Washougal Panthers (6-2, 4-2 2A GSHL)
Week 1: Washougal 54, West Seattle 0
Week 2: Washougal 41, Castle Rock 14
Week 3: Washougal 17, Columbia River 0
Week 4: Washougal 20, Mark Morris 14
Week 5: Washougal 34, Ridgefield 14
Week 6: Hockinson 41, Washougal 7
Week 7: Woodland 20, Washougal 7
Week 8: Washougal 17, R.A. Long 15
Next: vs. Santiam Christian (Ore.), 7 p.m. Friday at Washougal
The Panthers have overcome injuries and frustration to make the playoffs for the second consecutive season.
2A GSHL Playoff teams:
Going into Week 9, we already know the four playoff teams from the 2A GSHL.
Hockinson, as league champion, will be the top seed.
Then there are Columbia River, Washougal, and Woodland. Those three teams will fill out the postseason bracket from the 2A GSHL but we don’t know the order. Washougal is locked in at 4-2 and plays a non-league game this week. Columbia River and Woodland, both 3-2, hope to join Washougal at 4-2. If all three tie, there would be some sort of tiebreaker for seeding purposes next week.
Been a while:
This is the first time since 2006 and 2007 that Washougal has made the postseason in back-to-back seasons.
Winning a must-win game:
Washougal started this year with a 5-0 record but the season was in danger after the loss of three starters to serious, season-ending injuries as well as two league losses. The Panthers knew they had to win in Week 8, their final league game, and they got it done.
Here are some of the keys to that 17-15 win over R.A. Long:
The Washougal defense was on point for most of the night. R.A. Long’s first-half possessions went like this: Punt, fumble, punt, loss of downs, and then a field goal on the final play of the half.
Nick Oakes forced that fumble, which led to Washougal’s first touchdown of the game. Kade Coons was doing Kade Coons things. He took the ball, made a move to the inside, noticed nothing was there, so he cut back outside and sprinted to a 16-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
On the R.A. Long loss of downs, Dalton Payne made a touchdown-saving tackle inside the 10 yard line. Then Washougal stopped R.A. Long on its next four plays.
The Panthers scored 10 points in the third quarter to take a 17-3 lead. Credit Coons for a great hold on after a high snap on Ryan Stevens’ field goal.
Washougal then had a nine-play, 79-yard drive, capped by a Coons TD run. Credit Dakota Andelman and Aiden Bristol for big blocks on the touchdown.
R.A. Long scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but failed on the conversions.
Grant Lewis blocked the extra point on the first R.A. Long touchdown, keeping the score at 17-9.
R.A. Long then had to try for a 2-point conversion to tie after its next touchdown. Looked to me that Brenden Brock made a great diving tackle as he was being blocked, while Stevens was also in position to make the stop on the 2-point try.
Coach Dave Hajek’s MVPs:
Offense: Kade Coons. “I know it sounds as though he is every week, but he is that good.”
Defense: Grant Lewis. Had the blocked extra point, plus he “played tough most of the night.”
Thoughts on Week 9 vs. Santiam Christian: “It’s a fine line between wanting to win and knowing we will probably play on Monday and could rest a couple of players,’’ Hajek said. “So what should we do against a very good 3A from Oregon? They are athletic and tough with a great quarterback and offense.”
Note: The reference to Monday would be the tiebreaker should Columbia River and Woodland both win this week, creating that three-way tie for second place. Washougal’s Week 9 game is non-league. The Panthers are already locked in with a 4-2 league record.