Week 2 • High school football reports: Class 2A Greater St. Helens League

Hockinson spikes competition on TV

ClarkCountyToday.com reporter Paul Valencia takes a look back at Week 2’s football action and a glance ahead at the Week 3 schedule in his weekly reports of Clark County’s high school teams.

Today, the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League teams are featured. The Class 4A and 3A Greater St. Helens League team notes have also been published. The Class 1A Trico League team reports will follow.

Hockinson HawksRidgefield SpuddersWoodland BeaversWashougal Panthers • Columbia River Chieftains

Hockinson Hawks (2-0)

Week 2: Hockinson 42, Archbishop Murphy 13

Next: R.A. Long at Hockinson, 7 p.m.

They traveled, they played, they conquered, and then they got to watch it all over again. Not just on Hudl, but on TV.

The Hockinson Hawks beat Archbishop Murphy in Week 2 on live television. Pretty much all of the Hawks recorded the game, then watched the broadcast over the weekend.

Nathan Balderas was all smiles on the sideline last week, captured here in a photo off a TV screen. Yes, the Hockinson Hawks were on regional TV. Balderas got the spike heard round the Northwest, and Hockinson got a big victory. Photo by Paul Valencia
Nathan Balderas was all smiles on the sideline last week, captured here in a photo off a TV screen. Yes, the Hockinson Hawks were on regional TV. Balderas got the spike heard round the Northwest, and Hockinson got a big victory. Photo by Paul Valencia

“Just kind of cool. Neat to see your team on live TV and know that a lot of people were watching,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “To perform well is a nice feeling.”

He had one complaint.

“They just didn’t get my good side,” Steele said with a laugh. “Little upset about that.”

Steele, by the way, has lost about 35 pounds. Of course, TV adds 10 pounds. Sorry about that Coach.

As far as the game, read more about it here:

The spike heard ‘round the Northwest:

I watched the game from my couch. Yes, I was taking stats. Because that’s what I do when I watch high school football games. Even on TV. So I was “working,” in my zone, watching every play. So I really was not ready for what I was about to see.

Nathan Balderas recovered a fumble after a huge play by the Hockinson defense and then nearly flattened the football with one the most violent spike in Hockinson football history.

(OK, technically, I cannot prove that. However, because spiking the football is against the rules in high school football, I’m going to assume no one has done it at Hockinson and certainly even if it has happened once or twice, it was not as awesomely epic as the Balderas spike.)

I gasped. Then my jaw dropped. Did that just happen? I reached for the remote, hit the back button, and sure enough, yes, yes he did just do that.

Then I tweeted it was the best thing I’d ever seen on Root Sports Northwest.

Now I must say that as fun as it was to witness on TV, this should be the last time we see a Hockinson football player spike the ball.

“The spike. We talked about it. Everybody thought it was funny,” Steele said. “It’s exciting to see when one of your kids get so excited about making a big play. But it did cost us 15 yards. We want our kids to play with emotion, but still have to learn to contain that emotion. We want to play with emotion and play under control.”

Still, Steele had to admit:

“It is probably the best spike I’ve ever seen.”

Back home:

The defending state champions will play a home game for the first time since last season when they take on R.A. Long. This is also the league opener for both teams.

“We’re trying to get five league titles in a row. That’s hard for anybody to do,” Steele said. “Weeks 4 and 5, we have River and Woodland. Those people want a league title just as bad as we do, maybe more.

“Our league is not going to be a walk through the park. In the end, that’s good for us. We want to play good opponents.”

Plus, everybody wants to beat the defending champs.

“We know we’re getting everybody’s best game,” Steele said. “It’s everybody’s Super Bowl.”

Ridgefield Spudders (2-0)

Week 2: Ridgefield 42, Fort Vancouver 0

Next: vs. Columbia River, 7 p.m. at Ridgefield

Two weeks, two shutouts.

Even if the second game came against a struggling program, a shutout is not an easy thing to accomplish. Yet here are the Spudders, going into Week 3, and no one has been able to score on them.

Brock Harrison, known for his defense, had a big night on offense, finding the end zone on a touchdown reception. Photo by Mike Schultz
Brock Harrison, known for his defense, had a big night on offense, finding the end zone on a touchdown reception. Photo by Mike Schultz

Ridgefield coach Chris Abrams credited defensive coordinator Steve Rinard for his plans and then the players for executing those designs in order to get “two donuts up on the board. That’s always fun for a defense.”

Winning is a blast, too.

The first victory might have stunned some people, just based on the opponent. La Center is a small-school power around these parts. The second victory shocked no one. The Trappers are starting over.

Still, the Spudders cannot be choosy. They, themselves, only won one game last year. In other words, 2-0 should be celebrated.

