Friday night lights: Battle Ground-based football teams kick off season


High school football teams are now back in action across Clark County. Battle Ground High School and Prairie High School held their first games on Sept. 2 after two weeks of practice, which kicked off the season. 

Battle Ground Tigers

Head Coach: Mike Woodward

Classification: 4A

League: Greater St. Helen’s League

2021 season stats: 1-9

The Battle Ground Tigers entered their 2022 football season with extensive practices before they played their first game against Mark Morris High School last Friday.

Coach Mike Woodward, who took over the program from previous coach Mark Oliverio, is excited to kick off the new football season.

“(Practices have been) outstanding,” Woodward said. “It’s been hot, so it’s been a grind, no doubt about it, but our kids have responded really well and we’re ready to finally take on a different-colored jersey, that’s for sure.”

“This is the 100th year of Battle Ground football, so super excited. I went here, so it’s pretty special, being a coach where I played,” Woodward said. 

He said what makes it special is the “sound of their cleats clicking” on the asphalt as they leave the locker room to head to the stadium. The last time Woodward played was 30 years ago and he can “remember it like it was yesterday.” 

“It’s just one small example of having the opportunity to coach where you played and just remembering all the amazing coaches that I had. … I’m trying to give back to the kids we have now and it’s just an amazing experience,” Woodward said. 

As the new coach, Woodward has some aspirations he hopes the team can achieve.

“Our number one goal is to take it week by week,” he said prior to their first game. “We’re zero and zero right now and all of our focus is on Mark Morris. We want to be 1-0 after week one, and that next week we’ll talk about Centralia and our goal will be to be 2-0. One step at a time for us.”

“They believe in themselves, and the staff believes in them, and we can’t wait to see the product on the field Friday night,” Woodward said.

Prairie Falcons

Head Coach: Will Ephraim

Classification: 3A

League: Greater St. Helen’s League

2021 season stats: 6-4

The Prairie Falcons started their 2022 season practicing in preparation for their first game against Auburn High School on Sept. 2.

Will Ephraim took the place of the previous coach, Mike Peck, and is determined to build on the team’s foundation from last season.

“(We’re) trying to fight the heat and make sure we’re productive,” Ephraim said last week. “I think we’ve been productive (and) I think we’ve been able to do the things we’ve wanted to do, and see the things we wanted to see.”

He would like the team to “be able to adjust and get better.” Ephraim also wanted to be focused for their game last Friday, as Auburn is a “spread team that could give us a challenge.” 

Prior to their first game, Ephraim said he was impressed by the players on the team based on their practices. 

“They’ve been awesome. I really love their attitude, their toughness,” he said last week. “They have me excited about the season coming. I feel like all the ingredients there are now just up to me and my staff to get the right mixing.”

For the team, Ephraim also aims to “establish a tradition of competitiveness.”

“Everybody wants to win, of course, that’s definitely in the picture, but I want for people to see us as a true program, and a very competitive program at that,” Ephraim said. 

During their practices, the team was shown a rugby-style tackle by Duffin McShane, the director of coaching development for Chinook Rugby, who is an experienced rugby player. The tackle is meant to be a safer alternative to the traditional football tackling method, McShane said.