Day After Report: Week 10 (AKA the greatest week ever!)

As I start writing this part of the Day After Report, it is about 10 minutes until 2 in the morning, Sunday. The NFL games start in a little more than eight hours. I should be trying to get some sleep. I’ve got a long day in front of the TV, after all. But I just can’t go to sleep yet.

No, it’s not that I’m too excited. It’s not that I’m too hyped up to fall asleep. I am thrilled, and I am on an emotional high, but that’s not why I’m not heading to bed right now. Instead, I’m just afraid. I’m afraid if I go to sleep, I’ll wake up, and this will only be a dream. The greatest dream ever, but still, just a dream.

Did this really happen?

OK, we knew Camas was going to win Friday night. Yikes, that game was over as soon as the gates opened at Doc Harris Stadium.

Sure, we figured Union had a chance to win in Issaquah. The Titans are the second-best team in the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League and we in the sports media voted the Titans the sixth-best team in the state in the latest AP poll. Still, not even the Titans figured they’d be leading 51-0 early in the third quarter.

And Skyview has been improving all season. So the Storm winning should not have come as too big of a surprise. Still, when Skyview did get it done, that left the 4A GSHL 3-0 in Week 10 do-or-die playoff games to get to state.

That had never happened before now.

But wait, there’s more.

Columbia River went to Seattle to play in front of the Space Needle — a great stadium there at the Seattle Center — and came away with a win. A lot of people picked the Chieftains to win. The game against Cleveland was close, closer than many expected. So what. It’s the playoffs. A win is a win and the season continues.

The Mountain View Thunder had a home game Saturday night. The 3A GSHL champions found themselves in a battle, but also never found themselves trailing in what turned into a 10-point win.

Haven’t completed the list yet.

Back to Friday, two Class 1A teams opened the playoffs with victories.

La Center, the Trico League champion, got the win over Elma. Woodland, the No. 2 team from the Trico, rolled past Rochester.

Add it up, and The Columbian Seven went 7 for 7.

Darn right, I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want to know if I’m dreaming, because this is just too awesome.

I’ve been spoiled over the years. My first season covering high school sports for The Columbian, the fall of 2001, the Mountain View Thunder made it to the final four. The Thunder would do it again the next year. Columbia River did the same thing. Then it was Evergreen and La Center. Evergreen would win the state championship in 2004. Then Skyview got good. Union came into existence. Camas just kept getting better almost every single year. We have been playoff crazy now for more than a decade. But we had never had a Week 10 like this one.

I remember one year Camas was the only team to win. I believe we had 10 teams playing, and our teams went 1-9. Then Camas lost in Week 11.

Just like that, football season was over.

I cried for weeks.

So, yeah, I don’t mind staying awake a little longer to finish this Day After Report.

What a great weekend.

The Thunder completed the sweep for our readership area with the Saturday night win.

Drive to victory:
Mountlake Terrace scored three touchdowns Saturday night. The Mountain View Thunder had an answer to every one of them.

The first was a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Nicholas Wright.

Later, it took just two plays for Austin Mace to break free for a 59-yard touchdown run.

The last answer, though, was the game-clincher.

Mountlake Terrace had just pulled to within seven points at 28-21 with 9:15 left in the game. The Hawks needed a stop. The Thunder had other plans. Mountain View picked up five first downs in a 15-play drive that killed more than seven minutes of clock. Will Warne kicked a 26-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game with less than two minutes to play.

“We didn’t necessarily want to score again,” Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson said.

He would have preferred one more first down and then run out the clock. But this was the next best thing. Mountlake Terrace could run the ball, but did not have the offense to score 10 points in 105 seconds.

Mace had seven carries for 36 yards on the drive. Preston Jones had seven carries for 28 yards on the drive.

“I just counted on my teammates, and they counted on me,” said Mace, who had an 11-yard run to get the final first down, taking the Thunder to the 16-yard line. “We knew what we had to do and just did it.”

