WOODLAND — Columbia River football has dealt with plenty of adversity over the past year. Who hasn’t?
When presented with one more hurdle Saturday, River relied on the lessons from the past several months to overcome and rally to a 22-13 season-opening victory over Woodland.
Immediately after the opening whistle — there are no kickoffs or punts this season — returning River quarterback Mason Priddy took the snap, dropped back, looked to his left and threw it toward a slanting receiver. Woodland sophomore Justin Philpot jumped in front. Interception.
“That did not feel good at all; I was definitely upset with myself,” Priddy said.
The Beavers went on to take a 13-3 lead on JJ Fuerst (1 yard) and Mark Morales (11 yard) scores. Columbia River responded with 19 unanswered points to earn the 2A Greater St. Helens League victory.
Mason Priddy threw for 122 yards and a 3-yard score and Dylan Keir rushed for 64 yards on 9 carries. Eddie Hockhalter added 34 yards and a 1-yard touchdown on 10 carries.
River junior Adam Huerena was a perfect representation of how hard his squad worked in the offseason. After an offseason spent in a personal weight room, Huerena’s physicality was abundantly clear Saturday.
He caught 5 passes for 55 yards and a 1-yard receiving touchdown from Priddy at the halftime horn. When River needed a big conversion, Huerena was always there.
“He just finds that space,” Priddy said. “It’s that football IQ.”
Huerena avoided talking too much about himself in a postgame interview, instead insisting he wanted to be known as a team player. With more games like Saturday’s, in which he also recovered a second-half fumble, the junior will become a popular name in the 2A GSHL.
For Woodland, Fuerst, best known for his wrestling acumen, ran for 112 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. He also threw for 54 yards on five attempts as the Beavers ran a slowed-down run-heavy offense, a far cry from coach Mike Woodward’s past offenses.
“It’s awkward,” Woodward said of the new style. “I’m constantly reminding myself to slow down.”
Morales added 70 yards on six carries and Dalton Beassie finished with 69 yards on eight carries. Philpot had a pair of interceptions. Woodland also turned the ball over on fumbles twice, the second of which was recovered by River senior Samuela Kaumatule.
Columbia River plays R.A. Long on Friday at Kiggins Bowl. Woodland travels to Hockinson for a Saturday game as the shortened five-game slate continues.
Columbia River 22, Woodland 13
Col. River;3;12;0;7 — 22
Woodland;7;6;0;0 — 13
W — JJ Fuerst 1 run (Emmanuel Cruz kick)
CR — Cade Lujan 27 FG
W — Mark Morales 11 run (run fail)
CR — Eddie Hockhalter 1 run (kick fail)
CR — Adam Huerena 1 pass from Mason Priddy (kick fail)
CR — Priddy 3 run (Lujan kick)
RUSHING — CR: Max Sturtevant 1-0, Dylan Keir 9-64, Mason Priddy 8-47, Eddie Hockhalter 10-34; W: Matt Yager 1-(-6), JJ Fuerst 27-112, Mark Morales 6-70, DJ Riley 1-1, Dalton Beassie 8-69, Daymon Gressett 5-21, Michael Humbyrd 3-9.
PASSING — CR: Adam Watts 1-1-0-45, Mason Priddy 11-18-2-122; W: JJ Fuerst 4-5-0-54.
RECEIVING — CR: Adam Huerena 5-55, Keith Blau 2-45, Max Sturtevant 3-11, Jake Ayers 2-56; W: Emmanuel Cruz 1-23, Daymon Gressett 1-14, Michael Humbyrd 2-17.