Panthers solve Trappers

Washougal beats Fort Vancouver in football for the first time since 1988

By Dan Trujillo, Columbian staff writer

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Twenty-three years of payback for the Washougal High School football team came out in those last eight minutes.

The Panthers scored 31 points in the fourth quarter to blow Fort Vancouver out of Kiggins Bowl, by the score of 48-21. It’s the first time the Panthers beat the Trappers in football since 1988.

“It’s amazing how we were able to flip the switch and score all of those points. Our conditioning really paid off,” said Caleb Howard, a running back and a linebacker. “That second half is what Panther football is all about. We’re willing to do anything to get that win on the board.”

Howard had a huge night on both sides of the field. After scoring a touchdown in the second quarter, the senior grabbed a fumble and snatched an interception in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a good feeling for everyone when one of us scores a touchdown or gets a turnover,” Howard said. “It feels amazing to help the team out when I can, but it’s a complete team effort. There’s no ‘I’ in team.”

Teamwork kicked into high gear in the second half, when offensive linemen Christian Edmonson, Tyler Purkeypyle, Anthony Valdez, Jarrett Gregory, Dylan Ritchey and Zach Boland pushed the Trappers out of the way, and created holes for Howard, Sam O’Hara, Austin Tofell, Stephen Camden and Colton Sullivan to run through.

“When you have that many guys as Fort did in the box, it turns into a fist fight in a phone booth,” said head coach Bob Jacobs.

O’Hara racked up 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Howard had 66 yards rushing, a touchdown and a 2-point conversion run. Tofell delivered 62 yards rushing, Camden chipped in 54 yards rushing and a touchdown and Sullivan added a 17-yard touchdown run.

“Our O-line did a stellar job,” O’Hara said. “We couldn’t do anything without them. They led the way, which is their motto.”

The teams were tied 14-14 at halftime, and Fort Vancouver clearly had the edge and the confidence. A different Panther football team stepped on the field in the second half. One that could move the ball and play defense.

“In the locker room, I told the kids you either could be 3-0 or 2-1 and overrated,” Jacobs said. “Figure it out.”

The teams each made a series of defensive stops. Washougal finally got the edge, when O’Hara kicked a 37-yard field goal.

On the next defensive series, the Panthers pushed the Trappers to their own 2-yard line on fourth down. On the punt, Camden blocked the kick. Washougal won the scramble in the end zone and scored a 2-point safety. Fort had to kick off. Camden finished off that drive with a 7-yard touchdown, which gave the Panthers a 12-point advantage.

“I was pumped,” Camden said. “We scored two points and got the offense back on the field to score seven more. It was a game-changer.”

It wasn’t quite over yet. Fort fired back with a 92-yard kick off return for a touchdown on the next play. O’Hara then found his opening down the sidelines and scored a 55-yard touchdown for the Panthers. The Trappers fumbled the kick return, and Howard recovered the ball. Karsten Short leaped up and caught Sullivan’s 27-yard pass over his shoulder, before dragging his feet across the goal line for a touchdown. Sullivan ran in the final touchdown of the game.

Washougal (3-0) hosts Clatskanie for its Homecoming football game Friday, at Fishback Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Scoring 31 points in eight minutes soothed 23 years of pain for the Panthers, but Jacobs said the “payback tour” is just getting started.

“That’s a long drought,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to get that done, along with our two wins against a pair of 3A schools.”

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