Monday, October 05, 2009


And so, the Last Dam Blog is back.

This site petered out a couple years ago when I worked on the coast for NNB shortly after they got themselves a "real" website (only about 10 years after the rest of the uncivilized world of radio).

Never a big blog guy, I was using it as a resource for "real" journalism until the real thing came along. When it did, I tried doing the blog thing while writing the straight articles for the website but found time and inspiration waning.

I've been not so subtly motivated to resume activity thanks to my buddy Denmark Daniels. With his knowledge and assistance, we created what is turning into a YouTube sensation--forever to be known as "The Miracle On Grant Street".

Hillsboro defeated Glencoe 26-21 Friday night at Hare Field on one of the most exciting Hail Mary passes I've ever had the pleasure of witnessing--in person, on T.V., high school, college, NFL, you name it.

Here is the clip if you have yet to view it:

We've all seen Hail Mary finishes, the most recent of note being Brett Favre's toss to Greg Lewis just last week. But, what made this special--other than the fact that a high school senior threw a ball farther and prettier than 1/3 of N.F.L. QB's could do on their best day--was what led up to the final spectacular catch.

Hillsboro quarterback Dominique Mims was primed to be the goat in this game. Beaten badly on a 86-yard pass and catch that led to a Glencoe TD earlier in the game, Mims again failed to make a play defensively that would have ended this contest and sent the Spartans on to a sure victory over their crosstown rivals.

With Hillsboro leading Glencoe by a touchdown 20-13 with 2:27 to play, the Tide began a drive on their own 7-yard line after a beautiful coffin corner punt by the Sparts' Steven Lundin.

The drive appeared to be dead before it started after a 1-yard run by Kyle Cameron and a loss of three yards on a fumbled snap, one of a number of failed exchanges on the night.

But, on 3rd and 12, Glencoe quarterback Tanner Apeland threw a pinpoint pass to Derrick Elford for a 26-yard gain and a first down. After completions of 13 yards to tight end Kory Kirwan and a 15-yard strike to Elford, Apeland again looked for Kirwan on the right sideline. Mims stepped in front and nearly hauled in the underthrown ball with one hand along the sideline but could not make the pick.

After a 12 yard scramble by Apeland gave Glencoe a first down at the Spartan 28-yard line, the Crimson Tide reached into the trick bag. Apeland handed the ball off to Cameron who looked downfield for an open receiver finding no one. With a defender closing in, Cameron unloaded a wobbly dead duck up for grabs, seemingly gift-wrapped for one Dominique Mims.

With no one around and all day to make the play, Mims inexplicably left his feet, then bobbled the ball twice, keeping it alive long enough for Elford to recover and pluck it from the air at the HilHi 2-yard line.

Glencoe had only one time out left, so a Mims interception would have essentially ended the game as the Tide would not be able to keep the clock from running out. Instead, they hustled to the line of scrimmage and Apeland clocked the ball with 29 seconds left, setting up a Cameron run into the end zone.

Both teams had missed PAT's earlier in the contest, with Glencoe's failed try finding the long arm of a leaping Colt Lyerla. The 6-5 Spartan junior is rapidly becoming one of the nation's top recruits with a combination of superior athleticism and relentless hustle. Fearing a reprise, the Tide coaching staff called for a fake PAT that worked to perfection. With a quartet of Spartans caving through the middle of the Glencoe line, Tide holder Joseph Duvall pulled up and rolled left finding an open Kirwan in the end zone for an apparent go-ahead 2-point conversion. After a few tense moments to sort out a penalty, Glencoe celebrated a gutsy call and what looked to be a 21-20 win.

The penalty for illegal participation cost Hillsboro 15-yards on the kickoff, moving the ball to the Spartan 45. Decision time again for the Tide coaching staff, which had wisely kicked the ball away from the dangerous Lyerla all night long. Kick short again on the shortened field giving Lyerla a better chance of finding the ball or try to kick long and get the ball into the end zone for a touchback.

The Tide kicked short and nearly recovered the ball as it glanced off the hands of Tyson Fernstrom and seemed to land between two Glencoe players. But, Hillsboro's Austin Bradley somehow won the battle in the pile and recovered the loose rock at the HilHi 25-yard line with 19 seconds left.

