Anytime Alex McGarry and Garrett McKee get together, the conversation always seems to turn to a playoff football game in 2015 when both were seniors at Columbia River High School.
“Garrett and I are still good friends,” McGarry said. “And that game will come up from time to time, just how ridiculous the numbers were in that game, on both sides. It’s funny how often that game comes up. It was just nuts.”
Nuts as in 115 total points scored, 1,230 total yards, six touchdown passes for McKee with four to McGarry in a game that ended with a 60-55 win over Capital of Olympia in a Week 10 state preliminary playoff.
“It was just a crazy game all around,” McKee said. “Everything seemed to happen that could happen. … And it was just a super long game, like three hours. It was exhausting.”
It was a memorable game that almost didn’t happen for the two friends.
McGarry played football at River as a freshman, then stopped to focus on baseball, a sport that would later propel him to Oregon State. He signed a professional contract with the Cincinnati Reds last summer.
But with an assist to McKee, McGarry decided to play football again as a senior.
“I remember thinking ‘I’m pretty athletic; I think I can play football still,’ ” McGarry said. “And, of course, my best friend Garrett was the starting quarterback. He was in my ear trying to get me to come out.”
As the season progressed, McGarry’s role grew, and soon McKee had a new favorite target.
“The whole season we started to build a lot of chemistry,” McKee said. “That (Capital game) was kind of the exclamation point on it.”
After the Cougars scored on their first play of the game, River countered with McKee throwing three touchdown passes to McGarry — by the end of the first quarter.
“We called a few deep balls, and I kept getting behind the defense,” McGarry said, before turning to a baseball idiom. “It started with hitting a few home runs for touchdowns, then it was like he and I were really in rhythm.”
The two teams would go into halftime tied 34-34. Then River opened a 54-34 lead in the third quarter, including a fourth TD pass from McKee to McGarry that led to another memorable play.
McKee lofted a ball high and McGarry made a leaping catch. As the defensive back fell down, McGarry stood over him for a moment, before walking into the end zone.
“Yeah that was funny,” McKee said. “I definitely thought he was showing off a little bit, which was weird because he’s not that kind of guy. But he (later) said ‘I thought I was in the end zone already.’ ”
In the fourth quarter, Capital rallied back to take a 55-54 lead, leaving River 80 yards from the goal line with 3:37 to play.
“You know when you’re watching a game and you kind of think to yourself ‘This is a classic,’ ” McGarry said. “That’s kind of how it felt playing in that one.”
River marched downfield, converting third downs, including one when McGarry fumbled the ball, but it was recovered by teammate Koben Jamison.
“That could have ended it,” McKee said.
After a 48-yard pass to McGarry — his 12th catch for 309 yards — took the ball to the 1, McKee ran in for the winning touchdown.
The victory would be the final one in the long career for coach John O’Rourke.
“What a way to go out,” McGarry said.
COVID-19 restrictions have kept McGarry from beginning to work out with the Reds. So instead, he has been working out in Vancouver in hopes conditions will improve by spring training.
“It appears to be moving in slow motion, but I’m sure it will be here before we know it,” McGarry said.
In the meantime, he can still hang out with old friends and share good memories like the night of Nov. 6, 2015 at Kiggins Bowl.
“It’s always something we like to talk about whenever we get some guys from the team around,” McKee said.