Paul Valencia: Lessons learned from one wild play (with ESPN video)

Paul Valencia: High School Sports

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter


Updated: September 17, 2013, 12:22 PM


National angle

“The Play” from the Columbia River-Skyview football game received national attention on Monday Night Football.

ESPN nominated the play, along with three others, in its “C’mon Man!” segment prior to the NFL Monday night game. The nation gave the Monday Night Football halftime highlight honor to “The Play” with 48 percent of the vote.

(A video the ESPN segment is at the bottom of this column.)

The Storm went one way.

River Flow went the other way.

Touchdown, Columbia River.

By now, you know about the play. It found its way to a national website and then eventually to both ESPN and Fox Sports 1.

Skyview celebrated a victory, but the game was not quite over. Columbia River got to celebrate last with a 29-24 victory.

Here are a number of shout-outs to those who made this play so memorable.

• • •

Don't judge the Storm:

It is easy for fans to criticize the players for not realizing the blocked kick was still a live ball. But please, put yourself in these players' position.

In the NFL or college, there are game-winning field goals attempted every week. How many do you see in high school, on the last play of a game? Even fewer in youth football.

So the experience factor comes into play.

I'd guess none — or very few — of the players had ever been in such a situation, trying to block a field goal with a one-point lead on the final play.

As soon as the Storm blocked the kick, they thought they had won.

Understandable. The Skyview coaches will not judge, either.

"It wasn't just the kids," Skyview coach Steve Kizer said. "We coaches were jumping up and down, going crazy, too."

• • •

The River players:

Jason Harmsen was the holder on the play. He is the one on the video who can be seen with his facemask on the ground after the block.

"I heard the thud," he said, noting the sound of a blocked kick. "I thought it was over. I looked up and I see Reese running down the field, and the refs were following him. I saw the ref put his hands up, and I freaked out."

Reese would be the guy with the football, Reese Keller.

There is a disagreement over the ownership of that football now. Officially, it belongs to the Columbia River football program, and head coach John O'Rourke is in charge of it.

"He's not getting it," Keller said. "My parents say they will buy him a new one."

The kicker, Codie Schoene, might be the only one disappointed with the outcome. OK, he's not really disappointed. He's thrilled River won. But, still, he said with a smile: "Just make the field goal. That would have been a lot better for me."

Not as memorable for everyone else.

• • •

The not-so-controversial finish:

After such a bizarre play, of course there were some from Skyview who wanted to know what happened. With social media the way it is, rumors were flying about a potential appeal.

Actually, this play did not warrant an appeal. Still, the officials were willing to meet with the athletic directors and go over the video.

As I wrote in Sunday's paper, there was no need for that. The video showed the play was called correctly.

Kizer said he appreciated the willingness of all involved to at least look at the video. He never claimed the officials got it wrong. He just did not see what had happened because his view was, excuse the expression, blocked.

"It seemed like there were a thousand kids on the field in a second," he said.

After the block, Kizer said he never saw the rest of the play, until he saw the video.

• • •

Fantastic job:

Our society loves pointing out when game officials miss a call. It is only fair then to once again say "Great job" to these guys. They did not flinch. With all the chaos around them, the play was still live.

• • •

Good sports:

In a rivalry game, there are plenty of examples of bad blood over social media. Some fans take it too seriously.

The players, from what I saw, showed a lot of respect to one another.

Columbia River's Jayson Branson used Twitter to ask River fans to tone down the negative remarks toward the Storm. He ended it with, "Much respect to Skyview."

Skview's Jacob Dennis later tweeted shout-outs to some of the River players, noting it was fun to play against them.

With all that was going on, and how the game ended, those interactions just might have been the best plays of the night.

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

View the ESPN video and The Columbian's YouTube video of the win.