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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Evergreen ready for Week 9 showdown at Kelso

Plainsmen’s 40-19 win over Prairie means one step closer to earning playoff bid

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

BATTLE GROUND — Perhaps it’s no surprise the Evergreen Plainsmen chose to go into playoff mode early before securing a playoff berth.  

After all, with two weeks left in the regular season entering Friday, they felt there’s zero room for error when it came to snagging the 3A Greater St. Helens League’s final playoff berth. 

Step 1 is complete — a 40-19 victory by Evergreen over the Falcons on Friday — which now leads perfectly into Step 2. 

The next step is the big one. Evergreen travels to Kelso (2-6, 1-2 league) on Friday in the teams’ regular-season finale as the Plainsmen (5-3, 2-1 league) try to lock up their first Week 10 state preliminary round bid since 2019. 

Win, and Evergreen is in. A Kelso win complicates things, however. Pending the outcome of next Friday’s Heritage-Prairie means a three-way tiebreaker between Kelso, Evergreen and Prairie is on for one playoff spot.

Senior Logan Trotter isn’t interested in a tiebreaker scenario. 

“We’re coming in with the same mentality as this one,” the linebacker said after Friday’s victory over the Falcons. “We have to win. That’s crucial for us to get a good seed in the playoffs 

“That has to be our word of the week (at practice) — win.”

Win is what the Plainsmen did Friday at District Stadium, but it didn’t come easy. 

In fact, Prairie raced out to a 12-3 early behind Sam Alanis and AJ Burke in the secondary securing interception returns for touchdowns on consecutive Evergreen possessions off quarterback Jayden Crace. But what Prairie did, Evergreen did just as well. 

The opening 20 minutes featured four lead changes and three interception returns for touchdowns. But perhaps the biggest momentum by Evergreen swing came in the final 2 minutes, 43 seconds of the first half. The Plainsmen scored 17 points — a Terrance Saryon 2-yard touchdown run on a quick 5-play offensive series, a 48-yard interception return by Jakai Clardy on the ensuing possession, and a 28-yard field goal by Kevin Jimenez as the first half clock expired. It came after Evergreen’s defense made a fourth-down stop with 27 seconds left.

“We had a great sequence,” Trotter said. “We were hyped up.”

From there, the defense took over. It shutout Prairie the final 24 minutes, and had one more late-game defensive showing. With Prairie driving facing fourth and 11 at the Evergreen 25 inside 3 minutes to go — its best field position since scoring its first offensive touchdown with 4:24 left in the first half — Trotter read backup quarterback Josiah Alanis, batted the pass down with both hands, grabbed it, and took it back 75 yards for the return. 

Offensively, four rushers — Jayden Crace, Saryon, James Bethune, and Amani Jackson — rushed for more than 50 yards.

Ahead of next week’s regular-season finale, nose tackle Mahki Miller already knows what his part will be: focus, he said. 

“We have to stay locked in as a team,” Miller said. “We really don’t need motivation; we just need consistency.”

EVERGREEN 40, PRAIRIE 19

Egreen 10 23 0 7 – 40

Prai. 12 7 0 0 – 19

First quarter

E — Kevin Jimenez 28 FG

P — Samuel Alanis 35 interception return (pass failed)

P — AJ Burke 45 interception return (pass failed)

E — Ryder Keplar 31 pass from Jayden Crace (Jimenez kick)

Second quarter

E — Terrance Saryon 45 run (kick failed)

P — Pierson Lameh 7 run (kick good)

E — Saryon 2 run (Jimenez kick)

E — Jakai Clardy 48 interception return (Jimenez kick)

E — Jimenez 28 FG 

Fourth quarter

E — Logan Trotter 75 interception return (Jimenez kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Prairie — Pierson Lameh 17-87, Preston Hill 7-55, Deven Vigue 3-10, Braeden Slamp 5-10, Team 2-(minus-10); Evergreen — Terrance Saryon 5-52, James Bethune 9-51, Jayden Crace 9-76, Amani Jackson 7-68.

PASSING: Prairie — Slamp 4-8-2-47; Vigue 2-5-2-22; Evergreen — Crace 10-20-3-123.

RECEIVING: Prairie — Lemah 1-8, Tevita Ngauamo 1-25, Preston Hill 4-36; Evergreen — Arthur Ban 3-20, Anthony Lamberth Jr. 3-35, Jackson 1-16, Ryder Keplar 1-31, Saryon 2-21.

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