Survive, then eventually, thrive.
What the Fort Vancouver Trappers gained in their first season playing an independent football schedule goes beyond what Saturday’s scoreboard showed: a 42-7 loss to West Seattle.
Second-year coach Neil Lomax addressed that postgame and the players took that to heart.
“It means a lot to know we can look back,” junior linebacker Troy Bearden said, “and have something to look back on that was really great for the season.”
The Trappers accomplished a lot in 2019 as an independent. For starters, the program won its first game since 2016 by defeating Northwest Christian of Lacey to snap a 30-game losing streak. Second, the game is believed to be the first varsity football contest on Fort Vancouver’s campus since the school relocated to 18th Street in 1970.
Kiggins Bowl is home for Fort, Hudson’s Bay and Skyview football teams. but Saturday was a true home game on Fort Vancouver’s turfed field installed in 2018. Family fun and a neighborhood environment is what athletic director James Ensley’s goal was for bringing the regular-season finale to campus, a game put in motion by former athletic director Julie Pagel last year, Ensley said,
“Were closer to home and we’re at home,” Ensley said, “and we want to try to do something different to bring some momentum and some different looks toward our football program and what we’re trying to do at Fort Vancouver.”
It all made for a fun game-day atmosphere on true home turf. An estimated 300 fans attended the game that featured pre-game festivities from cornhole game to parking lot tail-gaiting.
Against West Seattle, the Trappers’ highlights included interceptions by Ethan Esparza and Eli Reynolds and a trick play for its lone touchdown. Reynolds’ interception set up Fort’s touchdown on a double-reverse that ended with Isaac Martinez hitting quarterback Trevor Narvasa for a 12-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Big plays carried the Wildcats, especially in the second half. Quarterback Kenny Nguyen threw for 256 yards and three touchdown passes of 50 or more yards.
Fort concluded its first independent season 1-8 overall. Three of its losses came by a combined four touchdowns, and Bearden believes 2019 is the start of what’s to come at Fort.
“We have hope for next year,” he said. “This season, it was about sticking it out, to keep going and not give up. That one win means everything.”
Bearden is in his third year in Fort’s football program and was part of consecutive 0-9 seasons when Fort played in the 3A Greater St. Helens League, He, like other teammates, experienced their first victory in football last week when the Trappers defeated Northwest Christian of Lacey 32-22.
Narvasa, the senior quarterback and safety who had the touchdown reception Saturday, returned to football this fall. As a baseball standout and one of five departing seniors, he said this season is the most fun he’s had on a sports team. And he’s watched player commitment and work ethic soar, as the program continues to change in the right direction.
“We have the right mindset with it,” Narvasa said. “I’ve never put in more time into a sports program than this year, and I realize that hard work really does pay off.”
WEST SEATTLE 42, FORT VANCOUVER 7
West Seattle 14 10 12 6—42
Fort Vancouver 0 7 0 0—7
WS — Tom Nguyen 3 run (Owen Jacobs kick)
WS — Jaxton Helmstetler 53 pass from Kenny Nguyen (Jacobs kick)
WS — Douglas Voellger 5 pass from Kenny Nguyen (Jacobs kick)
FV — Trevor Narvasa 12 pass from Isaac Martinez (Said Vargas kick)
WS — Owens 23 FG
WS — Jimmy Fornby 54 pass from Kenny Nguyen (pass failed)
WS — Fornby 84 pass from Kenny Nguyen (kick failed)
WS — Tom Nguyen 49 run (run failed)
RUSHING — West Seattle: Tom Nguyen 20-119, Jaxton Helmstetler 2-8, Kenny Nguyen 1-4, Axel Johnson 1-(minus-4), Mark Ursino 2-7, Connor Concannon 1-15, Team 3-(minus-20); Fort Vancouver: Trevor Narvasa 1-(minus-2), Amen Red 2-2, Aydin Scharbrough 2-2, Juan Carlos Cifuentes 14-45, Team 2-(minus-10).
PASSING — West Seattle: Kenny Nguyen 10-15-1-253; Jaxton Helmstetler 1-1-0-24; Axel Johnson 0-2-1-0; Fort Vancouver: Trevor Narvasa 9-19-1-60; Isaac Martinez 1-2-1-12.
RECEIVING — West Seattle: Jimmy Fornby 3-146, Christian Halter 1-24, Jaxton Helmstetler 3-73, Douglas Voellger 2-19, Tom Nguyen 2-15, ; Fort Vancouver: Juan Carlos Cifuentes 3-16, Trevor Narvasa 1-12, Eli Reynolds 4-6, Isaac Martinez 1-35, Evan Mendez 1-3.