Panther football family prevails

Washougal beats Mark Morris for winning record

On the verge of a winning season, the Washougal High School football team did something it hadn’t done in nine years. Defeat Mark Morris.

Watching the Panthers celebrate in their locker room after a 27-0 victory Friday, Dave Hajek said coming back to coach at Washougal was the right decision.

“We preached all week about ending with something positive,” Hajek said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, but we won our last two games, got better as a team and closer as a family.”

Brandon Casteel had another big night to cap his high school career. The senior rushed for 248 yards and scored three touchdowns.

“It’s hard for me to believe that I don’t have any more football,” Casteel said. “I’m glad I spent it with my team and my family. I’m going to miss all of them. I know they will have my back til the end.”

Washougal senior Garrett Duey added an 8-yard touchdown run. Seniors Tristan Roseff, Kyron Carlson, Monte Georgianna and Spencer Adams contributed to the victory. They gave credit to the offensive line, led by seniors John Sunderland, Bailey Burke and Sam Barnes.

“It was just knowing that this was the last time we get to do this,” Barnes said. “We’re out there working hard every day to get ready for Friday nights under the lights.”

The connection between Barnes and his teammates can be traced back to playing East County Pop Warner football. While adapting to a new head coach, and learning a new offensive and defensive playbook, the Panthers put together a 5-4 winning season.

“It’s bittersweet,” Barnes said. “You know it’s the end, but we wanted to go out with a win and that’s what we did. We wanted to start this tradition for Washougal football.”

Hajek said it is up to the underclassmen to carry the torch.

“I wish I had another year with these seniors,” he said. “They laid the foundation. They will never be forgotten.”