3A GSHL football notes: Prairie prepares for biggest regular season game — in its history?

First time Prairie and an opponent have both been 4-0; plus tidbits on other teams from the 3A GSHL.

Here are our weekly notes from the Clark County football teams in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League.

PRAIRIE FALCONS (4-0)

Week 4: Prairie 38, Battle Ground 6

A broken clock is right twice a day:

Every once in a while, I get lucky. In our football preview, I listed the best games for each team this coming season. For Prairie I wrote: Naturally, the Mountain View game is big on any team’s schedule. But before Prairie can compete against the top team in the league, perhaps a better test will be the battle against last year’s second-place team, Kelso.

Coach Mike Peck agreed with my assessment back in August. The Mountain View game is in Week 6, but Kelso is Week 5. The Falcons would know a lot about themselves after Week 5.

Prairie lineman Brody Schlaefli was one of several Falcons who had key blocks in the team’s win over Battle Ground in Week 4. Photo by Mike Schultz
Prairie lineman Brody Schlaefli was one of several Falcons who had key blocks in the team’s win over Battle Ground in Week 4. Photo by Mike Schultz

Well, here we are, in preparation for Week 5, and one could argue this is the biggest regular-season home football game in Prairie’s history.

Kelso will be coming to District Stadium for a 7 p.m. game Friday. Both teams are 4-0 as they enter Class 3A Greater St. Helens League play.

This is the first time Prairie and an opponent have been undefeated going up against each other this late in the season. (To be fair, Kelso won by a forfeit last week, so the team has only played three games. Still, it is more than likely Kelso would have won. And even if the team’s record was considered 3-0, it would still be the first time Prairie has been undefeated going into Week 5 against another undefeated team.)

The 1984 Prairie Falcons were 5-0 but when they won in Week 5, it was on the road, according to archives researched by our friend Bryan Levesque.  So this is a home Prairie game featuring two 4-0 squads. That’s pretty cool.

The 2019 Falcons would love to be the second 5-0 team in program history.  

And then, if that happens, the Falcons will turn to the next big game, a chance to improve to 6-0 for the first time.

For now, though, Kelso is the big game. 

Blocked!
Took a look at all six Prairie touchdowns from last week. Here are some of the guys who made it happen but did not get in the boxscore.

TD1: A swing pass to a wide receiver. AJ Dixson found Zeke Dixson. Only one block was needed. Zack Brown did the job, sealing off the defensive back, and Zeke was gone. 

TD2: An awkward start to the play. A bobble. But quarterback AJ Dixson kept the ball and followed the block of Connor French, plus Dixson’s second and third effort got him into the end zone.

TD3: Several blocks on this play. It looked like Prairie had a 2:1 ratio of blockers vs. defenders. Christian Lowry and French double-teamed their guy and took him out of the play. AJ Dixson followed the blocks of Noah Shelton and Devante Clayton into the end zone.

TD4: Dustin Shelby made some nice moves to bounce outside, and that is where Zeke Dixson made a smart, safe play. In the old days, a player in Dixson’s position would have destroyed the defensive player on a blindside block. On this play, Dixson appeared to be ready to deliver a blow, then pulled up and just got in the way of the defender. There was no need to crush him. In fact, that would have been a penalty and nullified Shelby’s touchdown. Instead, Dixson made the play without injury to himself nor the Battle Ground defender, and the Falcons had another TD.

TD5: Shelby scored another touchdown and the double-team block of Brody Schlaefli and French got the play started. 

TD6: A lineman’s dream. Devante Clayton would score the touchdown but only after CJ Walker got a pancake block at the goal line. A pancake and a touchdown on the same play. 

Next: As noted, 4-0 Prairie has a big game against 4-0 Kelso at 7 p.m. Friday at District Stadium.

MOUNTAIN VIEW THUNDER (3-1)

Week 4: Mountain View 24, Heritage 7

A good teammate: 

Mountain View tied the game at 7 on a touchdown pass from Riley McCarthy to an open Dominic Stephens late in the second quarter.

Casen Reed was even more open down the field for what would have been an easy score, too.

