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Feb. 6, 2023

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Mountain View shrugs off pressure, Prairie in 37-27 win

Thunder running game sets up deep passes in key 3A GSHL test

By , Columbian Sports Editor
Published:

BATTLE GROUND — Pressure? The Mountain View football team could have felt a lot heading into Friday’s game against Prairie.

The Thunder, picked by coaches and observers as the preseason favorite in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League, had a rocky first half of the season.

Mountain View had lost two straight, including a narrow defeat to league-rival Evergreen last week. A loss Friday would all but dash any postseason hopes for the Thunder.

So how did Mountain View feel in the week leading up a pivotal test at District Stadium?

Liberated.

“This week we decided ‘hey let’s go have some fun man,’” Mountain View quarterback Mitch Johnson said. “Let’s fly around and enjoy every moment with each other. That’s what really pushed us.”

16 Photos
The sun sets over Mountain View players as they warm up Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, during a game between Prairie and Mountain View at District Stadium in Battle Ground.
Prep Football: Mountain View at Prairie Photo Gallery

Mountain View got back to basics, establishing a strong running game and then striking quickly with long passes in a 37-27 win.

The win ensures the Thunder (3-3, 1-1) maintain control of their postseason destiny in the five-team race for the 3A GSHL’s two postseason berths.

“There was a lot of stress on us throughout the year,” Mountain View coach Adam Mathieson said. “In a weird way, you back yourself into a corner. Nobody believes in us anymore. Nobody cares. It’s just us. To be honest, it felt like a weight off our shoulders where we could come out and just play and not try to live up to everyone’s expectations.”

Johnson threw for 214 yards, including touchdowns of 43 yards to Kyle Chen and 41 yards to Jacob Martin.

But where the Thunder imposed their will was in the running game.

Porter Drake had 104 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Johnson had 93 yards rushing, including a 34-yard touchdown. Mountain View rolled up 253 yards on the ground.

“When we’re all in tune and when we’re all rocking together, we’re extremely dangerous,” Johnson said. “We’ve got weapons everywhere. I don’t think there’s a spot that we’re lacking. It’s just a matter of executing and working together.”

Mathieson said at times his team has relied on the passing game too much, chasing quick touchdowns on deep throws. Friday, those deep throws were set up by establishing the running game.

“A couple of the big plays we had over the top were play-action off of running the ball,” Mathieson said. “We’re at our best when we can run the ball.”

Drake said his job was made easier by the offensive line.

“They came out every play, ran as hard as they could and blocked for me,” Drake said. “I love them and I appreciate them for that.”

Prairie (3-3, 0-2) came out swinging. Colby Majewski, a 220-pound running back and linebacker, opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run.

Mountain View needed four plays to answer, with Johnson’s 34-yard keeper tying the game 7-7. But Prairie jumped back in front on a 5-yard Majewski touchdown run after Prairie recovered a fumble near midfield.

The Thunder responded with two lightning-quick drives. Johnson hit Chen on a crossing route, then the 190-pound senior did the rest beating Prairie’s defenders down the sideline.

Then, after forcing a three-and-out, Mountain View took the lead when Martin beat a Prairie defender for the ball in the end zone on Johnson’s lofty 41-yard pass.

In just 4:30, the Thunder went from trailing 14-7 to leading 21-14 late in the first half.

Mountain View drove 60 yards in four plays to open the second half. Drake’s 20-yard touchdown run put the Thunder ahead 28-14.

But Prairie responded quickly. Ethan Cabral broke free down the right sideline for a 65-yard touchdown catch two plays into the Falcons’ next drive. The junior finished with 110 receiving yards on six catches.

Prairie quarterback Braeden Slamp was a dual threat, throwing for 235 yards and rushing for 105. Some of his scrambles extended a drive that ended in a 7-yard touchdown pass to AJ Burke. That pulled Prairie within 28-27 with 6:52 left in the third quarter.

Mountain View responded, converting on fourth down when Akili Kamau hauled in a 27-yard pass on fourth and 2. That set up Drake’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run, to put the Thunder ahead 34-27.

Mountain View’s defense was stout when it needed to be. Three times, Prairie drove inside the 20 but came away with no points. The Falcons were shut out in the fourth quarter, with Martin intercepting a pass in the end zone to seal the win with 1:50 to play.

To reach the postseason, Mountain View understands it has no room for error.

Just don’t expect the Thunder to feel any pressure.

“Our mindset from here on out is win or go home,” Johnson said. “I know we’ve had a couple of tough losses that we’re not really proud of. I think it’s just taking that motivation and fueling us through practice and the game.

MOUNTAIN VIEW 37, PRAIRIE 27

Mtn. View 7 14 13 3—37

Prairie 7 7 13 0—27

First quarter

P — Colby Majewski 11 run (Ashton Fergason kick)

MV — Mitch Johnson 34 run (Owen Purvis kick)

Second quarter

P — Majewski 5 run (Fergason kick)

MV — Kyle Chen 43 pass from Johnson (Purvis kick)

MV — Jacob Martin 41 pass from Johnson (Purvis kick)

Third quarter

MV — Porter Drake 20 run (Purvis kick)

P — Ethan Cabral 65 pass from Braeden Slamp (Fergason kick)

P — AJ Burke 7 pass from Slamp (kick failed)

MV — Drake 1 run (kick failed)

Fourth quarter

MV — Purvis 34 FG

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — Mountain View: Mitch Johnson 15-93, Porter Drake 17-104, Kedyn Bolds 6-44, JJ Thompson 3-12. Prairie: Colby Majewski 22-75, Braeden Slamp 15-105, Aidan Miller 4-13, Preston Hill 4-16, Ernesto Espinosa 2-6.

PASSING — Mountain View: Mitch Johnson 12-20-0-214. Prairie: Braeden Slamp 16-35-1-235, Isaac Watson 3-4-1-22.

RECEIVING — Mountain View: Jacob Martin 4-50, Porter Drake 2-54, Christian Wilson 1-8, Kyle Chen 2-57, JJ Thompson 2-18, Akili Kamau 1-27. Prairie: Ethan Cabral 6-110, Alex Juhl 4-57, Aidan Miller 4-47, Colby Majewski 3-19, AJ Burke 1-7, Evan Davis 1-19.

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