The Stevenson-White Salmon rivalry had been roaring for years. Why not make it a, you know, official rivalry–trophy, catchy name and all?
Friday night marked the third consecutive year of the newly minted rivalry–the ‘Gorge Bowl’–and when the Bulldogs claimed victory, it hoisted the very trophy Hallead purchased two years ago. But this Gorge Bowl, unlike many in years past, had a lot hanging in the balance.
The two teams were competing for a league title.
Stevenson entered the game 4-0 in league play, White Salmon 3-1. The Bulldogs secured the 1A Trico League title outright with its 20-14 win Friday night, avoiding a potential multi-team tie were White Salmon and Castle Rock were to both win.
“They won the first year, I was a little upset about that,” Waymire said. “It wasn’t great for me. But now we’ve got it for two years. We’ve got a nice spot in our trophy case and we like to keep it there.”
Waymire doesn’t work at Stevenson High School. But he knows the players will relish at least another year of walking past the Gorge Bowl trophy in the high school’s trophy case.
Union’s title comes with battle tests
The Union Titans have been ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Class 4A rankings most of the season.
But their undefeated record hasn’t come easy.
It didn’t either Friday in a 14-7 victory over Camas to conclude the regular-season 9-0. The Titans were shut out in the second half after securing a 14-0 halftime lead with the defense stopping two potential game-tying fourth-quarter drives by Camas.
Union’s won five games by seven or fewer points: Mountain View (17-14), El Cerrito, Calif. (34-29), Puyallup (38-31), Skyview (21-15) and now Camas.
Senior quarterback Lincoln Victor, playing in his first game after missing the past two weeks (back), said the tough nonleague slate and the 4A GSHL schedule only prepares them better for what he describes as the third season: playoffs.
“These games we’re able to pull out and grind through,” he said, “is a testament to all the hard work we put in and all the adversity we’ve been set back with.”
Victor went a step further when talking about the adversity from the teachers’ strike at the start of the season to a rollercoaster California roadtrip that included a 17-hour busride and come-from-behind win to the recent passing of longtime assistant coach Mark Rego.
Flanagan’s record-setting night
Woodland’s Tyler Flanagan cemented his name into the record books early Friday by surpassing his father, Glen Flanagan’s, 30-year single-season rushing record in the first quarter.
That wasn’t the only record the younger Flanagan set in a 47-27 win over Mark Morris to close out the regular season.
Flanagan broke or tied eight school records, including single-game rushing (362), single-game rushing touchdowns (five), single-season rushing TDs (29) and total TDs in a season (30), and points in a season (192). yards in a game (362), rushing touchdowns.
Flanagan now has 1,768 rushing yards entering next week’s state preliminary round game at Tumwater.
The moment Prairie’s season changed
Prairie can point to the exact moment when the direction of its season changed.
Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Falcons trailed Hudson’s Bay 21-17 late in their Week 7 game on Oct. 12.
To make matters worse, starting quarterback A.J. Dixson was out, an icepack wrapped around the foot he injured late in the first half.
Backup quarterback Zackery Brown led a game-deciding drive, completing a 28-yard touchdown pass to Nolan Mickenham with 2:20 to play.
Prairie won that game 23-21, igniting a three-game winning streak that culminated with Friday’s 34-7 win over Evergreen. That victory clinched the No. 3 playoff seed in the 3A Greater St. Helens League, Prairie’s first postseason berth since 2011.
Dixson, who rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns Friday, said the Hudson’s Bay vcitory showed that Prairie could win even when faced with injuries and adversity.
“I got hurt and our backup quarterback Zack Brown had a hell of a game,” Dixson said. “I feel like without me, our team saw what Zack could do for the team. That put everyone else’s heads up. With me back, everyone’s heads are still up. It’s even better.”
Prairie coach Mike Peck said Dixson, even when hurt, was a leader on the sidelines. He said that maturity and poise spread throughout the team over the past three weeks.
“We fought some adversity and found a way to pull it out, but I wasn’t surprised though,” Peck said. “The kids, they kept believing the entire time. We knew all we had to do was win out, and we believed we could do that.”