paul Valencia
Skyview quarterback Niko Arriola threw for a touchdown pass and rushed for two more scores. Photo by Paul Valencia

“I’m a senior,” Arriola said. “This means everything to me. I really wanted to win this game. We all came out like dawgs, and we messed them up.”

Jaydin Knapp rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Storm. Gabe Martin would add another 60 yards on the ground. They make up the Storm’s Thunder and Lightning duo.

And they poured it on the Titans.

“We had a great week of practice. We have a great team. We were disciplined throughout the whole game,” Knapp said. “It’s a great statement. Union is a highly ranked team. We did our job, and we executed. We’re obviously the better team.”

The special teams got into the act, as well. Skyview kicker Fedya Henrichs-Tarasenkov was true on all three of his field goal attempts.

Kizer knew his team could prevail, but he never figured on winning by 30 points.

“It means Ken Wiggins, our D-coordinator, and Matt Hamlin, our offensive coordinator, came up with a great plan,” Kizer said. “I think we did a good job executing it.”

Kizer looked up at the scoreboard one more time.

“That is a surprise,” he said. “That might not have been (Union’s) best game, but we can’t control that. We’re just going to play the best we can.”

Skyview ended the first half with a drive that lasted more than six minutes, finishing with a field goal with 5 seconds left. The Storm then had the ball first in the second half, and used more than six minutes again before kicking another field goal to go up 23-0. So for more than 12 minutes of game time, Union touched the ball only during the five seconds it took to return the kickoff just before halftime. 

Jerrid Secor, Teddy Beaver, and Martin each had interceptions for the Skyview defense.

Union did get something going late in the game. Jaydon Jones, who finished with 81 yards rushing, caught a touchdown pass from Mitch Ratigan. Jones also had a fourth-quarter interception for the Union defense.

Now, the Titans have to regroup. Fortunately for them, they have time. The Titans (5-2, 1-1 GSHL) have a non-league road game in Week 8 and will host Camas in Week 9. Union must win that Week 9 game for any hopes of the postseason.

Skyview’s win on Thursday assured the Storm of at least a three-way tie for the league title. But the Storm do not want to tie anyone. They can win the league next week with a victory at Camas.

“We’re going to need to have another great week of practice again,” Evans said. “We treated this (past) week like it was our last week. We’re going to do the same thing next week. We’re going to go out there, we’re going to do our thing, and we’re going to keep our foot on this gas pedal.”

Broadcast fun

I was able to pretend like I knew what I was doing in the broadcast booth on Thursday, providing color for the VPS Game Time coverage of the game. Tony Liberatore, assistant principal from Fort Vancouver High School and longtime sports fan, did the play-by-play.

I’ve done this a few times now over the years. Gotta say I enjoy it, but my note-taking suffers. And on Thursday night, I missed a jersey number with one of the big plays early in the game. That will drive me nuts until the next game I cover. My apologies. 

But I also hope you enjoy our style. Tony and I have known each other for years, and we have a lot of fun. 

Oh, and joining our team for this broadcast was Bryan Levesque, who provided live stats for us. That was such a help.

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