Day After Report: Hockinson wins and the power of Twitter

Twitter had some issues right about the time for most of the kickoffs Friday night in high school football. Perhaps the only good thing about Twitter being down is we appreciate how much Twitter has helped high school sports reporters and fans.

These days, we get instant scoring updates. Mostly from Twitter.

Every week, Tim Martinez runs our “Live Chat” that takes all the tweets from all of our reporters and puts them into one spot for fans of Southwest Washington football. I have described it as a Red Zone Channel for our area. No live video, but at least fresh updates from every game.

I usually tweet using my computer, but at my game last night, my computer was not easily accessible in a very small press box. So I planned on tweeting from my phone. Whoops. Twitter was having issues with mobile devices. Doh!

Fortunately, things got fixed soon enough. I gave enough updates in the first half. And in the second half, I was able to tweet more regularly.

But I certainly did not like that feeling at the beginning of the game. I know most of you are at games, but some of you also check your phone for updates from other games. There are those at home, looking at our live chat. We know you rely on us for updates. We appreciate you, too, and we thank you for your patience.

Here is another reason Twitter is such a big help in my part of the world: Identifying players who are not on rosters.

Friday night, in two different games, we had guys make big plays but their names were not on the rosters. I asked on Twitter who was wearing No. 66 for Hockinson, so I could get his name in the paper. It only took a few minutes for me to get the answer. Ryan Sleasman got that sack for Hockinson.

A Columbia River athlete had two catches, but his number was not listed on the roster. Our reporter at that game went to Twitter. Sure, enough, he got the name.

Now to the game notes. The main event for Friday was Hockinson vs. Woodland. Two undefeated teams coming into Week 8. (Yes, the main event, meaning the biggest game in our area. All other games might have been important but not quite as important as this game. The main event! Deal with it.) … Nothing really surprising happened in the 4A GSHL. … Heritage got a win in an interesting way … Stevenson won in Castle Rock. Been a long time since that happened. … La Center won another league title. … And we have confirmed there was a 400-yard rushing game from Washougal’s Brandon Casteel.

Hawks take control of the 2A GSHL

Double threat: The Hockinson Hawks do not have a No. 1 running back. That’s because they have two.

Coming into the game, Austen Johnson had 852 yards this season while Tommy Harshaw had 827. If a defense stops one, the other will surely find a way.

This season, defenses have not been able to stop either of them.

Against Woodland, Johnson was contained. He ended up with 83 yards on 24 carries, for an average of 3.5 yards per carry. Harshaw, though, got the big breakthrough, busting through a hole for a 67-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Hawks a 14-0 lead. Harshaw finished with 109 yards on 10 carries.

“We worked so hard for this game,” Harshaw said. “We wanted this more than anything. That’s the name of the game. Go Hawks, man. Go Hawks.”

Harshaw also noted the opponent got the Hawks’ attention all week in practice.

“We came to practice every day focused, with the mentality of wanting to win. We knew what are competitors were like. We were ready to go up against that,” Harshaw said.

By the way, don’t think for a minute that Johnson did not have a say in Harshaw’s big night.

Those 24 carries? That’s a load. It takes a toll on a defense, too. Johnson runs hard. He does not go down easily. Every time he touched the ball, it took a little energy out of the Woodland defense. And that creates opportunities for his teammate. Next week, Johnson might have the most yards rushing. This week, it was Harshaw. Both did their jobs Friday night.

Up front: Of course, the running backs cannot do much without the guys up front blocking for them.

“We have a great line,” left tackle Will Ortner said. “We made great holes for our running backs and our running backs see them, they find them. We just work well together.”

Not over yet: Woodland could have won the 2A Greater St. Helens League with a win Friday night. Hockinson, though, has not clinched No. 1. The Hawks have one more league game.

And should the Hawks stumble against R.A. Long, there would be a three-way tie for first place, along with Woodland.

