Dave Hajek put it in perspective.
He played football for Washougal. He has taught and coached at the high school for decades. He doesn’t remember the last time the Washougal football team beat Columbia River. And it wasn’t just a victory. It was a shutout. A 17-0 statement by the Panthers in their first league game of the season.
Ryan Stevens had the leg and arm working, while Washougal stayed relentless on defense. Nathan Tofell snagged an 11-yard touchdown pass from Stevens. The Chieftains fumbled their next possession and Jakob Davis recovered the ball for the Panthers. Stevens then kicked a 32-yard field goal to give Washougal a 10-0 advantage at halftime.
It was still anybody’s ball game at the start of the second half. The Panthers moved down the field swiftly, until penalties sent them tumbling backwards. Washougal retraced its steps on a couple of gutsy runs by Stevens, Kade Coons and Grant Lewis. The Panthers faced a third down and 15 when Stevens dropped back to pass and Brevan Bea came down with the ball in the end zone for a big touchdown. The 28-yard strike gave the Panthers a 17 point lead.
Columbia River couldn’t hold on to the rock before fumbling it again. Nick Oakes dove on the ball for Washougal, and the Panthers were off and running again.
Washougal forced the Chieftains to turn the ball over on downs as the third quarter came to a close. Preston Thornton also picked off a pass for the Panthers in the fourth quarter. It was all Washougal ball for the final four minutes of the game.
When the Panthers lost a heartbreaker to Columbia River last season, they were 0-3. Now, they’re 3-0 and looking for more against Mark Morris Friday, Sept. 22. The grass field at Longview Memorial Stadium can be tricky, especially with rain in the forecast.
Read more about this Washougal victory in Thursday’s print edition of the Post-Record.