For years, the Cowapa League football championship would often come down to these two teams.

The Scappoose Indians (2017 Cowapa champs) are now in their second year at the 5A level, while the Astoria Fishermen (2016 league champs) are trying to bounce back from last year’s third-place finish.

And even though they’re not league opponents, the rivalry is still just as intense as it ever was, as the two teams showed Friday night at CMH Field.

At least that was the idea going in.

The Fishermen and their ball-control offense had moments — just not enough of them, as the Indians and their no-huddle offense scored a 41-13 win over Astoria.

There was nothing wrong with the effort by the Fishermen. The Class 5A Indians were just bigger, faster and stronger, and definitely had the Fishermen outsized and outnumbered.

It showed on the very first Scappoose possession, as the Indians drove 71 yards in nine plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jakobi Kessi.

The game took a strange twist from there, as the Indians decided to work on their passing game — which needs more work.

A pair of first half interceptions by Astoria’s Tristan Boyle kept the Fishermen in the ball game, as did numerous Scappoose penalties. The Indians shot themselves in the foot more than once, finishing the game with nine penalties for 95 yards.

Meanwhile, a strong defensive effort by the Fishermen for the remainder of the first half had Astoria trailing by just 13-0 at halftime.

Scappoose went back to its run game in the second half — and the Indians showed that there’s nothing wrong with their ground game.

Senior running back Josh Rice had 11 carries for 123 yards in the first half alone, and on his first touch of the third quarter (which happened to be the first play from scrimmage of the second half), the 5-foot-9, 182-pound back sprinted 47 yards for a score.

The Fishermen answered with one of their strange, but true, moments.

On a fourth down play from the Scappoose 15-yard line, Ryan Stenblom’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by the Indians.

But instead of just knocking the pass down, the Indians decided tointercept the ball and then run it out of the end zone.

The decision was wrong on both counts, as the Scappoose defender fumbled the ball back into the end zone, where it was recovered by Boyle for an Astoria touchdown.

The Indians answered with a quick, six-play, 71-yard drive to push the lead to 27-6, but Astoria closed the third quarter with its best offensive possession of the night.

Stenblom directed the Fishermen on an 11-play drive that covered 75 yards, with a little trickery to cap the march, as running back Ryan Stutznegger’s option pass to Boyle was caught for an 8-yard touchdown.

That would be Astoria’s final score of the night, however, while the Indians tacked on a pair of touchdowns in the final 8:50.

Backup sophomore quarterback Luke McNabb had a 40-yard TD run, and Kessi reentered and ran for a 57-yard score with 4:24 remaining.

In addition to Boyle’s big night, Astoria junior T.J. Colvin was on the receiving end of several Stenblom passes, while Stutznegger was big in the running game and the passing game for the Fishermen.

The records of the two coaches alone made Friday night’s contest the Game of the Night in Oregon high school football.

Between them, Sean McNabb of Scappoose and Astoria’s Howard Rub have coached their teams for 41 years. They’ve got a combined 281 career wins, with four state titles.

In his 21st year with the Indians, McNabb now has 171 career victories to go with his three state championships.

Meanwhile, Rub kicked off his 20th year with the Fishermen.

Gary Henley is a sports reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 503-861-8493 or

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