(By the way, time to pat myself on the back for my “coaching” skills. Last week in the Day After Report, I noted how the Thunder did not do a good job of clock management in the fourth quarter against Columbia River, snapping the ball too soon. There are 25 seconds to use before a delay of game penalty. When protecting a lead, use 22, 23 or even 24 of those seconds if you can. Perhaps someone was reading. The Thunder were fantastic with the clock on this drive, waiting for the five-second warning before getting ready to snap the ball.)

Drive to halftime:
The Thunder led 14-7 when they got the ball at their own 32-yard line with 1:16 left in the first half. After a 2-yard run on the first play of the drive, it appeared the Thunder were going to be happy enough with a seven-point lead.

But on the second play, Mace took off for a 39-yard run.

The Thunder were in business.

Mountain View only threw the ball three times Saturday night. Lex Reese was true on this pass, finding Nolan Biggs for a 19-yard gain to the 8-yard line. The Thunder called a timeout with 25 seconds left.

After Wright ran the ball to the 1-yard line and another timeout, Jones got into the end zone with 11 seconds left to make it 21-7.

Getting defensive:
Mountlake Terrace ended up with 230 yards rushing, and there were a few drives there when the Hawks got the better of the Mountain View defense. But not enough of them. Plus, just looking at Mountlake Terrace, it is obvious that is a running team, much like Mountain View. So holding a team like that to 230 yards is a pretty good performance.

Mountain View’s Eddie Richardson, who had two tackles for loss, credited teammate Kimball Elliott for getting the defense ready. Elliott, listed at 6-feet, 215 pounds, was the scout team running back all week. He was trying to be Mountlake Terrace’s Malcolm Johnson, who is listed at 5-10, 220 pounds.

“He hopped in there, every rep, all week,” Richardson said of Elliott. “That’s what helped us stop him. Our defensive line worked hard all week. Just a great week of practice, our best week of practice all year.”

Often, No. 1 seeds in the playoffs get the quote-unquote easy first game. You know, they face teams that just aren’t ready for the big stage. Well, Mountlake Terrace was no easy foe.

“They hit hard,” Mace said. “Respect to all those kids. They played hard, every down.”

The show goes on:
Yes, the berth to the state playoffs is an accomplishment. But Mathieson, the coach, just loves having at least seven more days with everybody.

“It’s another week I get to spend with them,” he said, looking at his players. “From Day 1, this group has been so much fun to be around. We’re guaranteed another week. We don’t have to put our pads away.”


The Titans led 51-0 just seconds into the third quarter.

A mobile quarterback?
Union quarterback Nolan Henry is not what one would call a running quarterback, but he showed off a nifty move early in the game, when it mattered, when no one thought it would ever be 51-0!

The Titans opened the game with a 13-play drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Leon Siofele. However, the Titans had to convert a fourth-down play earlier just to keep the drive alive.

It was fourth-and-8 from the Issaquah 24-yard line, and the Eagles looked poised to sack Henry. Instead, Henry escaped disaster, bought some time, and found Siofele for an 11-yard connection. First down, and the Titans were on their way.

Better than I thought:
In my game report, I was trying to explain just how good Union was this night. I was about to write the Titans scored on their first seven drives. Then I realized they didn’t really have a drive on the defensive touchdown. So then I wrote the first seven times they possessed the ball. On my drive home from Issaquah, I realized that, too, was inaccurate. The Titans did not possess the ball for one of their scores. Issaquah simply snapped a ball out of its own end zone for a safety.

So now I’m just going to say that Union was better than perfect during one stretch Friday night. The Titans scored on seven of their first six possessions! Is that 117 percent? Maybe I will get the ScoreCzar to figure out the win probability for a team that scores more times than it actually possesses the ball. I bet it’s a high number.

