More thoughts on the Columbia River-Skyview football play

I do not regret the River Flow play turning into a national story. The fact that I am writing about it one more time (hopefully the last time) shows that I do not regret this incredible finish to a high school football game in Clark County making it to the big time.

I do regret that some people just do not get it.

This was a fluke play with an amazing finish, something rarely seen. It went River’s way and that was awesome for the Chieftains. It did not go Skyview’s way, and that was unfortunate for the Storm.
It was not embarrassing, though. Or, if you want to call it embarrassing, perhaps both teams should share in that embarrassment. (More on that later.)

So here are a few more thoughts from that wild play:

Take another look:
Those who say Skyview players should be embarrassed, those who say Skyview was the “worst of the worst” in sports, if even for a day, just do not understand.

Take a look at the video again.

OK, there appears to be one Skyview player who briefly says something to the Columbia River kicker after the block. That player then turns and heads to his own sideline, along with the rest of his teammates. The other 10 Skyview players all break to the sideline in a moment of pure joy.

By definition, it was premature celebration. Duh. The play was not over.

However, there was no showboating, no taunting. (Well, maybe that one Storm player, but that was over as soon as it started.)  Skyview did not run to River’s sideline to point and laugh, they did not bait the River fans. No, the Storm thought the game was over and wanted to celebrate with their own teammates, their own fans.

That’s it.

This was not some player running into the end zone for the winning touchdown, taunting his opponent with the ball, then fumbling. That’s embarrassing. That’s reason for ridicule.

This was not a player standing over a fallen opponent and rubbing it in, then earning a 15-yard penalty that extends the game. That’s reason for ridicule.

This was simply a blocked field goal on the game’s final play.

As I wrote in my column for Tuesday’s paper, the scenario itself rarely is seen in high school football — a field goal to win or lose a game on the final play.

Heck, there are a lot of high school teams that do not have a quality kicker. And even those that do might have a problem protecting the kicker with solid blocking. So in a lot of these situations, the team with the ball will opt to try to score a touchdown rather than attempt a field goal. There are very few chip-shot field goals, gimmes, in high school football.

My point? This does not happen a lot at this level. What happened was not embarrassing under the circumstances. Oh, and Skyview was not the only team that thought the game was over.

If only someone on the field, other than the officials, knew the rule:
So the block itself set off this amazing turn of events.

I spoke with the long-snapper from Columbia River, Reese Keller. He is the one who became famous for picking up the ball and scoring the touchdown. You know what? He thought his team had lost.

I spoke with the holder, Jason Harmsen. He is the one seen on the video, on his knees, his facemask to the ground, in agony. Why? Because, he told me, he thought the game was over and his team had lost.

I spoke with the kicker, Codie Schoene. He did not even run with his teammates after Keller picked up the ball. He was still in a bit of shock. Why? Oh, because he thought the game was lost.

I am guessing, by watching the video, that if I spoke to the other eight players on the field for Columbia River, they would have given me the same answer: It was over, so they thought.

Now here’s the funny thing: If just one of the Chieftains knew the rule and immediately made a move to grab the ball, it is quite possible — heck, even likely — that a Skyview player would have reacted and made a tackle. At the very least, the commotion would have alerted one or two Skyview players who might have been able to make a play.

Anyone else think it is bizarre that the Chieftains not knowing the rule actually helped the Chieftains? By the time they heard a coach yell to pick up the ball, the Skyview players were gone, on their unintended journey to the national spotlight. There was no one left to stop Keller from going to the end zone.

My intention is not to rip on the Chieftains nor the Storm here. Just to point out the absurdity of making fun of one team.

There’s no need to make fun of any team.

Call me Positive Paul. On video and through interviews, I see a remarkable finish to a high school football game, in one of the biggest rivalries in Southwest Washington. I see an awkward, unusual play, that remarkably changed the end of the game. That is what makes it so memorable. I don’t need to make fun of anyone associated with the play to enhance my experience of the play.

Seen this before:
Ken Wiggins was credited with being the first coach from Columbia River’s sideline to yell that the ball was live. That’s because he was on the losing side of a similar play when he was at Linfield. In a playoff game. In college. So, yes, this happens.

This is going to be big:
As soon as I woke up Saturday, I went online to read the buzz. Sure enough, social media was going crazy about the play, and the possible appeal.

Immediately, I was on the phone. Columbia River coach. Skyview coach. The officials association. The athletic director for Vancouver Public Schools. Then the ADs from both schools.

One, there was a story here about the appeal that never was. Two, we had to get the video. I knew if the video was strong enough that this could go viral. I read sites such as Deadspin and The Big Lead almost every day. This is right in their strike zones.

It took hours, but sure enough, Columbia River officials came through with the videos, and I believe it was posted on our Facebook page just after midnight Saturday. By Monday morning, it was on Deadspin.

So I was right about that. Still, I never figured it would be on Monday Night Football. Never imagined it would get this big.

As far as being featured on ESPN’s “C’mon, Man,” that did not bother me. Yes, it pokes a little fun, but it is in its proper context. The feature always makes fun of strange things that happen in the world of football. And everybody should be able to take a joke.

However, Keith Olbermann’s commentary, calling Skyview the “worst of the worst” in sports for the day was off base. Unlike “C’Mon Man,” Olbermann often uses his  “worst of the worst” to point out serious issues of the day in sports. On this particular day, he noted the Mets were the third-worst thing in sports for comparing their reaction to Sept. 11, 2001, to the Yankees’ reaction. But the worst thing in sports that day was Skyview football not covering a live ball? Odd.

Olbermann just might be the best thing to come to ESPN in years. The few times I’ve watched his new show, he has kept his politics off the air and has brought a breath of fresh air to sports commentary. Just think he missed on this one.

This and that:
Reese Keller the touchdown man is the team’s long snapper.

“The play started with him and ended with him,” Columbia River coach John O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke also said that the final play overshadowed a fascinating football game. His Chieftains trailed by two touchdowns early yet put themselves in position to win.

There were plenty of strong performances, too.

Skyview’s Michael Knox, in his second game with the team, rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Zac Shomler, in his first start, completed 9 of 13 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

For Columbia River, the Branson twins came three yards away from the double-100 mark. Jonathan Branson rushed for 100 yards. Jayson Branson rushed for 97. And Holden Fielding made a spectacular one-handed grab. He caught four passes for 56 yards.

Good luck the rest of the way to the Chieftains and the Storm. May all of your games be memorable. (Maybe not THIS memorable, though.)

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