Maybe it was the early start time on a Saturday afternoon. Maybe it was heat and smoky skies that made for a muggy atmosphere at Kiggins Bowl.
Whatever the reason, Skyview sleepwalked through much of the first half against Columbia River, and the Rapids took advantage.
At halftime, facing a 7-6 deficit, Skyview players heard an earful from their coaches. The team was awake by the time the second half started.
Skyview scored touchdowns on five of seven drives in the second half, more than enough to turn around a deficit into an eventual 41-13 win against its district rival. The Storm (1-1) earned their first win of the season going into another Saturday showdown next week at 4A Bothell.
“It feels really good, just a win in general feels good,” said senior offensive/defensive lineman Ty Evans. “They (River) came out to play today, they played their (butt) off and I really give them kudos. We had a really slow first half. … We had the locker room talk we needed. It really just shifted the whole momentum of the game.”
Both teams know the importance of the annual rivalry game, though recent games haven’t been particularly close between 2A River and 4A Skyview. River’s last win came in 2013, and in the seven meetings since then, Skyview’s average margin of victory is 32 points.
Yet for the first two quarters Saturday, River threw recent history out the window.
The Rapids (1-1) orchestrated a seven-play, 67-yard opening scoring drive capped by a 22-yard Thomas Blau touchdown reception from quarterback Adam Watts, who also picked up a 43-yard run on the drive.
River’s defense followed suit by ending each of Skyview’s first two drives with punts. Even after Skyview scored its first touchdown midway through the second quarter, an 11-yard Trey Jacob run, River blocked the point after attempt and went into halftime with the lead.
“Well, number one, in the locker room we got yelled at,” said running back Trey Jacob, describing what changed for Skyview to begin the second half. “Those guys shouldn’t have been hanging with us to begin with. The first quarter, it was a little iffy, so we had to come back in the second half and make things better.”
Jacob scored a 19-yard rushing TD to give Skyview a 12-7 lead two minutes into the third quarter, then after a quick three-and-out for River, Skyview dialed up a deep pass on its first play from quarterback Jake Kennedy to receiver Gavin Packer for a 41-yard score.
River went on to get back within a touchdown after recovering a Skyview fumble and scoring on a 2-yard Seth Arnett touchdown catch. Aside from that touchdown, Skyview’s defense denied River any scoring chances in the second half.
“The second half we have a little bit of violence with us. We came out and wanted to hit people,” Evans said. “Our younger kids really didn’t know, even though it’s River, how big this game actually is. They came out there and they wanted to hit people. They wanted to prove a point.”
And what can a win like Saturday do for a young team?
“It just gives them a little more confidence under their belt,” Evans said. “The week one loss (to Jesuit), I wouldn’t say it put people down, but it just didn’t give us that reassurance of, ‘oh, we can really take this as far as we need to go.’ I think today gave them that (confidence of), ‘OK, we’re ballers, we can go out there and do it.’ ”
For River, 2A Greater St. Helens League play begins on Friday with a home game against Mark Morris. It is slated to be the Rapids’ first home game at their new stadium on campus, John O’Rourke Field, named after the longtime head football coach and educator.
Fast-moving Rapids — River marched down the field on its opening drive with Watts breaking free for a 43-yard run, then throwing to Blau for a 22-yard touchdown to put River ahead 7-0. Blau finished with a team-high eight receptions for 74 yards.
Turnover leads to River score — After River punter Julean Morales pinned Skyview inside its own 5-yard line in the third quarter, River’s Ezra Bailey recovered a Skyview fumble on the next play. That set up a 2-yard touchdown catch by Arnett from Watts, cutting Skyview’s lead to 20-13.
Slamming the door shut — Skyview scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to seal the win: Kennedy connected with tight end Gavin Poffenroth for scores of 21 and 34 yards, and also ran in a 1-yard touchdown.
Adam Watts — The senior quarterback sparked River from the team’s opening drive until late when the Rapids were playing catch-up. Watts threw for 107 yards and two touchdowns, and was also River’s leading rusher with 79 yards.
Trey Jacob — Skyview’s leading rusher (11 carries, 94 yards) scored the Storm’s first two touchdowns on runs of 11 and 19 yards.
Jake Kennedy — The dual-threat junior quarterback threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 57 yards and a score on the ground for the Storm.
SKYVIEW 41, COLUMBIA RIVER 13
Skyview 0 6 14 21—41
Col. River 7 0 6 0—13
CR — Thomas Blau 22 pass from Adam Watts (Gage Newman kick).
S — Trey Jacob 11 run (kick blocked)
S — Jacob 19 run (run failed)
S — Gavin Packer 41 pass from Jake Kennedy (Kennedy run)
CR — Seth Arnett 2 pass from Watts (kick blocked)
S — Gavin Poffenroth 21 pass from Kennedy (Ethan McClinton kick)
S — Kennedy 1 run (Giovanni Mejia kick)
S — Poffenroth 34 pass from Kennedy (Mejia kick)
RUSHING — Skyview: Jacob 11-94, Kennedy 8-57, Packer 2-19, Levi Webb 2-13, James Poindexter 1-3, Eric Botnen 1-1. Columbia River: Watts 12-79, Levi Hongel 5-4, Elijah Anguiano 4-(minus 7), Julean Morales 1-0.
PASSING — Skyview: Kennedy 14-22-203. Columbia River: Watts 15-27-107.
RECEIVING — Skyview: Packer 4-66, Jonathan Stromberg 3-32, Poffenroth 2-55, Riley Artis 2-16, Jacob 2-9, Jerrid Secor 1-9. Columbia River: Blau 8-74, Hongel 2-10, Arnett 2-1, Joseph Pena 1-10, Jacob Boothe 1-8, Morales 1-3.