Panthers take a step backwards

Early lead evaporates after Castle Rock scores three touchdowns

Initial success didn’t last for the Washougal football team at Castle Rock Friday.

The Panthers scored a touchdown seven minutes into the game on a 3-yard run by Marcos Martinez. The Rockets responded with three unanswered touchdowns. Castle Rock cruised to a 32-19 victory after putting up 19 points in the third quarter.

Washougal head coach Dave Hajek said the Panthers lost that spark that helped them score 15 points in the fourth quarter of their previous game.

“We played a full game like we played in the first half against West Seattle,” Hajek said. “We thought we could just show up and do well, and it was not the case. They were a good team, they showed up ready to play and they were focused.”

Washougal fumbled the ball at the start of the second half, and a Castle Rock player turned it into a 28-yard touchdown.

Martinez came up with a 22-yard touchdown run for the Panthers with four minutes left in the third quarter, but the Rockets returned the next kick off for a 90-yard touchdown.

“I’m just trying to open up big plays and give our team a little bit of hope,” Martinez said. “The past few games, we haven’t played to our potential. We’re going back to basics this week, attacking everything and working really hard.”

Washougal reached the end zone one more time in the fourth quarter, when Jake Klackner caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stevens.

The Panthers begin league play at Columbia River Friday. The game starts at 7 p.m.

“Our measurement of success is improvement,” Hajek said. “We may not get the success we want initially, but as long as we continue to improve and make those strides forward, we will be successful in the long run.

“I have a great group of kids who understand that,” he added. “It’s not one person who is going to make the difference, it’s all of us.”