“We know we still have a huge game in front of us,” Hockinson coach Rick Steele said. “Nothing’s over for us. We still have a tough week of football to play.”

Woodland power: Woodland coach Mark Greenleaf appreciated the effort from both teams, playing in what he called the worst mud he has seen in a long time.

“Hand it to Hockinson. They did a great job tonight,” Greenleaf said. “Our kids, too. It was 7-zero at the half. Our kids came fighting back.”

I noted a few of the big Hockinson defensive plays in the game story. Woodland, too, had big moments on D. Nathan Cloud, Eli Whitmire, Cooper Lucas, Tristan Thomas each had tackles-for-loss. Austin Goff had a sack. Whitmire also had a fourth-down stop.

Stats: Hockinson finished with 224 yards, all rushing. The Hawks dropped back to pass once, but were sacked. (In high school football, a sack is considered rushing yards.) … Woodland ended up with 131 yards of offense, 75 rushing, 56 passing. The Beavers were held to 52 yards of offense until they picked up 79 yards on their final drive of the game, which ended up being a touchdown with 1:25 left on the clock.

I promise you that Camas won.

Uh oh: So this afternoon I went to Twitter to relay the message to other newspapers throughout the state that Camas did, indeed, win this game. Mountain View was listed as the winner in at least a few big newspapers because the statewide scores service that most newspapers use listed Mountain View as the winner.

Hope word gets out that Camas is, indeed, still undefeated.

(Now for some notes from Paul Danzer:)

Really, really good: Camas quarterback Liam Fitzgerald completed his first eight passes. His ninth pass was intercepted by Anthony Ramirez, then his next six were completed.

Fitzgerald said the Camas offense is better than he envisioned it becoming.

“It’s past what I envisioned. The first few games I was nervous. Now I’m feeling more in rhythm. Everyone’s feeling more in rhythm and we’re just playing football.”

His only other three incompletions came in the final 46 seconds before halftime. No problem for Camas, though, because the Papermakers have a kicker with a strong leg. The drive stalled, but Camas still got points when Caleb Lightbourn hit a 43-yard field goal to close the first half.

Thunder plays: Mountain View had some success running the ball early, but the Thunder’s big plays were passes. A 30-yard pass from Colin Biggs to Jeff Adams got the ball to the Camas 20 in the second quarter, but an intentional grounding penalty foiled that scoring chance.

A 31-yard pass play to Corey Henderson started a 54-yard drive that ended with the first Mountain View touchdown, a Garrett Jones 6-yard catch 52 seconds from halftime.

We’ve seen this before …

Setting up Week 9 showdown: Caleb Browning rushed for 279 yards and three touchdowns for the Titans. Josh Emmy and Blake Ingram combined for four rushing touchdowns for the Storm. These two teams play each other next week for second place in the 4A GSHL and a home playoff game in Week 10. … Yes, just like last year, Camas is No. 1 and and Skyview and Union will play for second place.

Non-league, but it’s a win for the Timberwolves.

No offensive touchdowns, no problem: Heritage scored on the first play of the game when Jarod Luedecker returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown. In the second quarter, Cole Foley intercepted a Kelso pass and returned it for a pick-six and a 14-0 lead. So Heritage did not find the end zone on offense, but its defense did enough for the victory.

No hangover from last week’s loss to Skyview, and no looking ahead to next week’s showdown with Kelso for the Chieftains on Senior Night. (These notes courtesy Rene Ferran.)

Scoreboard watching: One of the more popular games this time of year is looking at the statewide scores list and trying to figure out how it affects who you might play come the postseason.

A Columbia River assistant coach has all the permutations figured out after studying the Metro League standings and working through the three-division, 16-team jigsaw puzzle to determine the Chieftains’ possible fate:

  • Win next week against the Highlanders, and River hosts the Metro’s No. 6 team at Kiggins Bowl on either Nov. 7 or 8. Right now, that looks to be the loser of next week’s game between Garfield and Nathan Hale.
  • Lose next week in Kelso, and River has to travel to play the Metro’s No. 3 team. That looks to be the winner between O’Dea and Ballard … OK, let’s be honest, that means the River-Kelso loser has to play the perennial powerhouse Irish in Seattle.

