Wednesday, May 12, 2021
May 12, 2021

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On Further Review: Prairie marches to state berth on quick pace

Falcons averaging state-best 42.3 points a game

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The saying “Be quick, but don’t hurry,” can directly be applied to the Prairie football team’s offense.

Prairie scored touchdowns on 10 of 12 possessions in its 73-35 victory of Capital of Olympia on Friday to secure its first state berth since 1992.

And it did so at a fast pace in time of possession.

Its scoring drives lasted an average of 1 minute, 27 seconds, with four under-a-minute drives, including two in the first half, lasting less than 20 seconds. Its longest touchdown plays? Those came on runs of 70 or more yards by Dustin Shelby (78 yards) and AJ Dixson (71). Dixson’s run sealed Prairie’s final points with 3:13 to play in the game for a 73-29 lead.

“The offense keeps working harder,” said senior Treyce Teague after the win. “We’ve got playmakers and take advantage of it.”

Entering the postseason, Prairie averaged a state-best 42.3 points per game, and, like other state-bound football teams, awaits its fate Sunday to determine seeding for the state playoffs.

Prairie has scored 40 or more points in six games. Its previous season-high point total came in a 56-14 nonleague win over Black Hills.

Bad start, great finish

Washougal quarterback Dalton Payne’s Friday night started terribly.

On his first pass of the Panthers’ 28-7 district crossover win over W.F. West, he threw an interception. Under pressure, Payne rolled to his right and tossed it back across his body into double-coverage. W.F. West’s Carter McCoy came down with it.

“That first pass he was trying too hard to make the perfect throw,” coach Dave Hajek said. “It’s like he’s over-analyzing what he’s supposed to be doing.”

From then on, Payne was nearly perfect. He finished 21 of 26 for 214 yards and two touchdowns in the air. He also ran for two scores as the Panthers scored 28 unanswered points, all of which came from Payne.

It’s no surprise to his Panther teammates to see the senior signal-caller respond in the way he did. They’ve watched him do so his entire prep career.

“That’s leadership right there,” senior Brevan Bea said of his quarterback. “He’s one of the best leaders I know. For him to be out there, make mistakes and learn from them, that’s what makes a great football player.”

And now on Payne’s back, the Panthers ride into their first state tournament since 1999. Washougal will find out its opponent Sunday after the WIAA’s seeding committees meet.

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