Mims, who possesses a cannon for an arm, loaded up on the first down play and got early pressure. Scrambling away from a potential sack, the athletic senior found himself in a broken field, making his way to the 39-yard line before he was upended on a time-consuming play.

Time out. Six seconds left. Time for one more play. Mims has a gun, but no way the 6-1 senior could throw a ball all the way to the end zone. Right?

He nearly did, but he didn't have to.

Lyerla, who had already put his impressive stamp on this game with 192 yards rushing, two touchdowns and a bushel full of defensive plays, lined up wide on the right sideline. He exploded off the line like a sprinter out of the blocks at the snap of the football, using all of his 4.6 speed to race downfield. Mims rolled to his right and fired a majestic, parabolic, tight spiral more than 60 yards in the air into the waiting hands of Lyerla. A renowned leaper, Lyerla never had to leave his feet as he backed his way into the end zone, falling across the goal line, setting off a wild celebration that saw a storming sea of Spartan blue and white wash over him like a human tidal wave.

The image will live on forever in the minds of both Spartan and Tide followers and those lucky souls who ventured to a packed Hare Field in hopes of seeing a glimpse of a future star or an entertaining battle between two top teams and fierce rivals. Colt Lyerla, whose star exploded on the college recruting scene this summer with record-setting performaces at key combines, has gone from intriguing young athlete to hot prospect to superhero in the span of a few short months. Dominique Mims will surely attract some interest from college recruiters who will slobber over a mobile athlete with a howitzer.

And now, how did that image make its way onto your television sets on SportsCenter?

Following the contest, I noticed the Hillsboro video coordinator, Dave Hill, working with a laptop in the adjoining room. Still buzzing from the game, I wanted to see the video shot of the final play and had a notion that it might be compelling enough to warrant viewing on a national scale. Boy, was I right.

Hillsboro takes its video very seriously, collecting game film from three different cameras located in the press box, sideline and end zone. It was the press box shot, taken with a high-definition video camera, that clearly offered the superior view and scope of "The Play". One look and I knew I had to have it.

Hill loaded a couple of clips onto a thumb drive and transferred them onto my Dell laptop. I returned to the radio station and enlisted the help of the multitalented Denmark Danielz, a professional D.J. and tech/computer whiz, to help synchronize the audio from my call to the video.

I must fess up, a little doctoring of the audio was necessary to fit the clip and suit my very particular standards for public presentation. Nothing much, just a couple of unnecessary lines to help everything time out right. With the clarity of hi-def video and the beautifully framed shot, I knew this had the potential to get some play on ESPN's top plays.

I returned home in the early hours of Saturday and searched for a phone number for ESPN's Bristol, Connecticute compound. I got a guy on the line who seemed like he was really happy to have someone to talk to (about 4:30 p.m. or so Eastern time). He was chatty but admitted he had no idea where to send me and suggested I call back in a few hours. After a minimal amount of sleep, I phoned back, was connected with the assignment desk and told to post the clip to YouTube and send them the link. The rest is history.

Frustratingly, it wasn't until late Monday morning that I was able to see the end result. I didn't catch SportsCenter Saturday night and was stuck in court Monday morning. It was a little disappointing that they didn't use our audio, but more aggravating was the fact that my vintage T.V. apparently doesn't get the whole picture, cutting Mims completely from view on the play. I'm assuming all of you with fancy new flatscreens and plasmas and hi-def saw the full view. If not, shame on ESPN.

Anyhow, it's gotten a lot of attention (about 1500 YouTube hits as of this writing) and was referenced in an article on tonight. I should take this time to acknoledge Mark Danielz for all of his help Friday night. I am a dope when it comes to computers and would have had no idea how to craft this piece without his assistance.

Our plan is to put together a highlight montage of this game and make it available not only on YouTube but as a souvenir CD for those who were there and those who missed out.

As for the blog, well I hope to keep you updated with sports goings on from the Last Dam Down as frequently as time allows.

See you at the game!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Tillamook girls basketball player Tori Garcia, a junior guard, was transported to the hospital after taking a first quarter fall in Wednesday night's home game against Scappoose.

Garcia was unconscious and unresponsive after a collision with Scappoose point guard Megan Karp. The game was delayed for 15 minutes as Garcia was removed by emergency medical personnel.

According to Tillamook head coach Brian Wright, Garcia came to at the hospital and was released that night. Her status for Tillamook's game Friday against Yamhill-Carlton is unknown.