Too good. Honestly too good:
Different coaching staffs have different philosophies regarding blowouts and running clocks. Some teams will play hard for a half, no matter the score. Keep the starters in, keep the engine revved at full throttle. At least for a half. Some coaches give the starters at least one series in the second half. Regardless, on the road, in the playoffs, teams do not often have to worry about what they would do in a blowout. These games are not supposed to be this easy.

“Personally, I was kind of nervous before the game,” Union lineman Aaron Anderson said. “I’m a senior. I didn’t want the season to end.”

He and the Titans were not nervous for long.

Here was Union, up 44-0 with three minutes left in the second quarter. What to do? What to do?

On this night, at this venue, I was in the same room with the Union coaches in the booth. I could hear what they were saying. (By the way, these are usually off-the-record moments. In this case, I asked to use this note in my blog and was granted on-record status by the Titans.)

So the Union defense is doing its thing. You know, crushing Issaquah. That’s when I hear a coach upstairs inquire with the coaches on the field about using timeouts. The Titans could have used the timeouts on defense in order to get the ball back with plenty of time to score. You know, that’s a normal thing for a team to do. Even in blowouts, a lot of teams play to score for at least half the game.

The word from the field was no. Just play defense. Let Issaquah take its time, run some clock maybe. The Eagles would eventually punt, and the Titans took a knee two times to go into halftime up 44-0.

That tells you how well the Titans were playing. They showed mercy on a team, in the playoffs. IN THE FIRST HALF!

Leon is at it again:
Leon Siofele finished with 125 yards and four touchdowns in his half of action. He now has 23 rushing TDs this season and more than 1,800 yards. In 10 games. Even I know that’s good.

Anderson said it has been special for him and his fellow linemen to block for Siofele.

“I’ve been playing with Leon for seven years,” Anderson said. “It’s great to work hard for him and make big plays.”

No-fly zone:
To be honest, the Union defensive backs have not had a really strong season. In fact, there is a rumor out there that a local media outlet might have discussed the Union pass defense in its game preview that concluded with a prediction of an Issaquah victory. That’s a rumor anyway. Not sure if it’s true.

Well, it just so happens the Union defensive backs have been working a lot on their assignments in recent weeks. They sure looked ready on Friday. And with the defensive linemen getting pressure on the Issaquah quarterbacks and the linebackers doing their jobs, the Union defense was in shut-down mode for most of the night.

So here is a shout-out to the six defensive backs in the main rotation for the Titans: Thomas Lampkin, Marcus Boyd, Ethan Beniga, Jake Kronstad, Dupree Barber, and Caleb Browning.

The Eagles were 10 of 21 for 93 yards in the first half. True, the Eagles had better passing numbers in the second half, but it was 51-0 before that happened.

These Titans passed the passing test.

The Papermakers led 55-0 in this one.

These numbers don’t lie:
Not much more to add to this game. Assistant sports editor Tim Martinez captured the night perfectly with his lead in his game story.

“I told the players before the game, ‘This could be our last game together,’ ” Camas coach Jon Eagle said. “They just looked at me like, ‘Are you crazy?’ ”

Then the Papermakers went nuts on Monroe, routing the Bearcats …

So I will just do some basic math here:

The Papermakers have scored 568 points this season. This was Game 10. So, yeah, this team averages eight touchdowns a game. Averages.

The lowest total of the year has been 44 points.

Guess the only good news for potential opponents is Camas scored 30 fewer points Friday than in its previous game.

Now, read that sentence again, but only after reminding yourself that Camas scored 55 points on Friday night. Oh. My. Can’t. Compute.

Incredible, really.


The Storm won, too? What a league!

CBS and ESPN in talks to televise the GSHL?
A media friend of mine was at this game, and he was impressed. If this is the third-best team from the 4A GSHL, he said, then the 4A GSHL is the SEC of Washington high school football. Curtis is a good team. A good team that had no answer against Skyview.

