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Tim Martinez: Lessons learned in Week 1 on the gridiron

High school sports

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: September 5, 2023, 7:05pm

Week 1 of the high school football season brought some clarity, questions and a few surprises, as it usually does.

But even the teams that got through Week 1 with convincing wins still have some convincing to do with their own coaches.

“Well, that was a little bit rough,” Washougal coach Dave Hajek quipped at me at halftime after watching his team take a 21-0 lead on River Ridge. The Panthers would go onto win 45-8.

And you’d think Skyview coach Steve Kizer would be elated after the Storm’s 28-0 win over Jesuit of Beaverton, Ore.

He was happy, but …

“We’ve got a lot of things to work on still,” Kizer said. “It wasn’t a thing of beauty.”

Skyview bounced out to a 21-0 lead after less than six minutes into the game. But from there, the game was essentially a scoreless battle until the Storm tacked on a clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But this season, we have a little bit more clarity based on the fact that most high school schedules get made on two-year cycles, meaning that many of the matchups we saw last weekend were the same Week 1 matchups we saw last year, just at different venues.

Last season, Washougal was fortunate to force overtime in its season opener at River Ridge, eventually escaping with a 33-32 victory.

After a Week 2 loss to Toppenish, Washougal would go onto to win eight straight to reach the state playoffs and finish the season 9-2.

So this season’s start was certainly a better starting point than in 2022 for the Panthers. It will be interesting to see where Washougal goes from here.

“We’ve got big things coming,” senior Cooper Maxey said.

The same can be said for Skyview, who lost to Jesuit 24-21 in Week 1 last season.

“We’ve been waiting for this game all year,” Skyview senior quarterback Jake Kennedy said. “Last year, we didn’t get the outcome we wanted. But (tonight) we brought it back and took it to the house.”

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Last year, Ridgefield opened the season with a 38-28 loss at home to W.F. West.

Last Friday, the Spudders went to Chehalis and came away with a 27-21 victory over the Bearcats, who reached the 2A state semifinals last season.

Two years ago, when both players were sophomores, Brayden Malella and Logan DeBeaumont split time at quarterback early in the season, before Malella started to earn the majority of the snaps before suffering a season-ending injury in Week 5.

From there, DeBeaumont took over and helped the Spudders reach the state quarterfinals.

DeBeaumont remained Ridgefield’s primary signal caller last season, passing for 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns.

This season, it’s back to a tandem affair at quarterback, and Malella stepped up big in the opener on Friday, completing 11 of 16 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, then sealed the win with an interception on defense.

La Center looked very impressive in a 43-7 win over Hockinson.

Senior quarterback Garrett Maunu completed 9 of 12 passes for 119 yards and one touchdown and the Wildcat run game piled up nearly 200 yards on the Hawks.

We thought that Battle Ground might be one of the more improved programs in the area, but wondered if that would be enough for the Tigers to close the gap on their 4A Greater St. Helens League rivals.

The Tigers certainly took a step in that direction with a 43-0 win over Mark Morris, a team that beat Battle Ground 41-25 last season.

And not every team that made an impression last week came away with a victory.

Camas Papermakers were rightfully upset after falling 8-7 to Yelm, after the Tornados blocked an 18-yard field goal attempt with 20 seconds to play.

But last season the Papermakers could not contain Yelm, which pulled away for a 44-14 win. The Tornados would go on to win the 3A state championship.

With many standouts back this season for Yelm, another state title is not out of the question.

And still, the Papermakers were oh-so-close to knocking off Yelm.

Junior Jake Davidson seemed to understand the significance of that.

“We held the (defending 3A state champions) to eight points,” Davidson said. “Our offense played great, too. Even though we put up seven points, we were one yard away.”

That’s what we learned in Week 1 of the season. Imagine what will learn in Week 2.

Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at tim.martinez@columbian.com, 360-735-4538 or follow @360TMart on X (Twitter) and Instagram.