WASHOUGAL — The calendar might’ve read the final day of August, but the weather Thursday night felt like fall.
In the case of the Washougal Panthers, perhaps that was a good thing since in their 45-8 season-opening non-league football win over 3A River Ridge, looked everything like mid-season form.
“We’ve got big things coming,” said senior linebacker and receiver Cooper Maxey.
And big things came quickly Thursday at Fishback Stadium to open the 2023 high school football season in Clark County. After last season’s 33-32 overtime road victory against River Ridge on Washougal’s way to winning a league title and reaching the 2A state playoffs, it was all Washougal (1-0) from start to finish against the Hawks of Lacey. The Panthers put up nearly 400 yards of offense while scoring points on all but two possessions.
Quarterback Holden Bea threw for 240 yards, rushed for 112 and accounted for five of the Panthers touchdowns. Six of his nine completions through the air went to senior receiver Sam Evers, who finished with six catches for 177 yards and a score. Five of those came in the first half when the Panthers built a 21-0 halftime lead. Their largest lead came at 45-0 with 5 minutes, 17 seconds left in the game.
“We’ve got that intellectual stuff,” Bea said of his best friend, Evers. “When somebody is pressing on him there’s not many people in the state that can stop him 1 on 1. I knew we needed to take some shots early to get some points on the board, so everybody was feeling energetic and ready to go.”
But the final play of the half perhaps sparked the most energy on the field as well as in the grandstands.
On third down from their own 40 with 2.2 seconds to play before halftime leading 14-0, Bea scrambled for 60 yards to the endzone — first to the right, then cut back left and went untouched the final 35 yards. It was aided by three downfield blocks by receivers.
Was that a designed play for Bea?
“That was not planned,” he said. “… it ended up working out. It was really great.”
So was Washougal’s defense, which kept River Ridge outside the red zone except for two possessions. The Hawks (0-1) avoided a shutout with 8.3 seconds to play on a 8-yard touchdown reception by Keoni Aguon (seven catches, 109 yards).
“Everything was clicking really well,” Maxey said of the defense. “A lot of that had to do with the summer stuff we’ve done. In camp, we dominated. That jamboree (last Friday), we dominated and we just culminated all of that together for tonight.”
WASHOUGAL 45, RIVER RIDGE 8
RR 0 0 0 8 – 8
Wash 6 15 17 7 – 45
W — Harry DeShazer 24 pass from Holden Bea (kick failed)
W — Sam Evers 59 pass from Bea (Will Cooper run)
W — Bea 60 run (Koby Johnson kick)
W — Bea 14 run (Johnson kick)
W — Johnson 23-yard FG
W — Bea 1 run (Johnson kick)
W — Mercy Johnston 1 run (Johnson kick)
Rushing: Washougal — Will Cooper 6-14, Holden Bea 7-112, Mercy Johnston 5-28, Kaden Fuatt 1-8.
Passing: Washougal — Holden Bea 9-19-1-240, Kaden Fautt 0-0-0-0.
Receiving: Washougal — Sam Evers 6-177, Harry DeShazer 1-24, Prescott Lenhart 2-39.