Read the entire story of Tillamook's incredible comeback after Garcia's injury and Seaside's somewhat less exciting win at Banks on

Tuesday, December 18, 2007



Ilwaco boys stub their toes at Rochester, losing Trico opener 70-48 to the Warriors. Kenny Thomas led 13 Warriors players in the scoring column with 12 points. Freshman point guard Karl Oman paced the Fishermen with 12 points and Ryan Blake added 11.

"We didn’t run our stuff all night," fumed Ilwaco head coach Paul Jarrett. "Not one time did we run our offensive set all the way through. We took the shots they gave us."

"Defensively, we were chasing them around the floor instead of moving our feet."

The Fishermen have one more league game before the holiday break, entertaining the Columbia Bruins Thursday night in the back half of another co-ed doubleheader. Thursday's start times at Aase Gymnasium have been moved up to 5:00 p.m. for the girls varsity, followed by the boys game at approximately 6:30 p.m.

Ilwaco's girls got 28 points from all-Trico post Lanie Kary in a 56-45 victory at Rochester, improving their overall mark to 2-3

The Warrenton girls moved to 3-0 in Lewis & Clark League with a 65-39 win at Neah-Kah-Nie. Brooklyn Campbell scored 22 points and dished out a team-high five assists in the win. The Lady Warriors head into the Christmas holiday on a roll and will face a tough Wahkiakum team in the opening round of Ilwaco's Holiday Tournament next Thursday.

Warrior boys dished out 23 assists and got double figures from four different players in a 63-40 win at Neah-Kah-Nie

Knappa's boys had no trouble with visiting Faith Bible. The trio of Jesse Moreland, Gary Aho and Nate West helped Knappa to a strong start in the first quarter, then sat down and let the younger players do the heavy (O.K., fairly light) lifting the rest of the way, but not until Moreland threw down another sweet jam on a fast break for two of his 11 points. Young Steven Tadei led five Loggers players in double figures with 22 as Knappa thumped Faith Bible 95-47. Not quite the ideal warm-up for Thursday's tilt against 4A soon-to-be #1-ranked Marist (a winner at Central Thursday Night) at the Seaside Holiday Tournament.

Naselle's boys ended a 4-game skid with a 62-45 win over Raymond. All five Naselle starters scored in double figures, led by Kyle Burkhalter's 12 points.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Wow! I figured you all had given up hope of another blog post.

Well, the fact is, I was behind enough to start with, but a week without power here in Astoria has set us back in such a way that it will be catchup for the rest of the season.

I had to hold on to football season a little bit longer than usual to cover the 5A/6A championships at Reser last Saturday for a station in Hillsboro and between that whirlwind and pulling three round-the-clock shifts at the radio station during our 24/7 storm coverage, my immune system basically shut down, so I've been sick all week.

Anyhow enough about my problems I realize, we probably pat (patted?) ourselves on the back enough already during the week of the storm, but really, the Daily A has stooped to a new low (didn't have to bend far) by crediting KMUN (the local public station, for those of you out of area) for their coverage that week, only mentioning KAST in a critical way via a comment from their dopey manager, who claimed we were crowing about being the only station on the air. Yes, we were the only station on the air that was actually giving you the news, not playing bad folk music. Maybe there was some storm coverage at some point on KMUN, but every time I tuned in I heard music, which was six or seven times during the course of the week.

Back to sports. We are finally back on track and in rhythm and should be regularly updating the website with sports stories and scores (kind of hard to do without power or internet access, y'see!). For some reason I can't log in to that site tonight so here's what I have for Friday:

Castle Rock 64, Astoria 39...Fishermen boys without Poyer, who sprained his ankle on the opening tip-off against Valley Catholic the previous night and played the whole game on it. With their leading scorer, rebounder, assist leader, steals leader, blocks leader, etc., etc., etc. in street clothes and on crutches, the Fish are no match for the Rockets, who get 19 points from returning 1st-team all-Trico forward Clint Burgoyne in a runaway. Nobody scored in double figures for Astoria, which was led by Max Johnson (9 pts, 5 rebounds). Fish have dropped two straight since winning their first three, but get some much-needed practice time before the Seaside Holiday Classic next Thursday. Poyer (19ppg/10rpg) should be back by then.

Warrenton vs. O.E.S. boys...don't know. Coach never calls.

