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News / Sports / Prep Sports

On Further Review: Victory as sweet as candy at La Center

By Columbian staff
Published: September 11, 2023, 6:40pm

Got candy? The La Center linemen do.

It’s common for linemen to be rewarded by their coaches — or even their quarterbacks — following a stellar on-field game performance. But how about immediately postgame?

That happened with La Center after its 24-8 victory over Woodland on Friday in the annual Lewis River Rivalry game, in which assistant coach Matt Tefs gave a bag of Skittles to lineman Ryan Kawalek to pass around to fellow lineman on both sides of the ball.

It’s a weekly occurrence, said junior Wyatt Eiesland. What will be there for next week’s game against Kalama is anyone’s guess.

And of course, Eiesland said, as good as candy is, it tastes even better after a victory.

“It always tastes better,” he said. “It’s not about the candy; it’s about the coaches knowing you’re doing a good job and the satisfaction from the victory.”

Thunder pursue defensive excellence

Pursuit was a key word for the Mountain View defense this week ahead of its 49-24 win over Ridgefield, according to defensive back/receiver Aiden Nicholson.

In fact, the Thunder drew further inspiration from watching film of the 2019 team, which reached the Class 3A state semifinals, flying around on defense. Two current assistant coaches, Jordan Cook and Andrew Gulliford, played on that 2019 team.

So, what did Nicholson and his teammates take away?

“Just how they all got to the ball every single play,” he said. “Even the back side corners, safeties, if the ball was on the other hash, everyone was there.”

Running through pursuit drills in practice and watching tape were details that made all the difference in Friday’s game.

Mountain View held Ridgefield to seven points in the first half while building a 35-7 lead. The Thunder also forced three turnovers, including Nicholson’s 96-yard pick six that essentially sealed the win in the third quarter. It marked an improvement from week one when Mountain View dropped a 35-21 decision to 1A power Nooksack Valley.

“Our main thing was we needed to work on our pursuits, and we worked on that an entire practice,” Nicholson said. “That’s what showed up — everyone’s at the ball.”

First-team effort

Jordan Young spent the week as Battle Ground’s scout-team running back during practice. But the effort Young showed as he mimicked Todd Beamer’s running backs made coach Mike Woodward think his senior was on the verge of something special come Saturday’s game.

“I said to him,’you’re going to have the game of your life,’ ” Woodward said.

Young did just that, rushing for three touchdowns as the Tigers routed Todd Beamer 50-0.

At 5-foot-9, 200 pounds, Young was hard to bring down. He ran through contact in gaining 78 yards on eight carries. All but one of his carries went for nine yards or more.

Young had 45 yards and a touchdown on five carries in the Tigers’ season-opening win over Mark Morris. As a junior, he had one touchdown and 26 yards on just five varsity carries.

Young credited his line for his breakthrough game Saturday.

“They just do their job,” Young said. “They’re dogs. I’m grateful for that line. They know how to block.”

Banged-up Rapids

Friday’s 49-0 loss to Skyview took a toll on Columbia River’s health.

The Rapids lost starting quarterback Brayden Schiefer to a shoulder injury late in the first quarter.

In addition, five Columbia River starters were out of the game with possible concussions by the time the rout was over.

Class 2A Columbia River has lost the last nine games in the yearly matchup against their rivals to the north, who are ranked No. 4 in Class 4A. The last eight have been decided by an average margin of 42-6.

The physical difference between the teams was stark. Skyview suited up 67 players with 28 weighing 200 pounds or more. Columbia River suited up 40 players with 17 at 200 pounds or more.

Evergreen gets 8 takeaways

Evergreen’s eight forced turnovers in a 62-14 rout of Hockinson was a showcase for the Plainsmen defense.

Sophomore Raisean Chambers intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble.

Sophomore Elijah English and juniors Jakai Clardy and Ryder Keplar returned interceptions for touchdowns.

Also junior Mark Williams had an interception and sophomore Austin Chapman recovered a fumble.

Senior Arian Washington returned a fumble 41 yards to the 1-yard line.

Heritage defense shows promise

Heritage’s defense is showing promise despite an 0-2 start.

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After a Heritage turnover gave Stadium a short field, which the Tigers converted into a 14-0 lead with 7:19 left in the second quarter, Heritage shut out Stadium until early in the fourth quarter.

Senior Leo Lopez recorded two sacks, and junior Jaidin Compton and sophomore Isaiah James each added one. Senior Jayce Gallant came up with an interception.

However, struggles on offense led to fatigue on Heritage’s defense, allowing Stadium to pull away for a 28-0 win.