Alec Cann, shown here in Week 1, had a big interception against Heritage, leading to a Mountain View touchdown to pretty much seal the victory. Photo by Mike Schultz
Alec Cann, shown here in Week 1, had a big interception against Heritage, leading to a Mountain View touchdown to pretty much seal the victory. Photo by Mike Schultz

As soon as Reed saw the pass going elsewhere, he put his hands on his helmet, as if to say, ‘Oh no!’ Seriously, he was that wide open.

But once he saw the ball was complete to Stephens and Stephens ran into the end zone, it was Reed who was the first one there to celebrate.

Love that. Sure, Reed wanted the touchdown. Heck, if you saw the play on video, you’d want the quarterback to throw him the ball, too. 

However, my guess is Stephens was the first option on that play, and he was open, as well, so of course McCarthy was going to throw him the ball.

Touchdown Mountain View regardless. But a cool thing to see, with Reed automatically switching gears to celebrate with Stephens.

Big plays:
This game was tied at the half, and then Mountain View did all the scoring from there.

Defensively, Malikiah Batties made a great play on a third-down run, chasing down the ball carrier to make sure the play did not break for a first down. Heritage would punt, and Mountain View scored on its next possession to take the lead for good.

McCarthy scored on a run, with the key block coming from Gavin James-Dues.

Later, Alec Cann, playing safety, looked more like a centerfielder when he intercepted a long Heritage pass. His return set up Mountain View in the red zone, and the Thunder would take a 21-7 lead from there.

Next: Hudson’s Bay will pay a visit to McKenzie Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

HUDSON’S BAY EAGLES (1-3)

Week 4: Hudson’s Bay 33, Franklin (Portland) 14

Setting the tone:
Congrats to the Eagles for pushing through to pick up their first win of the season.

This one started in the right direction for Bay right away when the defense swarmed to recover a fumble on the second play from scrimmage. From there, it took the Eagles three plays to cover 33 yards and score a touchdown. It was the first lead of the season for the Eagles.

The Eagles scored even quicker for their second touchdown.

The defense recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, and two plays later, the Eagles were back in the end zone.

A 13-0 lead. Just. Like. That.

And the losing streak would soon be history.

The Eagles would score the next three touchdowns, too, for a 33-0 lead.

Next: Hudson’s Bay will take on defending league champion Mountain View at 7 p.m. Friday at McKenzie Stadium.

EVERGREEN PLAINSMEN (2-2)

Week 4: Evergreen 49, Rochester 7

Spread it around:

The Plainsmen got it done all over the field.

Zyell Griffin had 91 yards receiving and a touchdown. Tae Marks had 70 yards receiving and a touchdown. Jaylen Fite caught a touchdown pass.

Quarterback Carter Monda only threw nine times but completed six for 173 yards and three scores. 

Tyvauntae Deloney rushed for 94 yards, while a sophomore — Kyle Norton — and a freshman — Jonathan Landry — had rushing touchdowns.

“We got to play everybody on the sideline,” Evergreen coach Christian Swain said. “It was nice to take care of business.”

Improvement:

Record-wise, the Plainsmen are 2-2, exactly where they were last year. Swain was not the coach last year, but he has heard from others that there is a good vibe going on with the program.

“We’re doing really well in the classroom and in the hallways,” Swain said. “There’s definitely been improvement. Has it happened as quickly as I would have liked it to? No.”

Still, he has very few complaints.

“All I can ask is the kids show up with a good attitude and work hard every day, and they’re doing that,” Swain said. 

Road trip:
The Plainsmen get an extra day to prepare for a long trip. They head to Bellingham for a Saturday evening game.

The plan is to leave at 9 a.m., stop in Everett for lunch and a walk-through, make it to Bellingham for the game — 258 miles from Evergreen — play the game, then hit the road to come back home.

“It’s a great chance to bond. I like taking long road trips with my team,” Swain said.

Next: Evergreen plays at Bellingham at 5 p.m. Saturday.

FORT VANCOUVER TRAPPERS (0-4)

Week 4: Cedar Creek Christian 53, Fort Vancouver 0

Things did not go Fort’s way on the road in Week 4. 

The Trappers will travel more than 100 miles Friday to Rainier, Wash., to take on the Mountaineers.

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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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