Warrenton 55, O.E.S. 34...Warriors girls outrebound the Aardvarks by a remarkable 54-15 margin, led by Chelsea Neahring's 15 points and 23 rebounds and Lauren Dove's 21 points and 14 boards. Warrenton did not allow a single offensive rebound in about as dominating a performance in the paint as you are likely to see. Warrenton plays South Bend Saturday night in a rescheduled O.S.A.A. Endowment game at 7:30 p.m.

Seaside 60, Holy Cross 37...This team from B.C. was pretty good last year at Seaside's tournament, but no match for the Lady Gulls on Friday night.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Tillamook looks close to regular season form, Seaside fared well without three key contributors, Astoria is looking for shooters and Warrenton was...well, Warrenton.

Nobody wins a jamboree, but four coaching staffs got an opportunity to evaluate players and rotations in a real-game setting with a live paying crowd one day before some of these teams start playing for real.

Tillamook won all three of its matchups, topping shorthanded Seaside (no Kauffunger, Peinhardt or Walker due to disciplinary reasons) 10-7, knocking off Astoria 14-10 and racing to an 11-0 lead before holding off Warrenton 13-12. The Cheesemakers shot the best, ran the floor effectively and showed multiple threats on offense, even with Johnny Begin only taking one shot on the night.

Warrenton took advantage of an Astoria team that came out shooting very cold (1-13 from the field) to defeat the Fishermen 8-5, before falling to Seaside 17-12 and Tillamook. Cody Patterson led the comeback against the Cheesemakers, draining two of his three three-pointers in the Warriors' final quarter. The Warriors were badly outrebounded and gave up several fast break points to Seaside and Tillamook. Ryan Lampi tied Seaside's Chris Senick for leading scorer honors with 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field.

You can't really evaluate Seaside without three key starters on the floor, but all things considered, Bill Westerholm should feel pretty good about this team heading into Tuesday night's season opener against Taft. Muscular point guard Damian Olivar had a strong night with seven rebounds and four steals to go with six points. The Gulls ran the floor aggressively, particularly with Jeremy Carow and Chris Senick on the floor at the same time. Newcomer Nathan Farmer showed off his long range stroke, hitting both of his 3-point shot attempts. Justin Laird was 4-for-4 at the line, one of the few players not to miss a free throw on the night.

Astoria may struggle to score points this year, but there were some bright spots. The Fish only turned the ball over seven times, suprising for such an inexperienced squad. The Fishermen have some aggressive, athletic defenders and although Chris Dalton did not shoot well (1-for-7), the 6-3 senior showed that he will be an all-around threat from beyond the arc, attacking on the drive and on the defensive end with two blocks. The Fishermen also led all four teams with 12 offensive rebounds, however, they had plenty of their own misses to chase down with 21-percent shooting from the field. There were a fair number of bricks thrown up there and Jake Hatcher was the only one to convert more than 50-percent (2 for 3). Max Johnson led Astoria with seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 at the line as Astoria defeated Seaside 10-9 after losing quarters to Warrenton and Tillamook.

Nobody got hurt, nobody lost their temper and everybody will be better for the experience. Seaside should have all of its starters back in place when the Gulls take on Taft at home Tuesday night. Astoria opens at home Wednesday night against Ilwaco (7:15 p.m. on KAST, 1370-AM) and Tillamook will wait until Friday before opening at home with what could be the top-ranked 4A team in the state in the preseason rankings, the Marist Spartans.


Welcome back Last Dammers (I think there are about 5 of you left, down from 12).

I hope you all haven't abandoned the site due to my prolonged absence. I have been busily preparing for the upcoming winter season which is now upon us (literally, it is snowing in Vernonia as I type!).

Again, I remind you to keep up to date with our Lo-Co-Co (that's Lower Columbia-Coastal to you nonconverts) teams by checking on a daily basis. I will update the blog as regularly as I can or whenever the inspiration strikes and time permits (for instance, I've been very inspired to talk about what an idiot Mike Belotti is, but haven't had the type to put fingertip to keyboard).

This is a traditional jamboree night. A jamboree is a traditional waste of time in my opinion (just play a stupid game, already), but it does mark the first appearance of your local varsity ballers in front of a paying crowd. Tonight at six, the fresh-faced Astoria crew (only two returning letters) will scrimmage against Seaside, Tillamook and Warrenton at the Brick House under the following conditions:

Match Ups – Each team will play each other for one 8 minute quarter.

