Day After Report: Ridgefield 22, Columbia River 17

The Columbia River Chieftains could have assured themselves a share of the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League title with a win. (True, they still would have been the No. 2 seed, but a title is a title.) However, Ridgefield was playing for something important, too.
If you saw my story from Thursday’s game, you know the Spudders were playing for pride.
But not just pride in themselves and their school. They also were playing for the rest of the 2A GSHL.
Several players told me after the game that they remember when the news broke that Columbia River was moving from Class 3A to 2A. And that so many people just figured Columbia River would roll in the 2A GSHL.
The Spudders said they wanted to show the Chieftains, and anyone else who thought that way, that the 2A GSHL is pretty competitive. There are no gimmes.
Interestingly, The Columbian picked Columbia River to win the league. However, it wasn’t because the Chieftains were a 3A program last season. I think most objective observers would have told you that Hockinson, as the 2A GSHL champion, was better than Columbia River, the 3A GSHL champion, last year.
No, The Columbian picked the Chieftains this year because of their depth — they have a huge program — and strong looking line, AND Hockinson had lost so many seniors to graduation.
Well, it turns out Hockinson is still good, and the Hawks beat the Chieftains this year in league play.
Congrats to the Hawks.
Still, the Chieftains and the Hawks could have finished with the same league record and shared the league title had Columbia River won on Thursday night.
Nope, the Spudders weren’t having any of it.
They proved there are no gimmes, even for the the former 3A school getting its first taste of the 2A GSHL.

It was meant to be a compliment:
I sent out a tweet late Thursday noting that the Columbia River student section was doing the “I believe” chant, as in “I believe that we will win!”
I seriously loved it.
Of course, we’ve all heard it before, but usually that chant is before a game, or, when it’s late in a game, when the team is winning by a lot with just a few minutes remaining.
In this case, River students were chanting this when the Chieftains got the ball back, down by five points, with time for one more play.
So I loved hearing this chant, this positive energy.
But I also had to explain (in 140 characters or less) why it was such a cool chant for that time. I explained to my followers who were not at the game that River would need a sports miracle to actually win.
It was my intent to compliment the River students for still believing. Because, yes, that would have been a sports miracle. The Chieftains were 84 yards away from the end zone with time for one play!
Anyway, I promise it was meant as a compliment. Some, I believe, thought I was making fun of either the students or the team.
No way.
I believe. I believe that. I believe that I was misunderstood (by a few).

Defensive notes:
Brock Harrison of Ridgefield is a sophomore. He played like a sophomore … a sophomore in college. Seriously, the dude had himself a monster night. He scored his team’s first touchdown, but he really impressed with defense, with a third-down tackle-for-loss on one drive and a third-down sack on another. I noted those in my game story. Here are a few other defensive gems I noticed:
Riley Abrams with a big tackle-for-loss, chasing down a play designed to go wide. … Tamarick Mendoza, a defensive lineman, getting a pass defense. … Kevin Miser with  a tackle-for-loss. … And Keanu Hussey who made up ground on a long pass play and knocked the ball away for a pass defense.
Columbia River:
Mason Schell with a sack for a loss of seven yards. … Shawn Sadler with a third-down sack for a loss of eight yards.

Big catches:
You already know about Ridgefield’s Conner Bell. He had seven catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Columbia River’s Nathan Kunz had a nice catch, too. River was facing second-and-30 after a series of penalties. No problem. Go deep Nathan. He jumped and outmuscled a Ridgefield defender for a 34-yard gain.

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