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Mountain View tops Evergreen, 39-27, in 3A GSHL opener

Thunder’s defense sets tone in first half to help team win its fourth straight game

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 30, 2023, 12:09am
13 Photos
Mountain View plays Evergreen at McKenzie Stadium on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023.
Mountain View plays Evergreen at McKenzie Stadium on Friday, Sept. 29, 2023. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Officially, Friday’s Mountain View-Evergreen football game was the 3A Greater St. Helens League opener for both teams. By the end of October, however, the game at McKenzie Stadium likely could be looked back on as the defacto league-title tilt. 

A 39-27 Mountain View victory over Evergreen had no shortage of a league-championship feel. After all, it’s a long-standing east Vancouver rivalry that dates back to 1982. In fact, Friday was the 50th meeting all-time between the two programs; Mountain View now holds a 28-22 advantage. 

“This is personal,” said running back/linebacker Jaden Brown. “Last year, things didn’t go our way (against Evergreen), but we got it back in blood.”

First-year coach Aaron Hart expressed to his players post game that there’s still a long way to go. But Friday was a great way to end the first half of the regular-season at 4-1 overall. That includes a four-game win streak since dropping its season opener to 1A Nooksack Valley at home. 

“This is a great stepping stone to where we need to get as a program,” Hart said. 

The Thunder’s offensive line paved the way for 270 rushing yards, including a game-high 171 and three touchdowns by Porter Drake. As noteworthy as Mountain View’s offense was, the defense stole the show to set the tone in the first half. 

The headliner: three sacks on Evergreen quarterback Jayden Crace, an interception by Aiden Nicholson, and a forced fumble that led to a scoop and score for 33 yards by Akili Kaumu. 

All of that led to a 32-15 halftime advantage by Mountain View. 

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Tone-setter, indeed. 

“We had to play with some swagger,” senior linebacker Ayden Denbo said. “That’s it. Making big plays and building off of it. 

Evergreen, however, never backed down. Crace accounted for all of the teams touchdowns — three rushing, one passing — and helped pull the Plainsmen within 39-27 with 6:26 left in the game. That’s when he hit Anthony Lambert for a 28-yard score as part of completing eight of his final nine passes. 

Mountain View’s defense rose up again in the second half, this time on a fourth-down stop for a turnover on downs. It stopped Crace on a fourth-and-five inside the Mountain View 10-yard line and drove 95 yards for its largest lead at 39-15. 

“It’s my favorite part of this team,” Denbo said of the defense. “I think we can use what we did today and be confident moving forward.”

Said Brown: “And keep building on top of that.”

MOUNTAIN VIEW 39, EVERGREEN 27

MV 8 24 0 7 – 39

Ev 0 15 0 12 – 27

First quarter

MV — Porter Drake 3 run (conversion good)

Second quarter

MV — Akili Kamau 33 fumble recovery (conversion good)

Ev — Jayden Crace 1 run (conversion good)

Ev — Crace 14 run (conversion good)

MV — Drake 48 run (Owen Purvis kick)

MV — Drake 3 run (Purvis kick)

MV — Purvis 35 FG

Fourth quarter

MV — Cash Cook 1 run (Purvis kick)

Ev — Crace 7 run (kick failed)

Ev — Anthony Lambert 28 pass from Crace (kick failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — Evergreen: Jayden Crace 11-50, James Bethune 4-8, Terrance Saryon 3-34, Amani Jackson 8-58; Mountain View: Porter Drake 14-171, Cash Cook 6-11, Jaden Brown 9-38, James Thompson 4-39, Bryson Vance 4-21.

Passing — Evergreen: Crace 16-25-0-256; Mountain View: Cook 7-10-0-100.

Receiving — Evergreen: Anthony Lambert 6-84, Arthur Ban 5-103, Ryder Keplar 1-9, Terrance Saryon 5-60; Mountain View: Ayden Cummings 2-17, Aiden Nicholson 1-17, Drake 2-24, James Thompson 1-33, Bryson Vance 1-7.

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