Participating Teams -
Astoria – PURPLE uniforms Seaside – RED uniforms

Tillamook – BLACK uniforms Warrenton – WHITE uniforms

Game 1 Astoria vs. Warrenton
Game 2 Seaside vs. Tillamook
Game 3 Seaside vs. Warrenton
Game 4 Astoria vs. Tillamook
Game 5 Warrenton vs. Tillamook
Game 6 Astoria vs. Seaside

One timeout allowed per quarter.
We will shoot all shouting fouls and shoot 1 & 1 on the 5th foul.

COST: Adults $3.00
Students $1.00

Warrenton is also hosting at girls basketball jamboree tonight with Ilwaco and Naselle which starts at six. The real games start tomorrow, except in Corbett and Amity, where Vernonia and Nestucca's girls teams trek, respectively.

The real games begin around here Tuesday, with Astoria's girls heading to Ilwaco in a battle of the Lady Fishermen. The following night, I'll be at the Brick House broadcasting the Ilwaco-Astoria boys season opener on 1370 AM KAST, returning there on Friday when the Fishermen take on Gladstone. We will broadcast most of the Astoria boys games on KAST this year, with a handpicked schedule of Warrenton, Ilwaco, Knappa and Naselle boys games airing on AM 1230 "Key Radio", the former home of ESPN.

The broadcast schedule will be posted on along with standings, game stories and stats all season long. Find a game and have fun. See you there!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


La Salle scored two first-half goals and dodged a few bullets in the second half to hold on for a 2-0 shutout victory over Astoria in a 2nd Round OSAA 4A State Playoff game at Warrenton.

The 3rd-rankd Falcons, in pursuit of their third straight trip to the championship game, picked up goals from 2006 all-Capital Conference forward Ben Striar in the 15th minute and Capital co-Player Of The Year Ryan Brand in the 22nd minute. La Salle outshot Astoria 12-3 in the first half and generally controlled play, although Astoria's Jair Macareno just missed a wide open shot before halftime that would have cut the lead to one goal.

The Falcons adjusted to a defensive formation with one forward in the second half and held Astoria scoreless despite being outshot 7-4 by the Fishermen. Ryan Putman fired a strong shot from about 40 yards that just skipped over the crossbar. Reserve forward Zack Norton injected his usual excitement into the final few minutes, making several full speed runs deep into Falcon territory. La Salle goalkeeper Nick Rash came out to deflect a Norton shot late and Macareno's rebound attempt sailed just outside the frame.

There were very few stoppages and only a handful of fouls whistled with no bookings. Astoria lost sophomore forward Sean Speer to a knee injury midway through the second half after a strong clean tackle.

La Salle returned eight players from last year's state runner-up, welcomed an All-State transfer from California and an ODP transfer from Tigard and looked every bit as good as a team with that much talent should. While the Falcons were clearly the superior team, Astoria was not outclassed and played a strong game with enough scoring opportunities to make things interesting. The Falcons stayed with their starting players until the final whistle.

LaSalle had a 6-1 edge in corner kicks. Rash earned the shutout with five saves and Astoria's Daniel Mathre played a strong game in goal with five saves.

The Falcons, now 12-1-2 overall, move on to the quarterfinals to face a familiar opponent. McLoughlin High School of Milton-Freewater defeated the Falcons in the championship game the last two seasons after losing to La Salle in the 2004 semifinals. The Pioneers will travel to Milwaukie to face the Falcons on Saturday after defeating Sisters 3-0 Tuesday.

In other 2nd Round State Tournament finals, Tillamook picked up its first ever state playoff win with a 1-0 victory at La Grande. The Cheesemakers will play the winner of Henley against Cottage Grove in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Seaside will host Gladstone on Saturday after the Gladiators shut out North Valley 3-0. Gladstone defeated Seaside 6-2 in a non-league match in September at Warrenton.


The Seaside boys soccer team stormed past Philomath with a 4-1 victory in today's OSAA 4A State 2nd round matchup.

Jason Spear got the Gulls on the board in the 10th minute, rebounding a shot bobbled by the Warriors' goalkeeper to put Seaside up 1-0. Ten minutes later, Josh Garhofer got his second goal of the postseason, taking a Chris Senick assist and striking a low shot from just outside the 18-yard box that nicked the far post and ricocheted into the goal for a 2-0 lead.

