VANCOUVER, Wash. — Ty Evans beckoned to sophomore linebacker Isaiah Patterson, pointing at the scoreboard as coach Steve Kizer addressed Skyview players in the emotional moments after the final horn.
The Storm had just thrashed No. 6 Union 37-7, its third consecutive win against its 4A Greater St. Helens League foe, stadium staff kept the scoreboard on with the final scoreline well after the last fans left and Evans couldn’t help but bask it in.
Skyview (6-1) dominated the line of scrimmage, capitalized on four Union turnovers and gained 424 yards of offense on Thursday night at Kiggins Bowl, putting the Storm in the driver’s seat to nab one of two playoff bids in a league that has produced three of the last four 4A state champions.
“It’s special,” senior tight end Tanner Beaman said.
Senior running back/defensive back Jaydin Knapp rushed 18 times for 149 yards and a touchdown, including a 42-yard burst in the fourth that put Skyview ahead by its winning margin.
Skyview led 20-0 at half and did not look back after halftime.
SBLive Washington podcast: What we learned in Week 7
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Here are 4 observations:
Turnovers favored the Storm
Union coughed up four of the contest’s six turnovers.
Two them came on the Titans’ first two possessions. Skyview recovered a fumble on the opening drive, less than two minutes into the game, which set up QB Niko Arriola’s one-yard touchdown run on an option keeper.
Notre Dame-bound receiver Tobias Merriweather caught a tip pass interception on the very next drive, but Skyview sophomore Jerrid Secor picked Union sophomore QB Mitch Ratigan on the next drive and returned it to the Titans’ 22-yard line, which set up a 30-yard field goal.
All in all, Union was undone by turnovers, particularly Ratigan’s three interceptions, though two were tipped passes.
But the Storm played (mostly) mistake-free and put points on the board on the majority of its possessions. Their first punt came in garbage time.
While Skyview moved the ball well throughout the night, Union’s red zone defense held the Storm to three field goals — senior kicker Fedya Henrichs-Tarasenkov was 3 for 3, hitting from 27, 30 and 20 yards.
Storm clicking into gear at the right time
Skyview picked a good week to have what coaches say was its best set of practice this season.
The Storm build on the momentum of its 35-14 drubbing at Kelso, running all over a defense that had largely kept opponents out of the end zone all year.
Now, it approaches a regular season-ending showdown at Camas (2-4) — a team that has had its number in recent years — one win away from securing the top seed heading into the postseason.
This year, the four 4A GSHL teams will fight for just two bids.
“We’re really coming together,” Skyview senior linebacker Gabe Martin said. “We’re firing on all cylinders. Our pass game, run game, defense. It’s all working for us. We’re rolling right now.”
Storm one step away from a league title
Skyview is one week away from winning its first outright 4A Greater St. Helens League title since 2011 — a goal its leaders have been laser-focused on since well before the season started.
The 4A GSHL has produced a state champion in 2016 (Camas), 2018 (Union) and 2019 (Camas).
Skyview would like to add its name to that list.
“We’re trying to beat Camas, and thump ‘em like this,” Martin said. “It’ll be a battle, but we’re trying to take it to them, show them we’re the best team in this area.”
Skyview is big, and can run the ball
Union’s best shot at beating the Storm, whose lone loss came to Idaho 5A power Coeur d’Alene on the road, was to try and force them to take to the air.
That’s a tall task.
Face this rendition of Skyview, and you’d better be up to the task in the trenches.
The Storm boast size and discipline on both lines, which has opened up the run game for their one-two punch of Gabe Martin (thunder) and Knapp (lightning).
The two entered the the game having rushed for a combined 914 yards and 12 touchdowns — Knapp accounting for nine of them and averaging 9.2 yards per carry.
But head coach Steve Kizer and the Storm found ways to keep Union off balance by opening up its pass game.
Arriola, a first-year starter, completed 13 of 17 passes for 181 yards with two interceptions and a 40-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Beaman. He also had two one-yard touchdown runs.
“On those plays where we’re faking run and dudes are coming down to start the run, it opens up the pass game completely,” Beaman said. “I’ve said it so many times, I believe our coaches are the best coaches in the state … their gameplan has always worked for us.”
Added Martin: “If we can run the rock and teams can’t stop that, we’ve got a good thing going.”
How does Union rebound? ‘Get back to basics’
Union was frustrated, dejected and, understandably, baffled at its showing.
Not just because its atypical of the Titans to lose
In March, on the same Kiggins Bowl turf, Union coach Rory Rosenbach addressed a dejected group that had just given up 120 yards of penalties in a loss to the Storm, one of the sloppiest games the state champion head coach has ever been a part of.
The loss cost Union an outright league title in the spring. Now, that league titles race means more than fodder between area foes.
The loss was Union’s worst since it lost to Skyview two years ago — on Oct. 11, 2019 — 30-3.
“We knew they were going to be physical, but they were more physical at every position on the field. I think we got out-coached,” Union coach Rory Rosenbach said. “It’s the second time in three years I felt like they had a really fantastic plan on both sides of the ball.”