Sports Year in Review: State titles highlight special year for Clark County

Celebrating the football, basketball, softball, soccer, volleyball and more champions from the region

It almost seems like cheating when trying to find the best sports stories of a calendar year after a local high school football team has won a state championship.

After all, it is the most popular sport and it happens in December so it is fresh in our minds. Naturally, a state football title is going to be one of, if not the biggest, sports stories of the year.

So take a bow Camas. That state title might be just a few weeks ago, but it is the story of the 2019 sports world in Clark County.

Camas coach Jon Eagle hoists the championship trophy as the Papermakers celebrate the program’s second state title. Photo by Mike Schultz
Camas coach Jon Eagle hoists the championship trophy as the Papermakers celebrate the program’s second state title. Photo by Mike Schultz

There were a lot of other special moments, too. Instead of ranking them, let’s look at some of the top sports stories in chronological order.

In January, Mick Hoffman of Vancouver Public Schools was named the executive director of the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. He officially took over the post over the summer, making the 2019-20 academic year his first on the job.

(On Twitter, we joked that all District 4 (Southwest Washington) athletic director meetings would be a lot shorter. With Hoffman at the WIAA, athletic directors would no longer complain that the WIAA doesn’t think Southwest Washington exists!)

In February, Southwest Washington got three state team titles in individual sports: Evergreen cruised to a bowling title, Camas repeated as the gymnastics champion, and Union girls won the top prize in wrestling. (There were eight individual state champions in boys and girls wrestling. A fantastic showing for the county.)

“We’re more than just teammates,” Union wrestler Annabelle Helm said. “We’re a family. It wasn’t just one person. All of us were part of it.”

Earlier in February, a big winter storm created havoc with the scheduling. Regional wrestling tournaments throughout the state were cancelled and Mat Classic ended up having more entrants for one year only. District and bi-district tournaments had to be modified. Tournament directors had to change on the fly just about every day for a week or so. 

In March, Prairie and Washougal took center stage. For the second time this decade, two girls basketball teams from Clark County won state championships on the same day. 

Prairie won the 3A title in the Tacoma Dome. 

The Washougal Panthers won the Class 2A state girls basketball title in March. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Washougal Panthers won the Class 2A state girls basketball title in March. Photo by Mike Schultz
This is Prairie’s seventh state championship in girls basketball. Photo by Patrick Hagerty
This is Prairie’s seventh state championship in girls basketball. Photo by Patrick Hagerty

“It’s an honor to just wear the uniform across my chest,” Allison Corral said that day. “To go to Prairie, to play basketball for Prairie, it’s an honor every day.”

A few hours later in Yakima, Washougal won the 2A title. 

“I can’t even explain how happy and how proud of the team I am right now,” said Beyonce Bea, who was voted the tournament’s MVP.

(Back in 2012, Prairie and Skyview won on the same day.)

Here is a link to a video we produced for both state champions:

As we moved into spring, we celebrated Woodland softball winning its second consecutive state title. This was pure domination. Legendary pitcher Olivia Grey gave up one earned run all season. One. 

The Woodland Beavers won their second consecutive state softball title. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Woodland Beavers won their second consecutive state softball title. Photo by Mike Schultz

Here is a link to a video we produced on the state champions from Woodland:

Moving away from high school sports for a bit, in June the Ridgefield Raptors debuted. The new team, featuring college-age baseball players in a wood-bat league, was a smashing success in terms of attendance. Crowds lined up hours before first pitch for opening night, which included fireworks. 

In June, Washington State’s Robert Franks was not drafted in the NBA but did sign a two-way contract with the Charlotte Hornets. An Evergreen High School graduate, Franks is scoring better than 19 points per game in the G-League with the Greensboro Swarm.

By fall, we began another high school year.

The Hockinson Hawks would go to the final four in football. It was a fine defense of their back-to-back state titles in 2017 and 2018. Earlier in the season, we produced a special feature by putting a microphone on coach Rick Steele for a game:

Clark County then got four team state champions from the fall season.

The Camas boys cross country team crushed the competition in Pasco. 

The Ridgefield Spudders won their second consecutive state title in volleyball. Here’s a chat with the champs:

The Ridgefield Spudders won their second consecutive state volleyball title. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Athletics
The Ridgefield Spudders won their second consecutive state volleyball title. Photo courtesy Ridgefield Athletics

The 2A Greater St. Helens League had three teams in the final four in girls soccer. Columbia River would take down Hockinson in the championship match, and Ridgefield finished in third place.

Here are videos we produced previewing the final four and then a chat with the champions:

November also featured the high school football playoffs. We saw Evergreen finish with a winning regular season and a playoff berth, and we saw Prairie win a league title and make it to state for the first time in decades. And we saw Washougal not only make it to state but win a state playoff game for the first time since 1974.

Impressive.

Some members of the Columbia River girls soccer team pose with the state championship trophy. Photo by Mike Schultz
Some members of the Columbia River girls soccer team pose with the state championship trophy. Photo by Mike Schultz

And as we rolled into December, only one team remained. The Camas Papermakers went undefeated in September, October, and November, and remained perfect with a victory over Bothell in December to claim the school’s second football title in four seasons.

The Camas Papermakers went 14-0 in 2019, winning a state football championship. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Camas Papermakers went 14-0 in 2019, winning a state football championship. Photo by Mike Schultz

“This means everything. We’ve been grinding since we were little kids,” said senior Tyler Forner, who scored a touchdown in the title game. “It all came together, finally. It’s a blessing. God is good.”

Here is our video with the game highlights:

Happy New Year everyone. Looking forward to a fantastic 2020.

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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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