With three minutes remaining in the half, Seaside's leading scorer Chris Senick had a spectacular header, diving from his knees to take a ball off the ground in front of the Philomath goal to give Seaside a commanding 3-0 halftime advantage.

Philomath finally got on the board about 60 minutes into the match when Thomas Fernandez scored on a scramble at the far post.

Spear notched his second tally of the game, taking a cross from Senick in the 72nd minute to end the scoring.

Seaside goalkeeper Bren Bletscher, although busy handling activity on the perimeter of the penalty box or just outside, was rarely threatened in goal as the vastly improved Seaside defensive back line of Leo Luna, Peter Shepherd, Justin Laird and Ben Hayes helped the Gulls to an unlikely appearance in the state quarterfinals.

Seaside will take on the winner of tonight's North Valley-Gladstone match. The host Gladiators are heavily favored and would travel to Seaside to play the Gulls Saturday if victorious tonight. Should North Valley pull off the upset over the state's top-ranked team, Seaside will travel to Merlin to play the Knights this weekend.

Check for the latest scores, stories, schedules and standings for teams in the Lower Columbia-Coastal region.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Yeah, sorry, it's been awhile. Promised you some big changes were coming, didn't I?

No more ESPN Radio on the North Coast. All I'm going to say on the topic is that it was a business decision. I'm a sports reporter not a business decision maker. So, please stop asking me questions. And complaining to me about it will be about as useful as yelling down a well somewhere. If you really want to be heard, you need to talk to the decision makers not the order takers. If you want to know what I think about it, you probably already know. 'Nuff said.

Yes, we still cover local sports here in dripsville. That won't change at least for the near future. So, let's talk playoffs.

As in, no playoffs for the Astoria football team. A case could legitimately be made that the most dangerous team in the Cowapa League will not represent the league in the playoffs this season. If Jordan Poyer doesn't get hurt, does Astoria reach the playoffs? I think yes. Are they likely the league champs? Quite possibly. Yes, he did play offense against Scappoose, but didn't run with authority until the second half and was missed on defense, particularly on two long touchdown runs, one of which I'm certain doesn't go for 69 yards (If Poyer can catch Darrell Fields of Gladstone on a sideline sprint, I'm pretty damn sure he's catching Ryland Geiger).

However, I think two other things hurt them perhaps even more than Poyer's injury, because they definitely could have beaten both Banks and Scappoose without him.

Number one: turnovers! Two costly turnovers at Banks potentially cost them 21 points in an eight point loss. A fumble at the Braves five yard line, that the Braves turned into a long touchdown drive. Another fumble inside the Astoria 30 that turned into a short TD drive. Against Scapoose, Astoria was inside the red zone driving for a tying touchdown, when Jesse Lindsay picked up a fumble and returned it all the way for a backbreaking TD.

Number two: Willie Webb. What? What did he do against Astoria? Not a lot, but it's what the pigskin sprite did against Tillamook and Scappoose that spelled doom for the Fishermen. A Webb kickoff return for a TD provided the winning margin in a 14-7 victory for Y-C over the 1-win Cheesemakers (best one win team in Oregon?). Tillamook also didn't do themselves any favors by committing back-to-back illegal procedure penalties when they had 1st and goal at the Y-C one-yard line, eventually turning the ball over (and you think Astoria had some costly TO's!). Then, in the season finale with Astoria needing a Scappoose win over Y-C to reach the playoffs, the Indians had just taken a 10-7 lead in the 3rd quarter when Webb returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for the deciding touchdown.

I guess we can throw in a 2-and-a-half for the leadfooted line judge at 'Poose who failed to be in position on a critical fumble call late in the fourth quarter that allowed Y-C to nearly run out the clock (Hey, if the Spotlight reporter can bellyache about our coastal refs, I can do the same to the Portland guys).

In the end, very disappointing for Astoria to not be playing again in November. Especially considering they would have had a very winnable first round game (Sutherlin) and an opportunity to go all bizarro world on La Salle. Think about it: Astoria goes undefeated in 2006 including win over good Falcons team in preseason, then falls at home in playoff upset rematch. In 2007, Falcons go unbeaten including impressive win over Astoria, then host Fishermen in second round playoff rematch. What an opportunity lost!

