True to its team-first philosophy, the Columbia River football team had a bevy of stars Saturday — Clayton Frank, Jayson Branson, David Snuffin, Terrell Bolton to name a few.
But on the other side of the ball, there was one player who hurt the Chieftains more than any other Kennedy Lancer — Colin Cossette.
Cossette did a bit of everything for Kennedy, from running to defense to punting. But in the end it was his big reception that set up the winning score in the Lancers’ 20-14 win in the Class 3A state first-round game at Kiggins Bowl.
“He is one special player,” River coach John O’Rourke said of Cossette.
Cossette rushed for 127 yards, had four punts that averaged 52.3 yards and was big on defense.
And although he seemed to be everywhere, River lost track of Cossette on the biggest play of the game.
With inside of two minutes to play, the run-first Lancers faked a run into the line from its own 36 yard line.
As the River defenders collapsed on the run fake, they lost track of Cossette, who slipped unguarded down the middle of the field and pulled in a 51-yard reception to give the Lancers a first down on the River 13.
Drew Thompson ran in the next play for a 20-14 lead with 1:15 left.
“We just made some critical errors,” O’Rourke said. “But the kids battled back every time. That’s to their credit.”
River did not roll over. Nathan Hawthorne returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to the River 48. Frank hit Bolton on three passes that got River to the Kennedy 25 with 20 seconds left.
But back-to-back incompletions ended River’s comeback bid, its six-game winning streak and its season.
“We told the kids before the game that once you reach the round of 16, every team is good and every team plays hard,” O’Rourke said. “But I’m proud of how well the team performed.”
Frank passed for 150 yards, Branson rushed for 94, and Snuffin had two sacks and was River’s leading tackler.
Yet it was mistakes that hurt River’s chances. Both of Kennedy’s first two touchdowns were set up by River fumbles.
The Lancers drove 28 yards after a River fumble to score in the first quarter, and 34 yards after another fumble to score in the third quarter.
It led to a season that ended at 7-4 for River and included a 3A Greater St. Helens League title.
“There’s a lot of disappointment now, but we can take a lot of reward from the season,” O’Rourke said. “We grew as a team. We learned to depend on each other, be supportive of one another. And our success grew out of that togetherness.”
KENNEDY 20, COLUMBIA RIVER 14
Kennedy 7 0 7 6–20
C. River 0 7 0 7–14
K — Colin Cossette 11 run (Cossette kick)
CR — Jayson Branson 11 run (Zach Perron kick)
K — Cossette 2 run (Cossette kick)
CR — Clayton Frank 1 run (Perron kick)
K — Drew Thompson 13 run (kick failed)
RUSHING — Kennedy: Cossette 22-127, Luis Diaz 8-41, Thompson 8-33, Conner Richardson 9-16, Nick Jang 1-6. Columbia River: Jayson Branson 13-94, Frank 13-40, David Snuffin 4-17, Remick Kawawaki 5-11.
PASSING — Kennedy: Richardson 8-13-0-107. Columbia River: Frank 16-28-1-150.
RECEIVING — Kennedy: Cossette 1-51, Thompson 5-30, Cole Madison 2-26. Columbia River: Terrell Bolton 5-51, Dante Coleman 5-46, Nathan Hawthorne 3-42, Clark Bryant 1-5, Trey Walker 1-4, Kawawaki 1-2