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Martinez: Looking back at 2022 football season with list of best 10 prep games of the season

Tim Martinez: High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
8 Photos
Camas senior Zach Blair, left, and sophomore Nikko Speer celebrate after a touchdown Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, during the Papermakers’ 36-33 win against Skyview at Kiggins Bowl.
Camas senior Zach Blair, left, and sophomore Nikko Speer celebrate after a touchdown Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, during the Papermakers’ 36-33 win against Skyview at Kiggins Bowl. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

And so the high school football season along the Lower Columbia is over.

It feels odd the final fall sports still playing are volleyball and soccer.

This is the first time since 2007 that no team from the Greater St. Helens Leagues or Trico League have advanced to the state quarterfinals in football.

But it was still an exciting football season while it lasted, and there were many great games and great stories to tell along the way.

So I thought it would be a good time to look back at some of the biggest moments of the 2022 prep football season with a list of the top 10 games of the season.

So we rate these games not just on how exciting they were or what kind of thrilling finish they had, but also on the significance of the game. So league games over non-league games, late-season games over early-season games.

This list was harder to pare down to 10 than I thought. There were a lot of games I considered, but left off the list.

Debate if you will, but here we go.

No. 10 — Mountain View 45, Richland 44, Oct. 28

This non-league game in the Tri-Cities had no bearing on the postseason race, but it may have provided the Thunder the momentum to advance to the playoffs. Trailing 44-31 with 5:12 to play, the Thunder scored one touchdown, got a defensive stop then scored the game-winner with Mitch Johnson hit Akili Kamau with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left. Owen Purvis’ PAT kick gave Mountain View the win. The Thunder would secure a playoff berth in a tiebreaker three days later.

No. 9 — Mark Morris 35, Hockinson 31, Oct. 14

In this 2A GSHL game, Hockinson took a 24-14 lead into halftime, but the Monarchs took a 28-24 lead in the fourth quarter. The Hawks jumped back ahead 31-28 before Mark Morris marched downfield. With 1:35 to play Dossen Morrow carried the ball toward the goal line when he fumbled the ball into the end zone. Teammate Kobe Parlin pounced on the ball for the winning touchdown.

No. 8 — Fort Vancouver 29, Stevenson 27, Sept. 16

The Trappers snapped a 16-game losing streak with a thrilling win at Kiggins Bowl. After Stevenson scored two touchdowns in a two-minute span to take a 27-23 lead with 1:12 to play, the Trappers drove downfield and took the lead on Kaeleb Cvitkovich’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Evan Mendez with 35 seconds to play.

No. 7 — Kelso 28, Mountain View 26, Oct. 13

Kelso captured the 3A GSHL title, but had to survive three tough league battles to do so. Kelso led 28-19 with six minutes to play, then had to withstand a late rally by the Thunder. After Mountain View cut its deficit to 28-26 with four minutes to go, the Thunder defense got a stop, giving the ball back to the offense with 2:30 to play. The Thunder drove inside the Kelso 20 before Zeke Smith’s interception in the end zone sealed the win in the final minute.

No. 6 — Kelso 45, Gig Harbor 34, Nov. 5

The Hilanders’ postseason run looked like it was headed to a quick end after Gig Harbor marched to a 34-10 lead in the second quarter. But a 50-yard touchdown run by Conner Noah, and Tucker Amrine’s 78-yard touchdown pass to Smith got Kelso within 34-31 in the third quarter. Two fourth quarter touchdowns by Judah Calixte completed the comeback.

No. 5 — Washougal 34, Ridgefield 27, Sept. 30

Washougal’s first undefeated league title since 1999 would not have been possible without this huge win at Ridgefield. Down 27-20, Washougal tied the game early in the fourth quarter. But the Panthers appeared to be in big trouble after failing to convert a fourth-and-1 in their own territory with about a minute to play. Then Jayson Graham stepped in front of a Ridgefield pass and returned the interception 72 yards for the winning touchdown.

No. 4 — Evergreen 20, Mountain View 14, Sept. 30

Mountain View appeared prime to knock off their rivals with 28 second to play when the Thunder completed a screen pass at the 6-yard line with an apparent clear path to the end zone. But Jaxson Morris came racing over to deliver a big blow at the 2-yard line, causing a fumble the Plainsmen recovered to preserve the victory.

No. 3 — Kelso 29, Evergreen 22, OT, Oct. 29

Kelso was trying to secure an outright 3A GSHL title. Prairie and Mountain View were hoping to keep their postseason hopes alive with an Evergreen loss. Neither looked likely when Evergreen scored two quick touchdowns to open the third quarter and take a 22-7 lead. But Conner Noah scored two touchdowns to tie the game 22-22. In the overtime period, Amrine hit Smith for a 13-yard touchdown. Then Smith was the hero again, coming up with a pass breakup on fourth down to halt Evergreen’s possession.

No. 2 — La Center 26, Mount Baker 25, Oct. 8

The Wildcats were facing a long bus ride home from Mount Baker after falling behind 25-0 midway through the third quarter. La Center rallied but was still down 25-16 with about a minute to play. Then Adam White stripped a fumble and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown, La Center recovered the ensuing onside kick, drove downfield where Ben Rembisz connected on 26-yard field goal in the final seconds to win it.

No. 1 — Camas 36, Skyview 33, Oct. 14

Skyview appeared headed on a path to the 4A GSHL title when the Storm led 33-14 in the fourth quarter. But Camas rallied on a 1-yard touchdown run by Reid Tennant, a recovered onside kick and a 35-yard touchdown pass from Taylor Ioane to Nikko Speer. After Camas’ defense got the Papermakers the ball back, Camas drove down to the Skyview 4, where the Papermakers faced fourth down with 10 seconds to play. Then Ioane hit Konnor Limnell with the winning touchdown pass.