No Columbian jinx here:
Jacob Dennis caught 10 passes for a career-high 200 yards for the Storm on Friday night. His big night should surprise none of you. I assume if you are reading this, you also read The Columbian! And you read all about Jacob Dennis in Friday morning’s paper. The leading receiver in the region saved his best game for the playoffs. Well done, Jacob.


The Chieftains score late to make it to state.

Seriously, there is no Columbian jinx here:
Some of you might recall that last week I noted that backup quarterback Gabe Evenson was so good against Mountain View that if he had to play this week, he could do the job.

Well, he did it. He had a lot of help, of course, but congrats to Gabe. He found Marcus Gaylor for the 83-yard touchdown pass with three minutes to play to break a 15-all tie.

Injuries happen to all teams. The best teams prepare everyone, just in case. The Chieftains were ready, and got the win.


The Beavers bounce back from their Week 9 loss to advance to state

Efficient Eli:
Eli Whitmire needed just seven carries to total 142 yards rushing. He rushed for two touchdowns and returned a punt for a TD. Not a lot of touches, but enough to pile up a bunch of numbers.


The Trico champs improve to 10-0.

Here are notes from our expert freelance reporter Rene Ferran.

Majoring in diversity:
La Center coach John Lambert knows last year’s trip to the state playoffs ended in the quarterfinals in part because the Wildcats offense became too one-dimensional.

That’s one reason he was so pleased to see senior quarterback Wyatt Aguirre add some balance to the attack Friday night, going 7-of-9 passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns.

“Elma was not going to let us run our power play 40 times tonight,” Lambert said. “It’s important that we’re able to throw the ball. We really want to put a defense in a pickle. What do you want to stop tonight?”

That balance helped the Wildcats roll up 611 yards of offense and 24 first downs, despite 1,200-yard rusher Conner Fulton touching the ball just 12 times.

“We were able to take advantage of the other things they were giving us, and get other players involved,” Lambert said.

Turf wars:
Lambert really wanted to have one more game on the La Center Middle School grass this season. But the weekend rains washed away any chance of that.

“A lot of it was sentimentality,” Lambert said, noting that last week’s game against Woodland might be the last at the middle school if lights are installed at the high school for next season. “But when we went out there Monday, the kids said to me, ‘Coach, this is bad.’ ”

The game was moved to Ridgefield’s new FieldTurf surface, and next weekend’s first-round state game will be either at Ridgefield or Trico league-mate Kalama.

“This is a lot better than grass,” said senior linebacker Trevor Roberson. “Because once you make it this far, it’s all turf from here.”

Turnover bug:
The only real black mark on Friday’s win was that the Wildcats had a season-high four turnovers, all on fumbles. The last one came late in the game with the second-stringers on the field, but the other three came while the game was in doubt.

The third fumble, when Aguirre was stripped following a long run into Elma territory, came with 5:13 left in the third quarter and La Center up only 40-21.

Aguirre made up for the fumble by hauling in a badly overthrown ball five plays later. The Wildcats cashed in on the interception shortly thereafter on Conner Wonderly’s 14-yard touchdown run.

“That’s the most turnovers we’ve had by far this year,” Lambert said. “But the kids really stepped up defensively in the second half, and that was key for us.”

Defensive leaders:
Roberson’s 12 tackles (eight solo, 1½ for loss) led the Wildcats, but he was hardly alone as La Center’s defense stepped up when it needed to, stopping Elma three times on fourth down in Wildcats territory.

Senior linebacker Isaiah Block’s sack of Collin midway through the third quarter stopped an Eagles drive that went from their 7 to the LC 38. He finished with seven tackles.

Senior tackle Jacob Livingston had 10 tackles (three for loss), and defensive end Max Hiller added nine (1½ for loss). Cornerback Matt Braaten had eight tackles, including a key fourth-down stop with 1:10 to play in the first half at the LC 6, to go along with a first-half interception and another pass breakup.


That’s it for this week.

Seven teams. Seven wins. If that happens next week, I just won’t ever go to bed!



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