“I’m happy for the boys because they endured a long season with a lot of disappointment (last year). Nice to see smiles on their faces and for them to enjoy a couple of wins,” Abrams said.

As far as the victory over Fort, Abrams said it was great to see Brock Harrison get in the end zone. A defensive force, he is also a tight end on offense. He caught a pass from Hunter Abrams for a score.

On defense Kalvin Staker stood out from his defensive line position. He is 6-6, so he always stands out, but in this case, the coach noted his play, not his height.

“He’s a long, menacing kid to deal with. He’s really shown some great leadership qualities this year, both in practice and in games,” the coach said.

The schedule is about to get tougher for the Spudders. They host Columbia River to open league play in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League.

Woodland Beavers (2-0)

Week 2: Woodland 40, La Center 20

Next: at Washougal, 7 p.m. Friday

The Woodland Beavers will travel to Washougal to open league play Friday.


Tyler Flanagan of Woodland might be known as a running quarterback, but this guy can pass, too. He had four TD passes in a win over La Center. Photo by Mike Schultz
Tyler Flanagan of Woodland might be known as a running quarterback, but this guy can pass, too. He had four TD passes in a win over La Center. Photo by Mike Schultz

Their opponents are impressed with what they have seen on video.


“The Woodland team we are facing is a very talented team. They are a team that can vie for a league title, even though that’s hard to believe with Hockinson there,” Washougal coach Dave Hajek said. “They might not quite be there, but they are pretty talented.”

Hajek said that Woodland quarterback Tyler Flanagan might be the best overall athlete in the league, and that is saying a lot. Plus the Beavers have a lot of talent around him.

Speaking of Flanagan, it is safe to say that most observers call him a running quarterback. He is an extremely talented guy with the ball in his hands, for sure. But don’t sleep on his passing ability.

Video from last week’s game against La Center shows he has great touch. He threw a perfect ball to Christian Yager on a 68-yard touchdown pass. On the next series, he found Wyatt Wooden on another ball that was perfectly placed. Wooden had a step on his defender, but the ball did not need to be a dart. Instead, it had to be lobbed, a bit, just over the head of the defender. Touchdown Woodland.

Also watched his fourth TD pass of the game, a 72-yarder to Kenyon Guy. Sorry, Tyler, I can’t give you too much credit on that one. Even I could have thrown that ball, Guy was so wide open!

Washougal Panthers (1-1)

Week 2: Prairie 28, Washougal 21

Next: Woodland at Washougal, 7 p.m. Friday

The Panthers wish they could have this one back. They led for a half. And then they had a chance to tie in the second half. Then they let it get away from them.

“We’re a young team. We have some hard lessons to learn,” Washougal coach Dave Hajek said. “We made vital mistakes down the stretch the last two minutes of the game that cost us a chance to win the game.

“We played hard. We played against a pretty good Prairie team. Things got tough. We unraveled a bit at the end.”

Still, there were plenty of positive things as well. As a young team, this squad is learning those tough lessons. Hajek believes the squad will be better this year and beyond.

Brevan Bea stood out again for the Panthers. He has had back-to-back great games, returning from a broken leg suffered last season. In Week 2, he had a 13 tackles plus he intercepted a pass and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown.

On offense, Hajek noted the play of offensive lineman Tommy Liston.

Washougal will host Woodland in Week 3, the opener of league play for both teams.

“It’s going to be a great game. I think it’s going to be a game like we just played. We’ll have to see what it looks like.”

Columbia River Chieftains (1-1)

Week 2: Skyview 34, Columbia River 6

Next: at Ridgefield, 7 p.m. Friday

The Columbia River Chieftains were in jeopardy of getting a running clock against them in their rivalry game against the Skyview Storm.

Or so the scoreboard said.

Not really, though. No way. Not this night.

The Storm went up 34-0 with 9 minutes left in the third quarter, but the Chieftains never stopped competing. In fact, they scored on the final play of the game to avoid the shutout. And even before then, the defense stepped up to make sure Skyview would not get to a 40-point lead, to force the running clock.

Take away the horrendous start for the Chieftains, and this game was a lot more competitive.

“Regardless of the score, I felt physically our front seven matched up with their front seven,” Columbia River coach Christian Swain said. “They did a nice job competing until the very end. What I saw, to me, is very encouraging for our program. We’re a better football team than the 34-(6). The score did not reflect our physicality.”

Skyview returned the opening kickoff for a quick lead, then made it 14-0 less than four minutes later.

“We were behind 21-0 before I could blink,” Swain said.

From there, though, he saw good things from his squad. In fact, it was a 7-6 game in the second half.

“Very encouraging,” Swain said. “I still know we have a very good ball club.”


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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