Needless to say, there will be a lot riding on next week’s matchup in Kelso.

Long senior night: It took River awhile to get through Senior Night festivities. The Chieftains honored 26 players who took to the River Stadium field for the final time Friday.

Coach John O’Rourke made sure all of them got to see action and tried to get as many of the skill players into the stats book as he could, even if that meant third-string quarterback Dalton Garrett throwing a screen pass in the final minute to senior Ian Crouse (unfortunately, Crouse couldn’t haul it in).

“Everyone played hard the whole way, and I was able to get all the seniors in and a lot of other people in as well,” O’Rourke said.

Evenson’s career night: Senior QB Gabe Evenson couldn’t recall ever throwing five touchdown passes in a game.

Not even in Grid Kids? “Not that I can remember, no sir,” he said.

Evenson’s big night came in both small bites (senior Carson Bassett caught eight passes for 54 yards, a 6.8 average) and huge chunks (senior Holden Fielding hauling in a 68-yard bomb that pretty much sealed the win after Prairie fumbled the ball away on fourth down).

The short, safe passes came early on, while a steady drizzle fell from the skies. As the rain dissipated, that’s when the intermediate and deep routes opened up.

“The coaches definitely were making great adjustments (with the play calls), and that helped me to make good decisions,” Evenson said. “And I had no worries all night thanks to the big guys up front. I was hardly touched, so I knew I could get a good ball out.”

Third- and fourth-down success: Another key to River’s victory was its ability to convert on third and fourth downs, not letting the Prairie defense off the field.

On their second scoring drive, the Chieftains twice converted on third down, and two of Evenson’s touchdown passes came on fourth-down plays.

For the game, the Chieftains were 8-for-13 on third down, and they finished with 26 first downs to the Falcons’ eight.

“It’s nice to be able to have the confidence that you can make those, because they’re usually drive killers,” O’Rourke said. “We were pretty effective driving the ball for long distances. When you’re not doing that, that usually means that you’re being sloppy in your play.”

Defensive leaders: Senior Nathan Hawthorne led River with eight tackles, while Hunter Graham added six. Prairie junior Andrew Daniel had a team-high seven tackles, including one of the Falcons’ four sacks, while Eric Creamer had six tackles and forced a fumble.

A 400-yard rushing night for Brandon Casteel.

Really? Whenever a player has a night like this, it’s always good to double-check. Well, it appears we were on the same page as the Washougal stat keeper.

A Washougal representative called the office last night because he wanted his numbers double-checked. Sure enough, both he and our reporter, Kyle Bliquez, had Casteel for more than 400 yards rushing.

By the way, Fort Vancouver, which has been struggling most of the season, had a 21-6 lead in this game. So that’s a positive sign for the Trappers.

Then Washougal went to Casteel and Casteel and Casteel again. Why not? Clearly, it was working. In all, The Columbian had Casteel at 40 carries for 401 yards and four touchdowns.

Wildcats back in the top spot.

League champs: This should be a surprise to no one, but the La Center Wildcats are Trico League champs again.

This year was a bit different, though. La Center had a very slow start with a very tough non-league schedule. Plus, there were injuries early in the season that left the team short-handed.

Now it appears La Center is hitting its peak at just the right time. La Center, 5-3 overall, is now 4-0 in league and has clinched the No. 1 seed.

I’m told the seniors on this team are the first to go through a program with four consecutive league titles. Congrats to all the Wildcats.

That was a long time comin’

Groovy, man: Apparently this was Stevenson’s first win in Castle Rock since the 1960s.

More importantly, Stevenson improved to 3-1 in Trico League play and is in line to host a Week 10 playoff game.

That’s cool.

That’s it for this week. Looking forward to Week 9 … and beyond.




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