Hockinson, Woodland prepare for game of the year
Hockinson Hawks (4-0, 2-0 2A GSHL)
Week 4: Hockinson 42, R.A. Long 6
Next: vs. Woodland, 7 p.m. Friday at Hockinson HS
Woodland Beavers (4-0, 2-0 2A GSHL)
Week 4: Woodland 41, R.A. Long 8
Next: at Hockinson, 7 p.m. Friday
It is the game of the year in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League.
And, going by records, it is the biggest game of the regular season pitting two Southwest Washington teams against each other.
Woodland at Hockinson. Friday night. Oh yeah.
This will be the last time this season two undefeated teams from the region play each other. It is 4-0 vs. 4-0.
Hockinson, of course, is on an 18-game winning streak after going 14-0 and winning the 2A state title a year ago.
Interestingly, the Hawks had two close or semi-close games last season. One was against Woodland. Hockinson would go on to win that game 49-27, but it was a one-touchdown game going into the fourth quarter. Two years ago, Woodland beat Hockinson. In fact, the Hawks have only lost one league game since the 2014 season — that one in 2016 to the Beavers.
“Sometimes there is a team that always plays another team tough,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “Sometimes a team has another team’s number.”
Because of that, the Hawks have Steele’s undivided attention this week. That has not been easy recently.
“I’m having a helluva time, after 18 straight wins, to get them to come out hungry,” Steele said. “I guess that’s a bad part of winning 18 straight.”
For this game, though, the Hawks should be focused.
“We have to be ready to go,” Steele said. “This is a good football team.”
The Beavers appreciate the challenge, Woodland coach Mike Woodward said.
“We keep reminding our kids that you don’t get too many opportunities in life like the one we have Friday. A chance to knock off the No.1 team in Washington and defending state champions,” he said. “We’re trying not to overhype the game but it’s tough … 4-0 vs. 4-0 and playing such a high-caliber program makes it hard not to put a special emphasis on this kind of game.”
In four games, Woodland quarterback Tyler Flanagan has rushed for 753 yards and passed for 764. He has 11 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing TDs.
Statistically, he is dominant. But no way he can do that without strong play from his offensive line.
Defensively, the Beavers have a strong secondary, which could slow down the Hawks, Steele said.
“We’re gonna have to run the football a little bit,” Steele said. “If they can keep us from running the football, they can cause us some issues.”
Of course, nobody has stopped the Hockinson offense in years. The fewest points they scored last year was 34. This season, it’s been 52, 42, 59, and 49 points. Quarterback Levi Crum has 19 touchdown passes.
“It is very difficult to slow down a machine that has that many weapons, but I can tell you regardless of the score or situation throughout the night, our kids won’t give up,” Woodward said. “We’ll play tough, physical football like Woodland always does, and that typically keeps us in games regardless of the opponent.”
Going into this one, it is clear both teams have respect for each other. The Beavers know just how good the Hawks are, and the Hawks understand the Beavers have no fear going into the matchup.
“Both teams are going to play desperately,” Steele said. “That’s the way we’re telling our kids we need to play.”
Chieftains know they belong after playing Hockinson tough
Columbia River Chieftains (2-2, 1-1 2A GSHL)
Week 4: Hockinson 42, Columbia River 6
Next: vs. Mark Morris, 7 p.m. Friday at Longview Stadium
They were with the best Class 2A team in the state for a half.
In fact, the Columbia River Chieftains feel they played better against Hockinson than a bigger name performed earlier this season. This is why there is so much optimism around Columbia River, even after a loss.
“We were really proud of the way we played in the first half,” Columbia River coach Christian Swain said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to keep it going in the second half. Made too many mistakes. A team that good makes you pay for it.”
Still, it was a one-touchdown game at halftime. Columbia River also scored first, had the lead early.
“When we’re on, we can play with anybody,” Swain said. “That was a good takeaway from the game, at least.”
If rankings are any indication, the Chieftains do consider themselves a candidate to play into November. Hockinson beat Archbishop Murphy in Week 2, back when Archbishop Murphy was ranked third in the state. It was close for a bit, but Hockinson took control in the second quarter of that game.
“They didn’t have that many big plays,” Swain said. “They had to work for everything they got. We made them work for it. There is no consolation trophy, but we want to continue to build on that.”
Swain pointed out the play of Rylee Sadler and defensive back Monyell Hedgmon, who made several plays to knock down long passes against a pass-happy team.
The Chieftains will hit the road in Week 5 for a game against Mark Morris. The playoff push has to start now.
“We don’t take anyone for granted in this league,” Swain said. “It’s probably one of the top two or three leagues in the state. We just know we have to keep working hard and try to string wins together Friday after Friday.”
Washougal evens record with strong performance
Washougal Panthers (2-2, 0-1 2A GSHL)
Week 4: Washougal 29, W.F. West 14
Next: at Ridgefield, 7 p.m. Friday
It was a non-league game, but it had more meaning than a typical non-league game for the Washougal Panthers.
The Panthers got a win and have found some confidence, too.
“We eliminated a lot of mistakes we’ve had the previous two week. We went up and down the field,” Washougal coach Dave Hajek said.
The Panthers recorded 470 yards of offense. Dalton Payne threw for more than 300 yards. The defense looked stronger, too, getting turnovers and slowing down the Bearcats.
The Panthers did this against a quality program. W.F. West did not make state last year but had made it to the round of 16 the previous four years.
“We’re trying to figure things out. We’re a young team. We’re trying to improve,” the coach said.
The Panthers return to league play against Ridgefield.
“They are really improved from last year,” Hajek said of the Spudders. “We’re hoping we can take another step and get a victory. They want to do the same thing.”
Ridgefield looking to get back to ‘perfect effort’
Ridgefield Spudders (2-2, 0-2, 2A GSHL)
Week 4: Mark Morris 28, Ridgefield 19
Next: vs. Washougal, 7 p.m. Friday at Ridgefield HS
The improved Spudders really wanted that game Friday night, to get their first league win since 2016. Instead, they walked off the field disappointed.
Disappointed and determined, coach Chris Abrams said.
“I have a bunch of boys who still have a little bit of fight in them,” Abrams said. “They were honest. They didn’t pass blame off. A lot of them acknowledged they made mistakes that cost us at critical moments.”
And they could not wait to get back to practice, then play again in Week 5, to try to make amends.
“They are looking forward to another chance to play. They are cherishing every moment they get,” the coach said.
Win or lose, the Spudders hope to return to the philosophy that they started back in August.
“We came out at the beginning of the year having a plan, and we lost sight of it a little bit,” Abrams said.
“As a team, as a whole, we hope to give a perfect effort,” he explained. “We’re comfortable with the outcome if we are able to do that.”