Paul Valencia column: ‘Tis the season for plenty of thrills

By Paul Valencia, Columbian High School Sports Reporter



The thrills continue to be thrilling in high school sports.

The chills continue to be chilling.

No matter how many years the coaches coach or the writers write, sports still bring moments to remember.

One of the reasons is the people who really matter, the athletes, keep changing.

I’ve seen 300-yard rushing games, but Kevin Haynes of Battle Ground had never accomplished the feat.

Until Friday.

Coaches have seen quarterbacks shine in their debuts, but Reilly Hennessey of Camas had never known what it was like to start behind center on varsity.

Until Friday.

We’ve all seen 400-yard passing games, but Hennessey had never experienced one on varsity.

He has now.

The adventures are not reserved for just the football fields, of course. Football is, by far, the most popular high school sport in this region based on spectators and reader interest.

However, we understand that the top golfers, for example, work on their skills as much as top football players work on their skills. Wrestlers and gymnasts put their bodies through as much pain — probably more — than their basketball counterparts in the winter.

We also know that sometimes football can take a backseat to another sport.

Last fall, the Camas girls cross country team stunned the Washington running world with a state championship. The Papermakers’ performance knocked a football playoff game off the front page of The Columbian’s Sports section.

Those are news judgments, of course. Our assistant Sports editor, Tim Martinez, ruled that a state team championship was more newsworthy than an early round football playoff game. He was right. Even though football is more popular, for a day at least, football readers could simply turn the page. That was Camas cross country’s moment.

Those big news days are usually easy for us to figure out. But we also are committed to writing a feature on every sport sanctioned by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association. I started as the lead high school sports reporter at The Columbian in 2001. Proud to say we have written at least one feature on every sport, every season, every year.

If you’ve been reading the past few weeks, you might think we are just the Football Columbian. Well, that just goes with the calendar. Football previews take priority. But in the coming weeks, we will have features on all of the other fall sports. They won’t be previews. But we will get to every sport.

Because the thrills and chills are there for every sport, whether thousands of fans follow a particular team or dozens of fans do.

Last year was my 10-year anniversary of being in this position at The Columbian. I wrote a couple pieces, including a “Where Are They Now?” angle. Hope to do more this school year, too.

So as we prepare for the fall sports season of 2012, let’s look back 10 years ago.

Remember when:

• Evergreen beat Mountain View for the 4A GSHL football title. The teams combined to score four touchdowns in the final four minutes. Evergreen got the go-ahead score with 19 seconds left to win 19-15.

• Mountain View was the last Clark County 4A team standing that year, though, reaching the state semifinals for the second year in a row.

• Columbia River football reached the 3A state semifinals.

• Hudson’s Bay and Fort Vancouver were 4A teams. The Trappers started 2-0 in league play. The Eagles finished with a winning record.

• In volleyball, the Columbia River Chieftains finished second in the state, a year after winning the title. Pretty good run there.

If they keep competing, we’ll keep writing about them. Because no matter what sport they play, they all have great stories to tell.

Paul Valencia covers high school sports for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4557 or e-mail at