Speaking of lost opportunities, the fact that Junction City defeated Astoria's 15-2 volleyball team at the Brick House Saturday night is not in itself a huge story. The Tigers had made two straight trips to state, played in the rugged Sky-Em League and had equivalent talent to the Lady Fishermen. Much like last year's home playoff with Douglas, this game was pretty much a pick'em.

The sad story is the way this exciting match ended. Already approaching marathon status after going to extra points in each of the first two games, the Lady Fishermen responded down two games to none by taking games three and four and fairly walloped the visitors 25-12 in the fourth game. JC's star outside hitter Kayla Rauschert had 16 kills in the first three games, but was clearly tanking late. Meanwhile, Astoria's star middle Sophie DeWitt was bringing her big game, pounding 24 kills through four games, many of the fierce and sharp angled variety. Kristen Saulsbury was providing consistent offense on the outside with her varied attacks, Meredith Barnes looked rejuvenated after going 0-for-3 on her first three attacks and the back line gals, after a bit of an erratic start, were digging up everything and passing on a dime.

To game five with JC's Rauschert serving, a shaky receive led to a DeWitt shot that took an unfortunate roll down the net tape out of bounds. No worries, right? Wrong. De Witt's next opportunity came after a bad pass and a set outside the boundary, followed by a check swing yip. That opened the floodgates to what could only be described as a group gack! Painful to watch as at least five of the six girls on the floor did their darnedest to hide in a square with no dark shadows. Passes were shanked into the stands, free balls sent into the net, hitters practically screaming don't set me with their body language, errant serve, you name it, all of the trademark symptoms of the bodily reflex that made Dr. Heimlich famous.

Last year's team had more of a stabilizing influence from it's seniors. This team probably had more athletic gifts and talent than any other Astoria volleyball team, but lacked clear leadership on the floor and, as it turned out, intestinal fortitude. Fortunately, Astoria didn't have to play in too many 5-game matches this year as they nearly ran the table in a talent-depleted Cowapa League (Tillamook and Banks not nearly as strong as last year).

Still, it's been a great three-year run for these seniors, with DeWitt, Saulsbury and Hilary O'Bryan starting during that whole stretch and Sara Cullen and Meredith Barnes contributing until becoming full-time starters this year. Astoria finished with it's best-ever regular season record of 15-2 and won back-to-back Cowapa League titles for the first time in the program's history. DeWitt is probably the most talented volleyball player to come out of here and an exemplary student as well, who will be an asset to a small college program somewhere. Saulsbury battled through a troublesome knee injury all year, putting off surgery to be with her team when they needed her most. The unsung O'Bryan has also had to overcome health hurdles and unfortunately will not get the chance to play at Lane CC after injuring her ankle in the subtournament last year. Cullen accepted the responsibility of setter with aplomb and is one of the hardest workers on the team and Barnes showed polish to go with her passion in her senior year.

Three local teams remain and two of them will be on the soccer field Tuesday. Seaside travels to Philomath after knocking off South Umpqua 1-0 in a first round match on Saturday. After a first round bye, Astoria hosts 3rd-ranked La Salle at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday. Anybody else notice that the third place team in the Cowapa got a much more favorable bracket slot than the league champ? The Gulls could easily get to the quarterfinals after beating Philomath earlier in the year, when they weren't playing nearly as well as they are now. Meanwhile, Astoria has it's work cut out against what has to be the toughest two seed in the field. La Salle finished behind top-ranked Gladstone in the Capital Conference and is a state championship contender every year. Gotta say it again, I hate these prefab brackets in Oregon. Play a regional playoff, then seed the state bracket right before the tournament and don't play any quarterfinal or later games on anything less than a regulation size, quality field.

Also, good luck to the Naselle football team after an 8-1 season and Pacific 2B League co-championship. The Comets travel to Bellevue's Interlake High School on Saturday for their first state playoff game in more than a decade. If they beat Seattle Lutheran on Saturday, they better enjoy the celebration for as long as they can, because they will be Adna's sacrificial lamb in the quarterfinals. The loaded Pirates are simply at a different level this year as former Ilwaco HC K.C. Johnson looks to be on his way to a state title. Still, great job by Coach Eaton and his hard-hittin' Comets.

See you at the (soccer) game!