Prairie to meet district-rival Battle Ground Friday

Falcons and Tigers both 0-3 on the season

Prairie Falcons (0-3)

Week 1: Heritage 28, Prairie 14

Week 2: Hockinson 42, Prairie 6

Week 3: Black Hills 25, Prairie 22

Next: Prairie vs. Battle Ground, 7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium

This one hurt in so many ways because the Falcons know they squandered so many chances.

Ouch:

Watching this game days later on my computer screen, I felt for the Falcons. They did so many things right. They had such a great start. Their defense only gave up one touchdown, and that was only on a short field.

Incredible start:

Prairie scored on its first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Jayson Maddux found Nolan Mickenham, who caught the ball, outran three defenders who were near him when he caught it, and then outran the pursuit angle of the final defender for a 69-yard touchdown.

The Prairie defense forced a fumble on the next drive. (Several players were in on the tackle, and I believe it was Trajveion Douglas who forced the fumble.)

Payton Millet caught a touchdown pass from Maddux for a quick 14-0 lead.

On the next Black Hills drive, Jake Bobst got an interception to give Prairie the ball again.

Prairie quarterback Jayson Maddux threw a spectacular 69-yard touchdown pass last week to Nolan Mickenham. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie quarterback Jayson Maddux threw a spectacular 69-yard touchdown pass last week to Nolan Mickenham. Photo by Mike Schultz

Special teams:

Black Hills would win this game with its special teams.

First, the Wolves blocked a punt and recovered for a touchdown. Later in the half, there was a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Yes, the Prairie defense “pitched” a shutout in the first half, but the score was 16-16. (Prairie got a safety when a penalty was called on Black Hills in the end zone.)

Offense struggled, too:

That is not to say the Falcons did not have other chances.

Prairie did not score on two first-and-goal situations and another on a first-and-10 from the Black Hills’ 11-yard line.

Amazing play:

In the closing minutes, Maddux threw a perfect bomb over two defenders and into the hands of Mickenham for a 66-yard score. Mickenham did not have to break stride, and one defender, who was in good position, could not get to the ball.

A perfectly thrown ball can defeat good coverage, and this was one of them.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, they did not recover the onside kick, and Black Hills prevailed.

Coach Speak:

What did Kevin Baker learn about his team in Week 3? “1) After moving some kids around, we feel we have found the right lineup which resulted in a solid defensive performance. 2) Special teams are the easiest way to lose a close game. Poor blocking and effort resulted in a blocked punt for a TD and failure to hustle down the field to cover a punt resulted in a second TD. Add two failed FG attempts, and you have a recipe for a three-point loss. 3) You can’t have 20 penalties and expect to win a game. 4) Although we lost, we see a lot of improvement, both individually and as a team. We think we are on the cusp of getting things put together and unleashing a potent offense in time for league play.”

MVP on offense: Nolan Mickenham. Scored on Prairie’s first play from scrimmage and Prairie’s last play from scrimmage.

MVPs on defense: “After some good performances by several players, we identified two who stepped up their game this week. Ken Miller came alive on the defensive line, absorbing blocks and forcing double-teams, allowing our linebackers to get to the ball. Jackson Smithline came in off the bench with a good performance from his linebacker position to lead the team with 12 tackles.”

Thoughts on Week 4 vs. Battle Ground: “It is a great week for football in the Battle Ground School District,’’ Baker said. “Our kids have an intrinsic motivation as we will play Battle Ground this week. We feel we are coming together at the right time and look forward to the challenge of playing another 4A opponent, and our in-district rival, as we head into conference play (in Week 5). Both teams have something to prove, and it’s going to be a great game.”

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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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