Day After Report: Battle Ground 48, Prairie 14
The Tigers did their best this past week to ignore the 800-pound gorilla on their practice field.
Now that they’ve gotten past their intradistrict rivals, though, they can focus all their attention on that big ol’ monkey that’s been on their backs the past four years – the Camas Papermakers.
“It’s the biggest game of the year,” said senior quarterback Gunner Talkington in what might be the biggest understatement of the year.
The last time Battle Ground notched a win over Camas was 1992. A lot has changed since then. The Papermakers transformed from lightweights – one winning season in the decade of the 1990s – to a regional powerhouse whose last losing season was 1999 and owns a 34-game 4A GSHL winning streak.
Included in that streak are wins in the last four years over the Tigers – part of an overall eight-game win streak in the series – by an average margin of 41.8 points. The Papermakers scored 85 points in their 2013 matchup and 77 in 2014. Last year, the final was only 42-6, although BG played a heck of a lot better than that score indicates.
Senior receiver Max Randle zeroed in on what the Tigers need to improve upon if they want to pull the upset. “We can't keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said, referring to six turnovers a year ago, “and on defense, we can't give up stupid penalties.”
Easier said than done, as Camas’ last 34 GSHL opponents will attest.
The Tigers’ chances took a hit late in the second quarter when senior Austin Adams was injured on a play that didn’t even count.
Adams, the team’s leading receiver coming into the game with 29 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns, twisted his right knee when a teammate rolled into him after an inadvertent whistle blew on an apparent Prairie touchdown run.
“He slowed up when he heard the whistle, and other players didn’t, and our guy hit him,” said BG coach Larry Peck. “There was just a weird, unfortunate mix to the play.”
Peck didn’t have any details about the extent of Adams’ injury after the game. Adams was taken to the hospital for further testing.
Adams may not be the only person on crutches at Tigers practice this week. Peck has a bad back that has plagued him the past few years, but he tweaked something last week, and he needed crutches to walk the sidelines Friday.
Peck said he faced offseason surgery to repair the injury. If all goes right for his team, that may be a long time in the future.
On the other sideline, second-year Prairie coach Kevin Baker continued to search for answers to his team’s offensive struggles.
The Falcons managed only 32 yards of total offense in the first half in falling behind 34-6, and they finished with just 141.
“We just can’t sustain a drive,” Baker said. “Penalties, bad pitches …we just shot ourselves in the foot all night. Battle Ground blitzed us and came at us harder than we did at them.”
Like Battle Ground, the Falcons head into league play next week, facing Evergreen in a GSHL 3A matchup at District Stadium.
Unlike Battle Ground, they do so with a winless record.
“We’ve had four tough games, so we’ve had lots of opportunities to learn,” Baker said. “They’d better be ready.”
This and that: Battle Ground improved to 22-16 all-time in its rivalry with Prairie with its third straight win in the series. … The Tigers are 4-0 for the first time since 2012, when they opened 5-0, only to finish 5-4. … The Falcons, meanwhile, are 0-4 for the first time since 2002, when they finished the year winless. … Prairie senior Jaelen Stephen had a game-high 11 tackles, while sophomore Joey Arrunatogui made two tackles for loss, including a sack. … The BG defense combined for 11 tackles for loss, including four sacks. Senior Curtis Stradley was in on two sacks, had a solo tackle for loss, and forced a fumble. Brady Brick, a Portland State commit, had 1½ sacks, and senior Kolton Lehto had 1½ tackles for loss.