Prairie’s football road warriors coming home for homecoming

Falcons had a wild, long road trip last week

The Prairie Road Warriors are coming home. 

Technically, they are still the Prairie Falcons. It just seems fitting that they could have changed their name, for this football season at least. 

Prairie football coach Mike Peck said his team got better even after a loss last week, a game that started late after a long, crazy road trip to Eugene, Ore. Photo by Paul Valencia
Prairie football coach Mike Peck said his team got better even after a loss last week, a game that started late after a long, crazy road trip to Eugene, Ore. Photo by Paul Valencia

Due to COVID issues with other teams, Prairie has had to change its schedule twice. After a Week 1 game in Washougal, the team was scheduled to play the next two in Clark County, including a home game.

Didn’t happen.

The Falcons went some 85 miles north in Week 2, then 126 miles south last week.

Oh, and what happened last week was, well, wild. Prairie showed up for a game at 7:05 p.m. … a game that was scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. 

Tonight, though, all is on schedule for a Class 3A Greater St. Helens League game at Battle Ground’s District Stadium against undefeated Kelso.

Prairie enters the contest with a 2-1 overall record. The loss might have been more impressive than the two wins. The Falcons held Marshfield to 18 points in an 18-8 loss. Marshfield is the top-ranked team in Oregon in its classification, according to Scorebook Live Oregon.

“We have a really good squad. A group of young men who work extra hard and care,” said Prairie coach Mike Peck. “They know they can be successful. They want to be successful. The fight they showed, with all the stuff surrounding that game, I thought they played really well. They showed how resilient they are.”

The stuff surrounding that game included the schedule change. Battle Ground had to call off the originally scheduled game against the Falcons. Prairie found one potential opponent, but that opponent said no, and then found Marshfield. Still, instead of playing in Clark County, the Falcons decided to meet with Marshfield, out of Coos Bay, Ore., in Eugene. 

Then the fun really started.

The team left Prairie at 3 p.m. for what was supposed to be a 2-hour, 15-minute trip. 

A Friday.

Through Portland and Wilsonville.

On the way to Eugene.

(Using a Morgan Freeman narrator voice: It would not take 2 hours and 15 minutes.)

From Portland to Salem it was stop-and-go traffic. The interstate was closed in Salem due to a crash. So for a while, the bus got on Highway 99 to get around Salem. 

Kickoff was scheduled for 7 p.m.

Had the game kicked off at that time, Marshfield would have scored a lot of points. Prairie arrived at 7:05 p.m.

“It was get-off-the-bus-and-play-football,” Peck said.

To be fair, the Falcons did get some time to warm up for the game. Kickoff was pushed to 7:50 p.m.

Peck and the Falcons could have done without the extra long trip, but they loved the competition.

“It got us battle tested,” Peck said. “First time we had to face adversity (on the field) this year. They are not the last really good team we’re going to play. We needed it. We’re a better football team from it.”

The Falcons made it back to campus around 2 a.m. Saturday.

At least they played, right?

“It’s definitely been a little crazy. It’s been a lot of fun, and we’re getting to play football,” Peck said. “We’re excited to have our first home game, first league game. It’s Homecoming. A lot of things to be excited about Friday.”

Late cancellations and schedule changes are not rare this season throughout the state. Coaches, players and ADs have had to be flexible.

“No week is guaranteed. If we have an opportunity to play, we’re going to take advantage of it,” Peck said with no regrets.

Still, he is happy that it looks like a true home stadium game for the Falcons this week, against undefeated Kelso. Might be the first league game of the season, but it is a big one.

Union opens Week 4 with a road win

Union had a big win Thursday night, traveling to the Tri-Cities to beat Chiawana 42-19. Tobias Merriweather had seven catches for 132 yards and a touchdown, plus he had a pick-six on defense. Marques Cantu had 134 yards from scrimmage on 11 touches with three touchdowns. Quarterback Mitch Ratigan threw for 210 yards and two scores. (Thanks to Evans Rankings for the stats). The Titans improved to 3-1. Before the week started, Union was ranked No. 6 in Class 4A in The Associated Press’ latest poll. 

La Center takes on the world again

La Center is taking on another quality non-league opponent. The Wildcats host Eatonville on Friday. Eatonville is ranked No. 2 in the latest AP poll among the Class 1A teams. La Center is No. 10. Last week, La Center lost a close one to top-ranked Class 2B Kalama. 

Skyview playing Saturday road game

Skyview, No. 9 in the 4A poll, will travel to Cheney to meet Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for an interstate game on Saturday.

RPI release has a few hiccups

The WIAA released its first RPI rankings for high school football teams this week. There were some bugs in the system. A WIAA spokesperson told me they will be working through some miscues and correcting them as the season progresses. The first ranking, for example, failed to have Union listed anywhere. It was quickly corrected within an hour or so. Yes, Titans fans, Union is there now. 

There are also some records that are not accurate. It should be noted that the RPI will only be used as a tool to seed teams for the state playoffs. Corrections will be made, and these rankings are not be-all, end-all. Just a tool.

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