Woodland can improve playoff chances with win over Columbia River

Beavers are 1-1 in Class 3A Greater St. Helens League play this season

Woodland Beavers (2-3, 1-1 2A GSHL)

Week 1: Kalama 26, Woodland 14

Week 2: Woodland 35, La Center 28

Week 3: Hockinson 49, Woodland 27

Week 4: Hudson’s Bay 16, Woodland 15

Week 5: Woodland 27, R.A. Long 20

Next: vs. Columbia River, 7 p.m. Friday in Woodland

The Beavers picked up their first league win of the season, the first of what they hope will become many.

Woodland will have the opportunity to play host to Columbia River at the Beavers’ stadium at Woodland High School Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz
Woodland will have the opportunity to play host to Columbia River at the Beavers’ stadium at Woodland High School Friday. Photo by Mike Schultz

Key plays can happen any time:

R.A. Long opened the game with a touchdown drive and was looking to force Woodland into a three-and-out possession on the Beavers’ first drive.

Facing third-and-11, the Beavers called for a screen play, then perfectly executed it for a 56-yard gain from Wyatt Harsh to Tyler Flanagan. I could not see all the jersey numbers of the linemen who went downfield to block, but two of them were Jacob Flanagan and Jack Wear.

Sure, a third-down play in the first quarter might not seem so big, but Woodland would score on the drive to tie the game.

A three-and-out there and perhaps the whole game changes. Instead, it was a first down, a long gain, and the Beavers were able to tie the game.

Defensive gems:

Woodland’s defense stopped R.A. Long on a third-and-1 and then did it again on fourth-and-1 in the first half. Both tackles were made by the same player, too — Elijua Schultz.

Later in the half, Jacob Flanagan got a fourth-down sack to give the ball back to the offense.

Second-half start:

Woodland, trailing 13-6 at the half, kicked off to start the second half, but the game was tied within three plays.

The Beavers recovered a pooch kick. Not really an onside kick, but it worked just the same. Two plays later, Harsh found Alex Bishop on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Bishop was interfered with on the play, and he still caught the ball. Making it even more impressive, he caught the ball between three defenders.

More defense:

Logan Knight got into the backfield for a tackle for loss on third down during a tie game in the second half. R.A. Long would punt, and the Beavers scored on the next possession.

Run and pass:

Woodland quarterback Wyatt Harsh can also get it done with his legs. He had a 36-yard run, a 15-yard run, and then a 14-yard run on the drive that gave Woodland the lead in the third quarter. He found Tyler Flanagan for a 21-yard touchdown pass. Flanagan dragged his defender the last nine yards into the end zone.

Coach Speak:

What did Mike Woodward learn about his team in Week 5? “We needed that one. I think all of our games have been within two scores or closer, so it’s nice to see midway through the season that our kids will battle for four quarters whether up or down. It’s a very resilient group.”

MVP on offense: Wyatt Harsh with 263 yards passing with 4 TDs plus 146 yards rushing. (See, I told you he could run and pass!)

MVP on defense: Logan Knight had nine solo tackles, including three tackles-for-loss and a sack, plus he forced a fumble.

Thoughts on Week 6 vs. Columbia River: “Big game,’’ Woodward said. “Not sure if Woodland has ever beat them (although I doubt they’ve played much if at all.) If Tyler (Flanagan) stays healthy and we keep playing defense the way we have been, we really like our chances. As I’ve said before, we absolutely love coaching this group of kids.”

Historical note:

Mike Woodward is correct. Woodland has never beat Columbia River, at least not the varsity Chieftains. And he is correct, the two teams rarely play each other.

It turns out, last year’s Class 2A Greater St. Helens League game was the first time the two schools pitted varsity teams against each other, and Columbia River won.

Back in 1981, the Woodland varsity did schedule Columbia River’s JV team. Woodland won that game. This is back when Columbia River was a huge school and Woodland was tiny.

It took 35 years for the two schools to be in the same classification. And the two schools had never scheduled non-league varsity vs. varsity squads against one another.

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