All week in practice, Washougal football coach David Hajek told his players they must avoid kicking to Tyler Flanagan, the Woodland High Beavers’ do-everything quarterback, safety, punter and return man.
The strategy worked for the most part during the Friday, Sept. 14, game at Fishback Stadium in Washougal.
Despite a penalty-filled game that cost Washougal 82 yards, a clutch touchdown — thrown by quarterback Dalton Payne and caught by Jacob Davis — gave the Panthers an opportunity to tie the game with just three minutes left on the board.
“I was nervous before that play, because I knew we needed that touchdown,” Davis said. “So, I ran the most crisp route I could, and leaned to get some space, then pulled in the catch.”
The Panthers needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game, but a passing play using Davis as a decoy failed.
Fortunately, Washougal still had three minutes left to pull out a win.
Then, the moment coach Hajek dreaded came true. A kick-off somehow wound up in Woodland’s star quarterback’s hands, and Flanagan dashed the Panthers’ momentum, taking the ball 84 yards for a touchdown and toppling Washougal 29-26.
“We tried to keep the ball out of his hands, but we just were not able to do that. He’s really a dynamic player,” Hajek said of Flanagan.
The Panthers may have lost the game, but they beat the Beavers statistically, with 455 yards versus 375 yards on offense. Davis had two touchdowns and caught 10 catches for 123 yards. Panther quarterback Dalton Payne racked up 272 yards, and completed 22 of 39 attempts.
“Our offensive line really improved against Woodland,” Payne said. “They gave me two or three seconds to throw, and it really helped.”
Brevan Bea, the Panthers’ biggest offensive threat, played the entire game with double coverage, but his teammate, Peter Boylan, took advantage of the situation, rushing for 134 yards on 11 carries.
“Peter is a really hard worker, and it’s always tough competition between us in practice,” Bea said. “So, it’s really great to know he’s there to help me out on the offensive side.”
Hajek still found a few positives in his team’s heartbreaking loss to Woodland.
“We are young,” Hajek said. “Davis, Payne and Bea are all juniors and Boyland is just a sophomore, while all of Woodland’s best players are seniors. We need to cut down on our mistakes, penalty-wise.”
Bea suffered a minor knee injury early in the game, after a Woodland player hit him with a helmet during a tackle. He kept playing, however, and led players on both teams with 11 tackles.
Immediately after the game, Bea noticed some swelling in his left knee.
Three days later, on Monday morning, Bea was walking around school with an ice pack on his knee, but said he felt fine.
“Just a little swelling after the game,” Bea said of his injury. “But it’s all gone now. The biggest thing is that we just need to cut down on our penalties. When you look up at the scoreboard and it’s first-and-40, it’s pretty hard to come back from that.”