BATTLE GROUND -- The Prairie Falcons are just glad this one does not count.
League play begins next week.
This week? The Prairie Falcons were short-handed Thursday night at District Stadium, and they fell short against the Mark Morris Monarchs.
Hayden Tapani and Kyle Stevens scored on consecutive long plays from the Mark Morris offense to jump out to a two-touchdown lead, and the Monarchs got another long one in the second half to top the Falcons 22-0.
Mark Morris of Longview will head into Class 2A Greater St. Helens League play with a 3-1 record.
Prairie, after starting the season with two wins, has lost two in a row as the Falcons prepare for the 3A GSHL.
"Win it. Point blank, win it," Prairie running back Ronnie Evenden said of the team's goal.
He even theorized that Thursday's loss will help in the long run because so many younger players gained valuable experience. Prairie was without four starters, and another starter was sick and his time was limited against the Monarchs.
"Lack of experience, mainly," said Evenden, giving reasons for the loss. "Not that it's a bad thing. Some kids had to step up."
Prairie coach Terry Hyde agreed with Evenden's assessment.
"This doesn't alter our goals at all," Hyde said. "The cupboard is not bare. The season is not over. It's never fun when you lose, but we're going to come back. We're going to get some kids healthy, and we'll be ready to go."
The Falcons were without starters Denzel Hamiel, Jason Bracken, Taylor Martin and Justin Pena.
"Not that that's an excuse, but it does have an impact," said Hyde, specifically pointing to defense. Bracken and Pena are starting linebackers.
Mark Morris got behind the Prairie defense for three long touchdowns.
Tapani scored on a 51-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter for the lead, the first play after a Prairie punt. After another Prairie punt, the Monarchs once again scored on the first play of a drive. This time quarterback Max Tilton found Kyle Stevens for a 69-yard touchdown to make it 14-0.
The Monarchs put the game away in the final minute of the third quarter when Tilton connected with Jake Malcolm for a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Prairie's best chance to score came in the final minute of the first half. But the Falcons were intercepted in the end zone with 6 seconds to play.
The Falcons would not reach the red zone again.
Now it's time for both teams to forget about this one. The results matter a lot more starting next week.
"It's a momentum builder. That's what we wanted to do tonight," said Tapani, who led the Monarchs with 106 yards rushing against the Falcons. "That's what we wanted to prove to people."
The Monarchs picked up their third win of the non-league season. League foes Hockinson, Washougal, and R.A. Long already have three wins.
"It's going to be tough. It's going to be a battle," Tapani said. "I'm really excited for league to start. I like that we have such a competitive league. Makes us want to practice harder, play harder, compete harder."
That is the mind-set the Falcons have going into their league opener next week against Mountain View.
"It's going to be hard," said Evenden, who led the Prairie rushing attack with 97 yards on 22 carries. "But we're going to make that playoff run. We're going to win it. That's our goal. No one said it's going to be easy."
MARK MORRIS 22, PRAIRIE 0
Mark Morris 0 14 8 0--22
Prairie 0 0 0 0-- 0
MM -- Hayden Tapani 51 run (kick failed)
MM -- Kyle Stevens 69 pass from Max Tilton (Keigan Baker run)
MM -- Jake Malcolm 56 pass from Tilton (Tilton run)
RUSHING -- Mark Morris -- Austin Smith 12-43, Tilton 5-12, Tapani 12-106, Baker 7-41, Cameron Mosier 4-(-3), Team 4-(-50). Prairie -- Ronnie Evenden 22-97, Dallas Goodpaster 8-30, Tyler Armstrong 1-(minus-8).
PASSING -- Mark Morris -- Tilton 4-9-0-137. Prairie -- Armstrong 2-13-2-7
RECEIVING -- Mark Morris -- Tapani 1-8, Baker 1-4, Stevens 1-69, Malcolm 1-56. Prairie -- Jordan Marti 1-8, Kyle Schulson 1-(minus-1).