The Battle Ground Tigers made a statement in their 42-7 victory over the Prairie Falcons on Friday, Sept. 15.
It’s not often that a high school football game starts with a flyover, but the Bell UH-1 Iroquois “Huey” from the National Wings and Armour Foundation made a low buzz of District Stadium before kickoff.
After the flyover, the Tigers remained confident. Despite giving up the first touchdown of the season in week three against Prairie, the Tigers’ defense prevailed and barely allowed Prairie to move the ball.
Last season, Prairie stomped the Tigers, 42-14, which left a lot of Tigers bitter, especially the coach.
“It’s a little revenge. I think it was 365 days to think about that,” Tiger head coach Mike Woodward said. “We needed to be tested a little bit. So I think giving up that score coming off of two shutouts as we’re riding high on this defense and then they score on us, we needed to be tested to see how our kids respond, and they responded outstandingly.”
Woodward added that Battle Ground senior linebacker Noah Currie’s ability to read the Falcons’ bubble-screen play early in the game for an interception was something he hasn’t seen in all of his years of coaching.
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Jacob Champine ran for three touchdowns for the Tigers. Artem Bahnyuk and Jordan Young ran for touchdowns of their own, and sophomore quarterback Ethan Adams connected with Saveliy Tkachenko for a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Prairie’s lone score came on a run by Pierson Lameh on fourth down in the first quarter.
Before last week’s big win over Federal Way’s Todd Beamer High School, the Tigers wanted to hit the weight room for light-lifting, something a lot of colleges are now doing pre-game, Woodward said. The goal is to get the muscles going, he added.
Come Friday, prior to the district rivalry game, the Tigers once again hit the weight room at 4 p.m. Woodward added that the team’s desire to be in the weight room really showed on the field.
Prairie’s head coach Will Ephraim unknowingly agreed with Woodward’s statement.
“We are a good team but Battle Ground improved tremendously and it’s good to see that,” Ephraim said after the loss. “They out-muscled us today. They were bigger. They were stronger, and they caught us off guard. We weren’t ready for that.”
Despite starting off the season 0-3, Ephraim still has confidence his team will come out of league play with a chance at the post-season.
“Right now, we have to build up their confidence because they have it,” Ephraim said. “We will definitely have much tougher games [in league]. I haven’t really seen them yet in terms of our league, but based off last year and what I saw from JV, it’s going to be a very competitive league. We definitely have a shot. Our hopes are still up for league.”
As the Tigers have improved to 3-0, they will face Heritage High School at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 at District Stadium. After that, Battle Ground will have two more non-league matchups before league play in the juggernaut that is the 4A Greater St. Helens League.
The Falcons will be playing at 4:00 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22 at District Stadium, as well, in a non-league game against Union High School. After their matchup with Union, the Falcons will turn to league play in the 3A Greater St. Helens League.