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Friday, February 23, 2024
Feb. 23, 2024

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Friday Night Flashback: Evergreen took big step in 2002 win over Mountain View

Plainsmen started on path toward state title 2 years later

By , Columbian staff writer

It’s a game that both head football coaches remember for mostly the same reasons.

From a downpour that never let up to a rivalry that was at its peak in 2002.

For Evergreen and Mountain View, the stakes reached a high point when they met for the 4A Greater St. Helens League title on a rain-soaked Thursday night at McKenzie Stadium.

Cale Piland, in his second year as Evergreen’s head coach at the time, viewed his Plainsmen as the underdogs against a Mountain View squad that reached the state semifinals a year earlier.

Mike Woodward, now Woodland’s head coach, recalls that Mountain View team as one of his best “top to bottom” he’s had over his head-coaching career. But Evergreen’s 19-15 victory on Nov. 7, 2002, over the Thunder behind a flurry of points by both teams in the final 4 minutes helped pave the way for what was to come for the Plainsmen the next two seasons.

It also was the first of four league titles for the program, which Piland, now the district’s athletic director, said was a turning point under his direction.

“It was a huge step forward for our program to win the league championship (outright),” Piland said earlier this week. “Most people didn’t expect us to do that. … I think our kids could see what we were trying to do, and where we were trying to take the program.”

Piland said his team hit its stride mid-season, and both Evergreen and Mountain View entered Week 9 unbeaten in league.

The game didn’t disappoint, either. A first-half defensive battle turned into a scoring fest with four touchdowns in the final 4 minutes. Walker and Mountain View’s Matt Hoss traded off big play after big play in that same span.

Piland said Walker, who went on to play linebacker at Princeton, was a player used in different ways and scenarios based on matchups. On what turned out to be the go-ahead drive, Walker, a receiver, lined up at tight end and caught a 32-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Miller to set up a first-and-goal at the 1. Evergreen took the lead for good with 19 seconds to play after Mountain View scored 39 seconds earlier.

“They (Mountain View) saw him play a position he hadn’t played all night,” Piland said.

Before the snap, Piland remembers Mountain View’s coaching staff trying to get their players’ attention on Walker.

So does Woodward.

“Our coaches were screaming at our kids,” Woodward recalled this week. “Our coaching staff saw it. But our players didn’t adjust.

“That, for whatever reasons, that awful memory sticks in my brain. (Walker) was dynamite.”

The defeat was a small bump in the road for Mountain View. Like it did in 2001, it reached the state semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Kentwood. Evergreen lost in the first round of state to Capital of Olympia, but the regular-season finale in 2002 was a direction-changer and jump-started a run that included a state semifinals appearance in 2003, capped by an undefeated 2004 championship season.

“When you’re building a program,” said Piland, “you have to get some of those wins so your kids can see the fruits of their labor and push you in the direction you want to go.

“It was definitely the case at that game.”

Original game story

Evergreen tops Mountain View in soggy 4A GSHL title game
Evergreen's Brig Walker made the last of several big plays, leading the Plainsmen to a 19-15 victory Thursday over the Mountain View Thunder and giving…